Interviewing the Interviewer

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Ask a group of hiring managers to describe the personality traits of their ideal applicant and you’ll likely get similar responses. 

Passionate. 
Energetic. 
Creative. 
Confident. 

In service industry organizations, these attributes are almost universal among the most sought candidates. Skills can be taught during training, but many people believe attributes such as passion, energy, and creativity are inherent in an individual, and are a must have in an applicant applying for a job with a service organization.  

With this in mind, for a moment, think about what would happen if the interviewer/interviewee roles were reversed. What would the hiring manager say if the interviewee asked questions about the organizations “personality?” Could the hiring manager explain their company culture? For example, how passionate is the workforce? Ensuring a hiring manager is familiar with the company, not just their respective department or job, is critical.  

As we start progressing through 2014, the job outlook of service industries is promising. Looking at hospitality and tourism, the outlook for employment is great domestically and abroad in locations such as the Middle East, Asia, and South America.  Sector of hospitality and tourism are doing well, and Gen Y/Millennials entering the workforce are being afforded a great luxury - they can choose which company they will work for. Five years ago, graduates were lucky if they received 1-2 offers upon graduation. Now, 3-5 offers for a quality graduate is not uncommon, and when the graduate is selecting the best organization, it's frequently the way the “internal customers” are managed that serves as the tiebreaker. 

We recommend you think about why an applicant should choose your company over another.  In 2014, what will you do to communicate to applicants how you’re the Employer of Choice? Our research and experience teaching Gen Y/Millennials at the collegiate level has shown us that recent graduates entering the workforce are very concerned about the company they will work for upon completion of their degree. While pay & benefits are important, these are now taking a backseat to company culture. 

Recent graduates want to join an organization where they can make an immediate impact and want to work with individuals who share their confidence, are well-educated, understand the importance of work/life balance and social media, and can work in teams and/or as individuals.  Are your hiring managers prepared to discuss your firms approach in an interview environment?  If not, we suggest they prepare by knowing how to respond, at a minimum, to the following:

  1. What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as an organization compared to XYZ competitor?
  2. How would you describe your company’s workforce in terms of culture and diversity?
  3. How does your organization promote a reasonable work/life balance among your workforce?
  4. Can you discuss the development opportunities that exist for a new employee who has aspirations of making a long-term commitment to your company?

Additionally, how are you communicating your culture to potential applicants during the recruiting process? What type of information is presented on your website so applicants get a realistic preview of your organization before they apply? Have your recruiters been trained to respond to these questions during career fairs and other recruiting events? Remember, the new class of graduates are eager to enter the workforce and find that Employer of Choice! 

We wish you a happy, prosperous, and joyous 2014!

Drs B & T

photo credit: Victor1558 via cc