Hotel Online  Special Report


My Experience Applying for a Hotel Job
A Real Eye Opener


By Barry Williams, December 2005

Good Day Good People of Hotel Land!

I’ve got an awareness enhancing social study for you. 

All you need to do is to take a day off your regular work (ask your GM about this – they’ll probably still pay you…) and travel to the nearest city from where you live. 

Go to hotels unfamiliar to you and apply for jobs that fall within your range of expertise. Don’t just apply to help wanted ads, hit as many hotels as possible on the “day off” you’ve given yourself. The more the merrier. 

Hopefully today is a day like most days and some of the hotels you popped into are actually looking for people. If you told them that you’re from out of town, they’d likely give you an interview right there. Maybe … you never know until you ask, right? 

And in those chance interviews you might get, perhaps they’d ask you intelligent questions like - “So, tell me Ms. So & So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” and then they’d smile and wait patiently for your sparkling response to their character exposing question. Remember, a potential job might be hanging on your ability not to laugh at the silliness of it all, so be serious and give them your best answer. Okay? 

After the couple of interviews that you probably lucked into and the dozen or so applications you’d surely get completed, (why do I have to fill this all in when the information is already on my resume? – you might ask, acting harebrained) you would have heard this more than once – “Thanks a lot; we’ll get in touch with you if something comes up”. 

Perhaps, if the hotel is really on top of their Human Resources game, someone might point out to you that you’ve just wasted your time because they only contact those people who are actually called for an interview. (Applicants who are not interviewed are not people – get the picture?) 

Your two (or is that: too?) busy interviewers would likely tell you – “Well, we’ve got a few more people to talk to but your experience looks good, we’ll let you know one way or the other. Thanks for coming in”. Don’t ask to be shown around the hotel because these are very busy people you’ve just spoken with – when they stand up, it’s time for you to go. 

Alright, are you with me so far? Good. Now it’s time to hit the dusty trail and return to whence you came – your social work here is done. Are you having fun yet? Excellent! 

Maybe on the trip home you could reflect on how you did in your interviews and whether anyone will call you on the resumes you broadcasted. This is just an experiment, you understand, but what if something really DID come of this? You might be able to tell what’s-his-name to take a flying leap the next time you’re cut short in a management meeting – hey, you never know… 

Ah man, possibilities are a wondrous thing! 

Once you’re safely back home, here’s I want you to notice: How did your “day off” feel? Do you feel well rested, ready to rock and roll for tomorrow? How much interest did the hotel staff show in you as you played your secret role of “applicant” to the hilt? Did you notice anything that the hotels could have done better? (Maybe you could mention it to them when they call …) 

But now you’re in phase two of your social study – the waitin’ phase! Yep, the ball’s in their court. This is exciting, no? 

The following day, as you go about your duties - completing assignments and obtaining results that give you a good sense of value about who you are and your importance to your company – pretend that you don’t have those assignments. 

I want you to imagine that the only results you’ll be getting today are the ones generated from the effort you so willingly gave on your “day off”. Everything now depends on whether or not the people reading your resumes (or the bumps on your face during the interviews) think you can be of value to them. (Dang, I wish I would have said “Taller” to that silly question…!) 

Are they thinking about you? 

Remember, this is phase two now and your job during this phase is to wait. (Maybe you could get another day off to go out and plaster more paper around some other hotels) 

At least you know that at your hotel, everybody who comes in for an interview gets a call from Human Resources – whether they’re hired or not. So that’s two calls you can count on – at least. 

On your way home after work you wonder if there might be messages waiting for you from distant hotels that can’t stand another day of existence without your assistance. (Yahoo – I knew it!!) But there are no messages yet. 

Phase two drags on for a few days and there are no calls. Not one. Don’t these places know the unwritten rule about you investing your time for an interview and they have to (surely by some unwritten labor law) call you to let you know – one way or the other? I mean, that’s what your hotel does... that’s the least they could do, right? 

Phase two continues for two weeks and not one dang call - unbelievable! If these people had any idea who they were dealing with… 

But before your frustration gets the better of you, it’s time for phase three to occur. 

Ok, let’s see… phase three… Oh yeah, phase three is exactly like phase one! 

You’re gonna need another “day off” my friend! 


This story is real and I’m not even going to change the names to protect the innocent – because uhh … I’m not that innocent. 

My wife and I moved to a new city after Barney’s Motel sold and we applied at several hotels that were looking for people with our talents. (My wife for front desk or bookkeeping and me for … dagnabbit – I’m not good at anything – no wonder!) 

Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe that our talents were required everywhere but the experience was a real eye opener and it showed us how differently we operated Barney’s Motel compared to a lot of these “classy” establishments. 

Here’s what I’d love to say to those smarty pants hotels: (as if they’d ever ask …) 

1. If you call someone in for an interview – please reward their effort with a phone call if they are not the successful candidate. We’ve made plenty of these calls and we didn’t like doing it either – but we did. It shows class and respect. 
2. Saying “only the people that are chosen for interviews will be contacted” is a chicken crap way out. Offer to contact applicants who provide an email address so your message can be broadcast one time to everybody to reward them for their applications or find a better way to qualify your applicants. This whole system is about attracting good people – so treat them like they’re good AND people right from the get go. (save their email addresses and $ on classified ads when you’re looking for people next time) 
3. If you ever hear your HR person asking an applicant the stupid question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” – they should be stopped. It’s an insult and it demeans both the interviewee and the certificate that HR people receive after all their efforts to learn about human nature. 
4. Schedule your interviews so that they include a tour of your enterprise. Your business will expand through word of mouth marketing even when the interviewee is unsuccessful in their bid to become a staff member of your fine establishment. Do you have any idea how much respect that bestows on the person you are taking for the tour? Wanna bet they won’t tell people? 
5. Inform your front desk people that job applicants are to be treated with the same accord that you would give to customers. They might just become one… 
6. Streamline your application process to avoid redundancies. You’re only getting one application but the person applying may be completing many that same day. 
7. Think hard about everything you do to attract people. How can you tell if the person you’re talking to might be a future customer or knows someone who might be? With all our reliance on email, phones and direct marketing, we need to focus more than ever on word of mouth promotion for our properties. Hail, if the truth be known – it’s likely the most powerful method we have! 

Now that’s turning turds into turkey. 

A good practice to get into. 

Thank you, friends. 

Barry out.

You can respond to Barry's comment by going here or to his email address.

 Barry Williams

Also See: Here's a Conversation I Had Recently with a Front Desk Clerk at a 3 1/2 Star, Internationally Branded Hotel / October 2005
Hallucinating for Profit / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / November 2004
Rolling in the D'oh! / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / October 2004
Most Hospitality Help Wanted Classified Ads Suck / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / September 2004
Campfire: GOOD - Motel Fire: BAD / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / September 2004
Here Are a Couple of Points I have Learned Regarding Hospitality Management / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / July 2004

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