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Hotel Phone Interviews: New Basics

Originally featured on HotelExecutive –https://www.hotelexecutive.com/business_review/5730/hotel-phone-interviews-new-basics

The candidate screening process tends to include a number of early steps before connecting for a face to face interview, and ultimately making an offer for employment. Whether you’re looking for a front line employee for a hotel property, or trying to find the right developer for a travel tech company, there tend to be common steps, such as rifling through a huge number of resumes, and selecting a handful of candidates to move into the phone screening phase.

While these are only the first steps to finding the right employee, there are a number of pitfalls that may inadvertently disqualify the best candidate. This can lead to roles being filled with less than ideal candidates (and an increase in the necessary training time), or even adding to the amount of time a company operates while understaffed (putting undo burden on current employees and hurting productivity). Here are a few tips to ensure that phone interviews, an early phase in the hiring process can be easier and more effective.

Build a Scouting Report

Before making the first call to a candidate, hotel leaders and hiring managers should find out more about with whom they will be speaking. If the candidate was sourced by a recruiter or another manager, it’s easy to take a few minutes to review their resume, but also ask for more details. Hirers can look at who employs them and how long they have been there. Some hotels and travel tech companies are known for hiring a specific type employee. While the reputation may not be applied to that particular job candidate, it’s good to keep in mind. Others hotels and travel tech companies have a history of being tough and employees that are successful in that environment can be successful almost anywhere. These types of employers are great for training future employees. It’s also helpful to do a quick Google search and see if anything pops up about this candidate. Everything from LinkedIn to Instagram can help to paint a picture of a candidate.

Formally Book the Call

It’s easy to think that a spontaneous call is convenient, and that catching someone off guard will make them think on their feet. The reality, however, is that the approach won’t give the candidate the opportunity to prepare and present their best self. When current employees show up to the office, they have time to mentally prepare; candidates should get the same opportunity.

If the call is scheduled via phone, hiring managers should follow up with a confirmation email and send a calendar invitation. To make things easier for the candidate, the calendar invite should include the job description. It can also be a nice courtesy to include the company website, job details, and job description.

Intro:

The first step in a call to a candidate should explain the actual interview process. “I’ll cover x, y and z” OR “please feel free to ask questions throughout the conversation.” Whatever the process is, communicating it to the candidate so they have an understanding of what to expect will make it easier for them to meet expectations. While it may seem like common sense, it’s also important for interviewers to introduce themselves. This might include current role, previous roles with the company, etc. A candidate who hears about someone’s growth path within a company is more likely to be excited about the role.

Someone who is brand new to a company should still take the time to discuss professional history. New hires can cover why they were brought in, specific goals and previous experience. New hires are also uniquely positioned to offer first-hand impressions of on-boarding. This can give the candidate a feeling of how the transition will be for the when joining the team. It can also provide the candidate with the feeling of comradery. If the employer has been with the company longer, the experience can really give the candidate a feeling of what is to come. The purpose of making this intro is to start building a relationship and potential find a connection.

The Candidate:

One of the first questions a hiring manager should ask is about why the candidate is looking for a new role. Candidates can have quite a few different reasons why they are taking the call. The candidate may be focused on growth. If that’s the case, then interviewers can cover what a candidate has done in order to be promoted at their current property. This can help hirers figure out if the candidate is actually ready for the next step/promotion that comes in taking a new role.

If the candidate is looking for a new role because of a management issues, leaders can focus on what they see as candidate issues, ensuring that there aren’t many parallels between the candidate’s current managers, and the leadership team they’d be working with in a new property. This question can also allow hiring managers to to have an understanding of how this candidate deals with conflict since they deal with it day in and out with their management.

Another suggestion regarding questions covers how a candidate has been successful with their current role. This will help leaders figure out if the potential new hire’s working style/ view on success will match the expectations of a property or travel tech company. If the candidate has been at their current company for a long time, the phone screening is also a great way to identify if they’re really ready to leave. Sometimes candidates participate in calls, but aren’t actually ready to make the jump.

Alternatively, candidates that have jumped around and haven’t stayed at properties or companies for very long should be given an opportunity to discuss why this is. Hiring managers shouldn’t assume the worst; there are legitimate reasons for accumulating a few roles in a couple of years. Hotels change management, which can mean reassembling their own team members, layoffs may occur, etc. Whatever the reason, hiring leaders should make sure to ask how the candidate views the situation. If they have jumped around because they didn’t like their roles, hirers can ask them to explain why this opportunity would be different. It’s best to know where the candidate is coming from.

The Role:

The best way to find out if the candidate is a good fit for the role is to ask them what they are doing every day in their current role. While many roles at hotels and travel tech companies are very similar, some companies combine roles because of budget or focus on a very specific task. Going over the details of the opportunity after current skills have been covered can be helpful to figure out skillset fit. If a candidate is focused on one task as their daily job, they will likely need training for a property that requires them to do more. Hiring managers should have a conversation about the current responsibilities to find out if they are really comfortable with the job itself, covering how candidates approach training (and even whether they’ve taken any responsibility for their own learning). This can be taking classes, watching videos or asking questions. Whatever it may be, training is key for growth. If a candidate has no interest in training, then they will have a hard time with career growth, and may not be the right fit for a position.

Connection:

When chatting with the candidate about the opportunity, it’s important to listen to the candidate. This might even mean shutting down email or Slack. It may seem odd to say, but if a candidate is taking the time to offer their best to a hiring manager, it’s incumbent on the hiring manager to do that same. Sometimes candidates will ramble because they don’t know how to answer or they don’t have the skillset. This should be a focus throughout the conversation. Hiring managers must give the candidate an opportunity to ask questions at the end. Even if a hiring manager believes that they may have answered a candidate’s questions throughout the conversation, they candidate may not have understood something; this isn’t a sign of the candidate not being prepared. Candidates who come with questions tend to have put more homework into the opportunity. This should be viewed as a positive.

Next Steps

If the candidate doesn’t have any questions at the end, but hiring managers feel like they should, it’s OK to allow a candidate to send email follow up. For hirers, this can mean asking them to get in touch with any additional requests by a certain date. In some instances, it’s also OK to ask the candidate to research the hotel or hospitality software and come back with further thoughts in a follow up call. For hiring managers who take this route, it’s important to include specific questions for a candidate to be able to answer. Homework should only be assigned to candidates who are seriously under consideration.

Once a hiring manager is confident about moving forward, they must be clear as to what the process is and how soon an in-person interview will be booked. They must also confirm availability (a candidate that’s scheduled to travel shortly may need to push back time frame… for candidates who have presented an outstanding phone interview, this can be worthwhile for the property). It is also important to know how readily they can make a move. Will they need to provide 2 weeks, a month or longer? This can differ based on the seniority of the role.

When on a phone interview, keep in mind that the point is to try to connect with the candidate and figure out if they are a good hotel/travel tech company fit. This is a first step and hopefully the beginning of building the work relationship. If the phone interview is done right it will provide one of two things, the base of a work relationship to work off of for the interview or a good stopping point for this candidate.

Originally featured on HotelExecutive –https://www.hotelexecutive.com/business_review/5730/hotel-phone-interviews-new-basics