Hiring For Soft Skills In the Hospitality Industry: 15 Tips

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Hiring for soft skills in the hospitality industry is an often overlooked facet of the hiring process. When you think about characteristics in hiring front-of-house service workers or back-of-house vital skills, soft skills whisper in the back of your mind. Listening to those whispers helps you build a staff of able, ready-to-help employees. 

In the process of hiring for soft skills in the hospitality industry, Culinary Staffing is here to help. When you hire from our pool of qualified candidates, you can rest assured we’ve measured their soft skills. To get started, read on through this Culinary Staffing blog to learn all about the soft skills to look out for in hospitality hiring.

The Interview Practice Of Hiring For Soft Skills In the Hospitality Industry 

Hiring for soft skills in the hospitality industry starts with the interview process. Some questions you can ask of candidates to evaluate for soft skills include:

  • Tell me about a time you were asked to do something you had no experience with, how did you react? What did you learn about yourself?
  • Please share a situation where you embraced a new system, process, or idea at work that was entirely new.
  • Describe a time when you needed to adjust to a colleague’s working style to achieve a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you were satisfied, energized, and productive at work. What were you doing, and how were you operating?
  • What’s something I should know about you that isn’t on your resume?
  • Tell me about one of your favorite experiences in a teamwork environment.
  • Describe the last time something didn’t go to plan at work. What was your role? How did you adapt?
  • Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make at work.
  • Describe a time you volunteered to expand your knowledge at work of your own accord.
  • What’s the biggest career goal you’ve achieved?
  • When did you last ask for direct feedback from a superior? 
  • How do you organize and schedule tasks when planning projects?
  • Describe a time when you felt stressed or overwhelmed. How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
  • How do you determine how long a task should take? How do you delegate and prioritize?

These questions provide a picture of how candidates react under pressure, when guests are riled up, and when things don’t go to plan. These are the moments when soft skills provide backup for trained techniques.

Teachable Soft Skills In the Hospitality Industry

As we dive into the soft skills most important in the hospitality industry, we’ll start with the teachable soft skills. These are skills that, while important from an innate perspective, can be trained and expanded through teamwork and clear managerial communication.

1. Direct and Clear Communication

Direct and clear communication is one of the most useful soft skills in hospitality. You can develop this skill through modeling clear communication with your team.

2. Customer Service

Customer service is the bulk of the work your staff does daily. The teachable skill of customer service revolves around always looking out for the needs of the customer.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork is a skill that can be built upon by encouraging and setting up teamwork systems and occasions. It’s also something to do in a timely manner, as not all tasks require a team effort.

4. Adaptability

Adaptability is an innate soft skill that can be sharpened over time by mixing in new situations and factors of work. The more you ease team members into needing to adapt, the more they will be able to if they’re paying attention.

5. Attention To Detail

The need to pay attention brings us to our final teachable soft skill: attention to detail. You can train for attention to detail by giving directions that lead to smaller details and giving your staff the responsibility to fully execute those tasks.

Innate Soft Skills In the Hospitality Industry

In addition to these teachable soft skills, there are some innate soft skills in the hospitality industry to seek in candidates. These innate skills are something that simply exists and can be built upon with specific tasks and responsibilities. 

1. Empathy

Empathy is the base of many soft skills. Look for it through the interview process by seeing how the candidate reacts around being asked about helping others and providing support.

2. Patience

Patience is crucial when it comes to working with guests. Guests operate on their own schedules, and it’s your staff’s job to work around that pace.

3. Friendliness

Friendliness leads to many skills in customer service and teamwork. The moment you meet a candidate you’ll have an inkling of how they’ll fit on your team with this attribute.

4. Positivity

Positivity goes hand-in-hand with friendliness as a skill in the hospitality industry. It leads to ongoing quality work and engaged staff.

5. Attentiveness

Attentiveness is the backbone of attention to detail and elevated customer service. You’ll see this skill in how someone speaks about their previous experience and career aspirations.

Managerial Soft Skills In the Hospitality Industry

A subset of hiring for soft skills in the hospitality industry is searching for soft skills in management candidates. These managerial soft skills in the hospitality industry are important in hiring people to lead your team and create innovative solutions for guest satisfaction.

1. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a key skill for managerial candidates. The ability to go beyond and find a solution is what makes your management able to cope with any given day.

2. Leadership

Leadership is an innate skill that can be trained as well. Look for the innate quality in how someone speaks about times when they’ve been put in charge of a project or team.

3. Decision-Making

Decision-making can be a hard-to-find soft skill. When someone is good at making decisions you’ll see it in their confidence in answers and overall ability in shifting situations.

4. Financial Responsibility

Financial responsibility is helpful in all management, especially for those working in your finance department. You can ask specific questions to test out this quality.

5. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is the managerial step-up from attention to detail. It brings critical thinking into the mix for a manager who is able to consider a problem and find a unique solution.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hospitality Soft Skills

The practice of hiring for soft skills in the hospitality industry inspires many questions among hiring managers and hospitality entrepreneurs. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will add to your knowledge base and help you go forward in the hiring process with confidence.

Why are Soft Skills Important In the Hospitality Industry?

The importance of soft skills in the hospitality industry revolves around managing customer experiences. All the soft skills mentioned throughout this blog tie directly to customer experience and customer satisfaction. Whether you’re managing internal issues, a supply chain hiccup, or a guest who wants something unique, soft skills represent the poise and position of managing guest needs.

What are Soft Skills Versus Hard Skills In Hospitality?

In hospitality soft skills are innate talents and traits, while hard skills are trained assets and education. Hard skills include:

  • Systems training in the business
  • Food and alcohol handling licensing
  • Customer service practice environments
  • Crisis training

These are not skills any potential employee will necessarily have within their natural toolset. When you hire through Culinary Staffing, we can narrow the list for you to people with the right hard skills. Seeking soft skills, however, will get you the people who are willing and ready to learn.

What are the Top Five Important Soft Skills?

The top five important soft skills to look out for are:

  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Critical thinking capabilities
  • Time management skills

Many other soft skills relate to these skills and spill from the list as extremely important. Overall, seek these soft skills and match them with people who fit in with your team and community environment.

Are Soft Skills Important In Tourism?

Yes, soft skills are a must in the tourism industry. Tourism and hospitality go hand-in-hand, they both are fully focused on guest, customer, and visitor experience. The most important soft skills are focused on that experience. The overall goal is to surround guests with people who are empathetic, quick to listen, and action-oriented. Searching for soft skills in the hiring process will help with your long-term customer service metrics.

Why are Soft Skills Hard To Learn?

Soft skills are hard to learn because they are, by their nature, not something that can be fully taught. They are innate characteristics that can be built on through training and practice. You can enhance soft skills through specific training, but you can’t create a characteristic that doesn’t already exist within a person. 

You can, however, teach a person to value and uphold the results of soft skills through repeated effort. This can be through hands-on training, virtual customer service situations, and empathy-based simulations. In time, these employees will build on these trainings with their own values.

Soft Skills In Hospitality: Soften Your Defining Hospitality Skills For Spectacular Customer Service 

Hiring for soft skills in the hospitality industry is the best way to ensure you have a team that will adapt and grow with your business. Trainable skills can be built on top of soft skills for cross-training and employee advancement. Starting with soft skills, however, gives you a firm foundation for employee success and guest satisfaction. 

Reach out to Culinary Staffing today to connect with our staffing experts and find the soft-skilled staff that fits your business. With your hospitality goals and our decades of staffing experience, we’ll find the right people to bring satisfaction to your guests.