Passion - the key to successful hospitality recruitment


Passion - the key to successful hospitality recruitment

Lisa Chambers

Lisa Chambers, HGEM's Operations & HR Director, on going with your gut when it comes to recruiting passionate team members.

Having spent the past 15 years recruiting, managing and training staff (many of these on the front line in hospitality organisations), I’ve long thought that passion is something people either have, or don’t. But I’ve come to realise that it’s entirely transferable. I think the most important skill, from a recruitment point of view, is spotting passion, whatever its focus. Similarly, in training, the focus should be on channelling this passion and allowing it to shine through in your team’s interactions with guests.

This is the key to cultivating a sense of authenticity, which is what sets people apart in guest experience. Our mystery guest feedback surveys show us time and time again that the more personal and human, and the less automated the service, the more likely it is that guests will remember and value it. Genuine passion: for the menu, provenance of ingredients, wine list, and for the intangibles of guest experience themselves: the welcome and warmth of service, is what any hospitality provider should try to encourage within front of house teams. They should do everything in their power to encourage this.

Recruiting with an awareness of passion relies a lot on gut feel - a spark of enthusiasm can come through in different ways. Sometimes it will show when a candidate talks about their degree, or a hobby they love, or it might be that their eyes light up when I ask them about their ambitions or dreams for the future.

I focus on the language they use when they talk about work experience, or a great meal they’ve eaten or cooked. Animated body language, eye contact, enthusiastic descriptions and positive attitude all shine through once somebody relaxes into a conversation. This is what I’m looking for - it shows a capacity for engagement and interest. Personality profiling and analytics have a place in recruitment for more senior jobs, and they can be a good way to test specific managerial skills and traits. But I still believe there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting and trusting your gut.

Other important qualities, such as organisation, attention to detail and knowledge can be improved quickly with the right training and focus, but passion itself is something that needs to be there from the outset. Believe in what you do, who you work for, have passion, listen well and your recruits will follow suit. Don’t forget you are being interviewed as well!

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