5 Essential Leadership Traits to Uncover during the Interview Process

Every hospitality employer wants to hire managers with "good leardship skills." But what specific traits should they be looking for?

One of the most frequently requested candidate qualifications that hospitality companies ask for is a seemingly simple one: good leadership skills. But what, exactly, that means, is not so simple. Not only is the term “good” up for a wide range of interpretations, but it’s also tough to nail down in interviews. Without seeing hospitality professionals in action with their teams, it’s hard to tell if they can effectively lead.

Throughout the interview process, interviewers must focus on the traits that add up to the type of leader a company needs. While each company has its own unique leadership needs, our recruiting team shared the five essential leadership traits to look for in any hospitality candidate and how to assess them:

  • Creates a Supportive Environment
  • Works Well with Others
  • Delegates Like a Pro
  • Ready to Take Feedback
  • Emotional Intelligence

Creates a Supportive Environment

People don’t quit bad jobs, they quit bad managers. Even though employee turnover is a constant struggle in the hospitality industry, abnormally high turnover is the trickle-down effect of unsupportive managers. Ask your candidates how they reduce turnover. Do they proactively take steps to support and motivate staff? Or do they shrug their shoulders and chalk it up to the nature of the business?

Works Well with Others

Most hospitality businesses, especially hotels, have many moving parts. While each department has its own role, collaboration is essential to business success. Ask them to describe a time when they had to collaborate with multiple teams and other leaders. What was the outcome? How did they ensure communication flowed effectively?

Delegates Like a Pro

Often, a “hands-on” leadership style is seen as the gold standard by many employers. Of course, leading by example is a great trait in a manager. But sometimes, when a manager does too much themselves, they end up burnt out or making their staff feel useless. Ask them how they delegate tasks. Do they hold the reigns tightly? Or do they empower their teams by trusting them with responsibilities?

Ready to Take Feedback

No matter how high up the ladder someone is, all leaders are subject to criticism and feedback. You need a candidate who can take feedback gracefully, from supervisors and subordinates. You could ask them frankly “How do you handle criticism?” but take the answer with a grain of salt. This is a great question to ask their references, as they will have a more accurate answer.

Emotional Intelligence

Hospitality workplaces tend to be high-energy and fast-paced. While this makes for an exciting career, it can often push tempers and strain teams. Leaders need emotional intelligence to keep themselves steady and also guide the rest of the team through stressful situations. Behavioral interview prompts like “Tell me about a time when you helped a team member handle a difficult guest” are a great start. Hiring managers may also want to consider aptitude tests for a better overview of a candidate’s emotional skills.

Our Hospitality Recruiters Can Help

Our hospitality recruiters have years of industry experience and understand what specific management skills will bring success to your business. We take a consultative approach and can advise on best hiring practices. Contact us today to learn more.



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