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3 Things Hospitality Employers Look For in Job Applicants

Image of Hotel Kronenhirsch, Schattau 34, 5442 Russbach am Pass Gschütt,
CC Image Courtesy of Hotel Kronenhirsch

Regardless of which position you plan on applying for in the hospitality, there are 3 basic characteristics that all employers look for in a job applicant. In fact, they’re not just basic characteristic, they are fundamental qualities. Almost every single quality an employer is looking for in a new job applicant can be categorized under these three things:

  1. Attitude
  2. Aptitude
  3. Appearance


By attitude I mean the right attitude for the hospitality industry and the job you are applying for. The hospitality industry is personal people based industry, which means that you cannot do your job or generate any revenue for your company without having lots of personal interactions with many people from within your company (coworkers) and outside the company (customers, vendors and suppliers). So employers are looking for employees who have the right temperament of this industry. They’re looking for employees who are:

  • Smiling
  • Positive
  • Enthusiastic
  • Love serving others
  • Team players
  • Problem solver

Think about it, if you were running a business that relied on your customers having a great experience every time they came to your establishment, would you want to hire someone who:

  • Doesn’t smile
  • Complains
  • Is pessimistic
  • Hates doing things for others
  • Wants to be left alone and work on their own
  • Keeps coming back to you to resolve every problem or complaint

Well if you’re running an old fashion accounting firm and like to micro-manage you probably prefer the latter, but in the hospitality industry where most of what is sold to customers is an intangible experience, an employee with the right attitude can make or break your business!

Hospitality employers have often say that they can train a new employee to prepare food, or serve a guest, or use the POS system, or check-in a guest in a hotel, but what they cannot teach a new employee is how to have a good attitude. You either have it or you don’t!

If you don’t, you can certain choose to work on developing a better attitude. It won’t be easy or quick, but it is certainly doable.


No, I’m not referring to your IQ! However, I am referring to your ability to do the following “quickly” as it relates to the job you are applying for:

  1. Understand
  2. Learn
  3. Do 

Employers want to know that you understand what your role is in the organization, what you are supposed to do, learn how to do it in a relatively short period of time, and do it well. Regrettably, this is where many employers do a lousy job. Many employers will look for new employees with the right attitude and aptitude, but they’ll fail to provide them with the proper training and time to learn how to do the job well. Since this is a reality in this industry, rather than complain, take charge and learn how to do the job well and fast.


Who ever said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” was living in a bubble. As human beings we tend to judge everything we see and come into contact with based on first impression. Employers WILL judge you based on your cover. The question is, “what does your cover look like?” When people look at you do they see and think of you as a:

  • Professional
  • Confident person
  • Positive
  • Caring

It doesn’t matter what job you’re applying for whether it’s a manager’s job or an entry-level job, you need to look professional when you’re applying for a job. You need to exude confidence by looking people in the eye and maintaining a proper posture, speaking clearly, using a firm hand-shake. You need to show that you’re positive and caring and the best way to do that is to SMILE! Remember your face and the way you look on the surface will eventually represent your company if you are hired. Many employers will look at you and immediately form a judgment about whether or not you have the right “look” for their company. They’ll do this before you even open your mouth to speak or before they look at your job application or resume. Your face, clothes, grooming standards, and demeanor ALL say something about you, even if your mouth is shut! We communicate even when we’re not talking.

If you’re not sure what the right look is, visit the company in advance and observe what their employees and managers wear. Look for the most professional looking person in the company and model yourself after them.

Well, I hope you found this post useful. If you did, I’d be grateful if you’d help spread the word by sharing this with friends or colleagues on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or any other social media platform you use.

Dr. Fawaz Al-Malood

Dr. Fawaz Al-Malood is a college administrator, author, blogger, YouTuber, and podcaster. He holds a doctorate in education management from the University of South Africa, a MBA from Western Governors University, a MS in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University, a bachelors in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Administration, and a Swiss Diploma in Hotel Management from the Hotel Institute Montreux. He is the Founder of a blog dedicated to sharing successful strategies on: teaching, productivity, and professional development for college educators.