How to Hire The Best Employees for Your Hotel or Hostel

By Alex Gaggioli, October 9, 2018

Hiring the right people is a difficult endeavor, especially for customer service orientated positions. In our hotel operating costs eBook, we outlined the true cost of labor. The cost to obtain and train employees is 30-35% of total operating costs, so retention is essential. And one of the best ways to increase retention is to hire the right people. Here, we outline how to approach the hiring process to ensure you’re seeking and attracting the ideal candidate.

Know the Position

Before you even post the job opening, know what you’re looking for. This may seem obvious, but according to Inc, nailing down exactly what skills and personality traits you require is essential to success. Hiring for your cleaning staff vs. your front desk vs. your kitchen staff requires a different approach. Pinpoint ideal skills and personality traits based on the position and then broadcast your job opening. Some of the best sites to post hospitality jobs are hcareers, hospitality online, craigslist, Indeed, or Monster. There are a lot of job boards, so experiment with a few to see what works best.

Identify Ideal Personality Traits

Inc also suggests that you hire based on personality rather than tactical skills because the latter are much easier to teach. A Forbes article warned that you can’t make people like other people, teach empathy, or create a teamwork mentality from scratch. Forbes admits that you can teach those things to some extent, but innate personality traits are very difficult, if not impossible, to change. There are certain types of people who are more inclined than others to help others and successfully work on a team. For a customer service, team-orientated position, you need to ensure you find a candidate with these innate personality characteristics.

Forbes crafted an acronym, WETCO, to help you identify the right personality characteristics:


  • W for Warmth: simple human kindness
  • E for Empathy: The ability to sense what another person is feeling
  • T is for Teamwork: an inclination toward
  • C is for Conscientiousness: Detail orientation, including an ability and willingness to follow through to completion
  • O: is for Optimism: The ability to bounce back and to not internalize challenges. Optimism is a necessity in customer-facing positions.


As a seasoned property owner, you’re probably aware of the personality traits that make for the best employees. But, creating an interview process that helps you and your staff attract the right candidates needs time and attention.

Include Team Members

During the interview process, include other team members. In the series of interviews you plan to conduct, make sure members of the associated teams are involved. Existing team leaders and team members will be able to better understand who will and will not work well with them. Your team is also more knowledgeable about the distinct personality traits and technical skills needed to be successful in similar positions to their own.

Be Hospitable

Practice what you preach. Inc believes the best way to attract the best customer-service orientated employees is to be hospitable in your interview process. Make it easy for your candidates to apply and make scheduling as easy as possible. An unnecessarily long interview process and bad communication will detract candidates looking for a company that reflects their values.

Demonstrate your hospitable nature with open communication, even if you decide to pass on a candidate. There is nothing worse than leaving a candidate in limbo. Leave candidates in the best position post-interview and encourage them to apply in the future.

Use Behavioral Questions

If you only ask basic questions, you are only going to get basic answers. Use experiential-based questions that highlight a candidate’s personality and ability to perform certain tasks. If they are interviewing for a leadership position, ask questions about the sacrifices they’ve had to make to succeed or how they encouraged their team members to help them succeed. Avoid closed-ended questions that are typically asked like “what are you strengths and weaknesses” and focus on how those strengths and weaknesses affected different situations.

Behavioral and experiential questions paint a more vivid picture than basic interview questions.

Interview Consistency

Hcareers offers fantastic advice for hiring customer-orientated positions. Hospitality jobs require a blend of technical skills and personality traits and everyone comes with their own unique mixture. Try not to let a candidate’s certain strengths or weaknesses distract you during an interview. Take note of any important distinctions, but ask the same questions so later on you can accurately compare candidates.

If interviews are completely different from one another it is hard to compare candidates. You can’t perform identical interviews, but asking the same questions is a good start.

Think Long Term

Hcareers also suggests looking at the long-term while searching for part-time and full-time candidates. In many cases, it takes months to train an employee and get them to 100% productivity. Entice employees in the interview phase with long-term benefits such as vacation and personal time, health insurance benefits. But more importantly, focus on how the employee can expect to grow in this position and how you are invested in their continued growth.

Many new hires seek mentors and if you can offer guidance and growing opportunities, it is a huge plus.

Make Team Decisions

Ultimately, one person will decide which candidate to hire. But, just as you involved team members in the interview process, let them help choose the right candidate. When your team has a say in who gets hired, they are more likely to stand behind the decision. Then, when the new employee starts, your team is more inclined to help train the individual.


So, what does a perfect hospitality hire look like? Well, it all depends on your needs and your property. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for finding and retaining the best talent. But, what you can do is identify what has worked for you in the past and help it determine how you approach hiring in the future.

We suggest starting with the personality traits outlined above in WETCO and then make adjustments based on your particular needs. During the interview process do:

  • Include team members in the interview and decision process
  • Be hospitable and create a friendly interview process
  • Ask behavioral and experienced-based questions
  • Consistently ask interviewees the same questions
  • Focus on long-term benefits
  • Take your time in finding and choosing the right candidate


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