Establishing the Correct Hiring Team for Your Hotel
By Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight | September 01, 2019
When it's time to hire, it's time to hire. That is to say, regardless of whether an organization is growing due to scaling up operations, or backfilling a critical role (ideally where the predecessor has earned a promotion), once a company has engaged in an active search. It's possible to be overwhelmed by the sense of urgency that comes with being short-staffed.
However, as they say in old proverbs you've inevitably heard, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In staffing, this means ensuring that each and every crucial step of strategically planning the job description, interview process and interviewers that will be utilized to properly vet, and ultimately select the right person for the job.
We've touched on writing proper job descriptions on these pages before. The most important tip is to ensure that the role being described is the role being offered. Obviously, there is a tremendous difference between, for instance, an events marketer at a hospitality-tech startup, and an events planner at a property where weddings are commonplace. However, while this not-so-subtle nuance can be lost on candidates who are in full-on spray-and-pray mode, quality candidates will usually take the time to see where their skills are the right fit.
Another critical component to JDs is connecting with the team a candidate will be joining to ensure that changes haven't been made in "real life." There's oftentimes fluidity in what a role used to be, and what it's become. If we assume quality candidates take the time to apply for jobs that match their skills, then it makes sense that hiring managers and HR teams must take the time to ensure job descriptions that truly detail the role.
Once the job description is accurate and up to date it's time to identify the gatekeepers. In other words, decide who will be interviewing candidates. When deciding who you want to include in the interview process, keep in mind that these individuals will leave a lasting impression of the company on the candidate. They need to provide a view into the company and therefore some sort of value to the candidates. They also need to provide a glimpse into the role.
For instance, having a software engineer interview a front desk employee might be a very strange pairing. However, if the engineer is building a new user interface, there's a chance it might make sense to introduce them, after all, the front desk worker might be instrumental in providing useful feedback. Again.. matching the candidates to the folks they will be interacting with is critical… even if the pairings might be strange.
That's not to say every new hire should meet the entire company, on the off chance they one day meet at the water cooler. Below is a balanced breakdown on who should be included in the interview process.
1. JuniorTeam Member/Peer
It's helpful to set up a junior employee to meet with a candidate if the candidate will be managing a team or have the potential to do so. For more senior hires, this way a candidate can understand what the experience will be in terms of mentoring and/or coaching. It also gives the candidate a look into what the team they might manage looks like.
A team member can provide a day to day view of the team functions as well as the culture as they see it. This conversation should provide the candidate with more of an understanding of their day-to-day on a managing level OR the team they'll be working with. Even if the role being hired for is that of a change agent (with the ability to overhaul a team), meeting with team members is helpful. This will provide more of a view on what needs to change or who needs to change. Even though the employee connecting with your candidate may be on the junior side or a potential team member, they will be able to provide a great deal of information of their future day-to-day activities.
For teams that are hiring, including junior employees brings a number of benefits. On one hand, being able to see what a new manager brings to the table can help to ease the transition (especially when junior candidates feel they are included in the decision making process). On the other, junior candidates can get an opportunity to discuss previous mentoring successes. Sometimes, junior candidates might be too timid to ask direct questions, but if HR coaches them to bring up accomplishments in training, it can be very valuable. One of my favorite questions from a junior candidate to a senior candidate is 'what roles have some of the people who worked for you in the past gone on to take over… it separates the folks that truly care about their direct reports from the ones who are paying lip service.
2. Direct Supervisor/GM
A direct supervisor will need to be able to provide the goals for the role, career path and their view of the culture as they see it. The goals will include day-to-day expectations as well as overall metrics for success within the role. By meeting these goals, quota is met and bonuses are made (if the role has bonuses or commission available).
Direct managers must be sure to cover the career path with each potential employee, even if it's a branded hotel and it may seem like common knowledge. Every property/company is different and things can change or be different based on the size of the team.
We're seeing a new hiring landscape where many of today's best candidates are just as interested in corporate culture as they are career path. If a property, company or hotel-tech startup has initiatives for giving back to the community, unique team building components, or even a well stocked fridge, these are all things that can help a hiring manager point a strong image of life at a company.
Finally, there's an element of transparency at play. Supervisors should also cover why people have failed and succeeded in the past as a way to provide insight to this potential employee.
3. Senior Employee/CEO/Founder/VP
The senior level interview should be done by someone like the founder, CEO or VP. This individual will provide the overall vision of the company and its goals from the top of the organization. Being able to tell the full story of how the company or hotel was founded, some struggles, some successes, where the company is and where they are looking to go will provide a candidate with line-of-sight into a career with the organization. This doesn't have to be a really long conversation, but it does need to paint a clear picture of the organization's mission, vision and values.
VPs or CEOs can also help to articulate how an organization solicits and acts upon feedback. Whether this means discussing 360 degree reviews (in which a candidate gets a better understanding of how their input affects their manager), or simply providing an outlet for employees who are frustrated, quality feedback loops can dramatically impact and organization and increase (or decrease) retention.
Finally, the senior level interview can also help to close quality candidates. If the hiring manager has a great track record of getting their people promoted, the senior interviewer can highlight that information, offering a sense of direction for a candidate.
4. Point Person
Finally, it's important to consider the impact the point person on a candidate might have. While the person who's handling the call screening might not be in the interview room, they will provide a great deal of ease to the interview process, especially if they greet the candidate upon entry. Having a point person for all candidates to connect with throughout the experience with your business will make the organization look more professional and minimizes the chances of anyone falling through the cracks.
It's even more important to have a point person when multiple people are involved in the interview process. They will be responsible for connecting with candidates, providing updates and coordinating next steps. This is also the person that a candidate can reach out to when they are running late or lost (yes there is a stigma to candidates who are late… but there's an entire movement on LinkedIn dedicated to being more flexible, empathetic and ultimately human when it comes to interviews).
The final takeaway for setting up interviews should be that any conversation a candidates has with an employee is meaningful. If a company is hiring a designer for the marketing team, it's totally acceptable to have the candidate interview with multiple members of the team, before providing some sort of prepared presentation. After all, that is what the role will require. The same isn't necessarily true for a front desk employee.
Finding candidates is hard, and when a role has been open for too long, it's possible to let urgency become the chief decision maker. However, companies that take the time to properly vet their own interviewing processes will ultimately make the correct hire more often than not.
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