6 top interview questions you need to ask

From the bizarre to the banal, the list of questions that could be asked at an interview is endless – and subject to variables based on the role, company and industry doing the hiring. As a result, there are some core questions that all candidates should be asked as part of any interview process, as well as those that specifically gauge someone’s suitability for a role in the hospitality industry. With that in mind, here’s a cocktail of six great questions to assess a candidate’s suitability – and why they’re helpful.

A job interview needs to keep multiple plates spinning. First and foremost, it needs to address two key areas: the candidate’s attitude and aptitude, and whether they’ll be a good fit for the company’s culture. So as well as questions that will measure the range and level of skills, they need to assess an applicant’s desire to join the organisation, and their ability to fit in.

1. Why do you want this job?

A fairly standard question, you might think, but one that can be difficult to answer without leaning on clichés and generalisations. An answer to this question should ideally convey enthusiasm, interest for the particular opportunity and evidence of the candidate having done some good old-fashioned homework on the organisation and what exactly what the role entails. Failure to provoke a knowledgeable answer should set off the alarm bells.

2. When it comes to work, what are your main motivations?

Are they looking to develop their skills; do they feel passionate about the industry you operate in; are customer satisfaction and interaction with people what drives them? This is a question that should provide a handy snapshot of what drives the individual that’s sat across the desk or at the other end of the phone.

3. What would you describe as your greatest weakness?

This is a tricky one to answer and one that people can often stumble over, but it’s a good way to see how an interviewee reacts under pressure. The answer should be honest, without revealing a major flaw that writes off the candidate entirely. The best answers are those that admit a weakness and describe steps taken to remedy the problem.

4. What type of people do you like to work with?

Answers to this question will help you discover whether the person you are interviewing will fit into your existing team. This is essential for cultural fit and will help enable long-term retention.

5. Tell me about the most difficult individual you have ever had to deal with. What was the problem, what did you do and what was the outcome?

Measured thinking is crucial here. Does the interviewee recognise that difficult individuals (be they customers, clients or colleagues) are part and parcel of the industry you work in, or do they get worked up and bent out of shape when they are describing the situation? Is what they consider to be ‘difficult’ a fair assessment or an overreaction and, most importantly, did the way that they handled the situation align with the policies and values of your company? If not, do you get the sense that this individual would be able to adapt accordingly?

6. Describe the most positive team you have ever worked in? What made it this way?

A question like this will help to measure levels of awareness of both interpersonal and team skills. If someone has stopped to think about what made a team successful in the past and taken these considerations on board, they may be perceptive, self-aware and a possible leader of tomorrow.

While these questions form a broad base from which the interviewer can gain essential insights into what drives an interviewee; what they’ve done in the past and what they may be capable of doing in future – these shouldn’t be the only questions asked. These should be supplemented with enquiries into areas specific to the business in question. If conducted well, the interview process can be lean and efficient, and help find the best people fast.

The Countdown Continues

The excitement is building as the countdown continues toward the outstanding Caterer.com People Awards 2016.

We’re sure you don’t need reminding that our glittering Awards ceremony will take place at the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster Bridge on the 12th October when we’ll be celebrating the very best in Hospitality Recruitment, Retention and Development.

It’s a real time of change in the Hospitality sector. Despite Brexit, UK unemployment sits at just 5% and new talent, new projects and new initiatives are coming into play, all ensuring better experiences, not only for employees and candidates, but for your customers too. This, coupled with a healthy return of profits, shows that the industry is growing and the Shortlist for our Caterer.com People Awards is the perfect reflection of that. , Without doubt, recruiting top talent in the hospitality industry has always been and will always be a challenge.  It’s how employers deal with these issues that can turn the tide.

Take one employer in our shortlist for example: the Z Hotel Group. Z Hotels operate eight luxury, boutique hotels within the UK, six of them in London. They make great investments in their 190 staff and not just monetarily. All hotel staff from Duty Managers to Guest Services Assistants are made to feel like Brand Ambassadors, creative individuals, providing Z Hotels with its USP. Guest feedback reveals that Z’s staff is one of the main reasons they choose to return time and again.

For all businesses, labour turnover doesn’t only present a cost to business in terms of filling vacant positions but it’s also a loss of talent and operational knowledge to the company. Within the market, Z Hotels is a small but fast growing organisation, with many opportunities for internal progression. However, turnover was at a rate that needed to be managed more proactively in order to retain that talent and develop it as the company expanded.

The Z Group created several initiatives including a Management Academy, which developed a structured cross-training policy, a mentoring programme and a development map for potential Duty Managers. This was key, as Duty Managers were empowered to steer these new projects and to involve all members of staff, thus triggering a higher level of engagement. Since the implementation of these initiatives, internal applications with the Z Hotel Groups have increased, turnover has dropped and they maintain a stability rate of 67%, an improvement on the previous year. Z Hotels are on this year’s Caterer.com People Awards shortlist in the Employee Engagement Programme category.

Sir Richard Branson once said, “Train people well enough so that they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Wise words, indeed. Words not wasted on the team at another of our shortlisted employers; Anglian Country Inns.

As you grow as a company and deal with the day-to-day complications that success delivers, it’s sometimes easy to forget where you started and the values that got you to where you are now. Anglian Country Inns, in the truest sense of the term, is a family company. Cliff Nye fell in love with the view from the back of a rundown Norfolk pub. Knowing nothing about the publican trade, he bought the pub anyway. Before long, The White Horse was winning awards. The company now runs a portfolio of seven pubs, with a microbrewery thrown in for good measure. Naturally, as a result, staff numbers have risen. The Nye family have always valued their staff and have worked hard to treat them as members of that family, so to ensure that this strong bond continues into the future, Anglian Country Inns developed a rewards programme which reinforced ‘Family, Friends, Focus & Fun’, a comprehensive discount scheme, reduced prices on bicycles for staff, regular staff outings allowing them to experience some of the finest hospitality the industry can offer and gym membership. The company also launched the MAD (Making a Difference) Awards, where staff can nominate colleagues that they felt were making a real difference to the company and the working environment. Winners receive and all expenses paid trip to Portugal.

Anglian Country Inns staff work together and play together. They have 56% staff retention in the past year, team building has paid off with staff coming together to raise thousands of pounds for charity and a lot of internal promotion. The company continues to go from strength to strength and have made it to the Caterer.com People Awards shortlist in the Rewards and Benefits category.

The Hospitality industry is expansive and varied, butall employers work toward the same goal: running a successful enterprise, and importantly, providing an amazing experience for the customer. It’s our people that get us there. So come and celebrate those people at Caterer.com’s People Awards. Tickets include a welcoming drinks reception, a three-course dinner designed by Executive Head Chef Olivier Ruiz and his team, the Awards presentation hosted by the wonderful Stephen Mangan and dancing until late with incredible DJ, B-Trix Kiddo. All this under the glamorous roof of the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge. Join us on October 12. More information can be found here or book here now.


Celebrated Chef, Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL, Hosts Apprentice Graduation at Café Spice Namaste for Umbrella Training

“Apprenticeships are vital for the development of industry” Say’s Cyrus Todiwala.

Last night (30 August 2016) at world famous Café Spice Namaste, Apprentices from Umbrella Training received their apprenticeship certificates from award-winning and the 2014 BBC Food Personality of the Year Chef, Cyrus Todiwala, at a VIP Event.

Attended by some of the great and good of the industry, the 69 apprentices who have completed their 12 to 18-month apprenticeship programme in the last 4 months – from novice to expert – were recognised for their commitment to lifelong learning and the achievement of sustainable employment with employers including Lancaster London, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, Patty & Bun and Georgian House Hotel.

At the event, Todiwala shared his views on apprenticeships: “Apprenticeships are a vital ingredient for our industry; helping to attract talent, retain them and develop them to be the very best in our industry.”

Adele Oxberry, Managing Director at Umbrella Training added: “It fills us with great pride to see our learners graduating this evening. They joined us with little or no experience in the hospitality sector and leave us for great roles in fantastic businesses. While the vast majority of their success comes from their own commitment to the apprenticeship, it cannot be achieved without the strong support from their employer. Our sector is a wonderful place for an apprentice to learn skills and nurture their talents; we need to offer more of this to those who are looking for a career in service and so thank our employer partners for their continued focus on apprenticeships.”

As part of the framework of the apprenticeship leaners, who range in age, ability and background, achieve functional skills in Maths, English & ICT, Technical certificates (Food Safety for example) and a NVQ level 2 to level 5, plus learning about British Values and Employment Rights & Responsibilities. Umbrella works closely with employers to help nurture the apprentice ensuring they gain lifelong learning.

Jess Baker, an Umbrella Apprentice at Hampton Court Golf Club said: “I am so happy to have achieved my apprenticeship in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership at level 3 and thank you Umbrella Training for helping me at every step of the way, this apprenticeship has given me confidence to be a better hospitality professional and now I am looking forward to the next part of my career.”

Kitchen Inspirations

The event also launched Kitchen Inspirations, a series of short films where industry chefs cook and talk about the sector, apprenticeships and give valuable advice to aspiring chefs.  In the first feature, Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL and Ben Purton from Lancaster London share their stories and serve two fantastic dishes – Beetroot marinated Scottish salmon by Ben Purton and LEELI KOLMI NI CURRY by Cyrus Todiwala.

The video can be viewed here: http://www.umbrellatraining.co.uk/kitchen-inspirations/ and people are encouraged to vote for their favourite through @UmbrellaTES on Twitter.


About Umbrella Training

Umbrella Training and Employment Solutions is an Elite Hospitality Apprenticeship provider which offers over 100 years’ hospitality experience, work-based learning and tailored assessment for your organisation.

As the experts, we understand how important it is for employers to maximise their return on investment while implementing new and exciting apprenticeship programmes. And so we work collaboratively with our learner and employer partners to deliver quality and consistent training to our apprentices.

Cingo Recruit Sponsors the 2016 Caterer.com People Awards

We are pleased to announce that Cingo Recruit will be sponsoring the Candidate Experience category at this year’s Caterer.com People Awards.

Cingo Recruit is an online recruitment platform that allows employers to interview prospective candidates via an internet based video link. Supported with specialist software, Cingo makes the selection process simple, efficient and arguably more cost effective.

Meeting a potential employee face-to-face is not always possible, especially if recruiting over distance. Cingo enables recruitment managers to manage their candidates as well as customise and brand the online interview space to fit with their corporate identity.

Cingo Recruit has been created to meet the needs of different organisations, from in-house human resources departments to recruitment and outsourcing agencies. The option of both offline and real-time interviews can be used for different seniority levels, from hiring top executives to temporary seasonal staff. Cingo is free to use for jobseekers. They can upload video CVs and hone their interview techniques in the practice area, as well as connecting with hiring businesses.

Cingo help’s recruiters form a better picture of the candidate, more so than reading a CV, and can also help in creating a more focused candidate shortlist. In addition, Cingo allows recruiters to record interviews in the cloud which can then be shared to a wider range of decision makers, thus delivering a more balanced outcome.

From a candidate viewpoint, Cingo Recruit, Head of Sales, Neil Brodie said, “Our technology gives candidates the opportunity to present themselves to a wider audience. This can be done by simply creating a video CV or by taking part in an offline or live interview, all of which is recorded online for sharing with future employers and HR managers alike. We are delighted to sponsor Caterer.com’s People Awards in the Candidate Experience category.”

Without our sponsors, our Caterer.com People Awards would not be possible and we are extremely grateful to Cingo Recruit for its generous support.


#PeopleAwards #BeThere Caterer.com/PeopleAwards



Tickets Selling Fast for the 2016 Caterer.Com People Awards

The Hospitality Recruitment event of the year is happening on October 12 at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge and you’re invited. Tickets for the glittering Caterer.com People Awards 2016 are selling fast and we don’t want you to miss out!

Over 500 employers, leaders, innovators and decision makers will be in attendance to celebrate all that’s best in Hospitality Recruitment, Retention and Development.

Last year was incredible (just take a look at the video below) but our awards this year take on a brand new and exciting format that ultimately celebrate and reward your hard work and invention, and your dedication to this amazing industry.

Tickets include a networking drinks reception, a wonderful three-course dinner designed by Executive Head Chef Olivier Ruiz and his talented Park Plaza Banqueting Team, wine, all hosted by the brilliant Stephen Managan and after the Awards ceremony DJ BTrix-Kiddo will lead us into the early hours!

Tables of 10 £1800 + vat
Individual tickets £200 + vat
Larger tables: price on application

To book, contact the team at awards@caterer.com

Caterer.com People Awards 2016. People make these awards what they are. #PeopleAwards  #BeThere  Caterer.com/PeopleAwards

 View last year’s Awards highlights – click on the image below:



Nicholas Jon Recruitment Sponsor Caterer.com People Awards 2016

We extend a very warm welcome to Nicholas Jon Recruitment as sponsors of the Emerging Talent Initiative Category in the 2016 Caterer.com People Awards.

After working for other, non-specialist agencies, and feeling hugely disaffected by the service they provided, Nick Hodgson formed Nicholas Jon Recruitment in 2008.

Spanning the industry from gastro pubs to five star hotels, the team at Nicholas Jon possess a wealth of experience in Hospitality, and know that getting things right takes time and know-how.

Nicholas Jon work under the maxim of ‘Quality not Quantity’, they supply only permanent staff and if the right candidate isn’t immediately available for the required vacancy, they continue their search to the mutual satisfaction of employee and employer.

All members at Nicholas Jon remain in love with the business, they like to keep their fingers the on the pulse, keeping abreast of changes in the fast moving world of Hospitality. “We want to stay ahead of the game. It’s our life!” says Nick Hodgson, Managing Director.

We are delighted that Nicholas Jon Recruitment decided to support this year’s Caterer.com People Awards and sponsor the Emerging Talent Initiative category. Nicholas Jon is a young and vibrant company and their dedication to the Hospitality industry perfectly represents this strong category.

Nick Hodgson said, “We are incredibly proud to be sponsoring the Emerging Talent Initiative Award.  We truly believe that it is an awesome opportunity to recognise the companies who are investing time into their teams. This is something we believe is imperative and is a keystone of Nicholas Jon’s mentality.”

Without our sponsors our Caterer.com People Awards cannot take place and Caterer.com would like to thank Nicholas Jon Recruitment for their support. Awards night is October 12 at Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London. Tickets are available now.

#PeopleAwards  #BeThere

Caterer.com People Awards 2016 – We Grow By Sharing

The glittering Caterer.com People Awards are getting ever closer, and as the shortlist proves, innovation rules! Innovation borne from an enthusiasm and love for this industry, and a desire to see talent nurtured and rewarded.

The Park Plaza Hotel,Westminster Bridge will be the place to be on October 12 when we discover just who has won these coveted awards. The Shortlist is a diverse tapestry, spanning the sector from small family businesses to large multinationals. Bringing them together are the challenges that the sector has been facing for a while but also that spark of innovation and the understanding that developing talent is the key to the future.

So much has been reported about a perceived skills shortage in the Hospitality industry, and surely this has been a frustrating issue for some, but with patience and perseverance, positive results are achievable. The five-star Grand Hotel is one of Eastbourne’s biggest employers, but like many across the business with a high staff turnover, they found that filling vacant positions became increasingly difficult. Their 2AA Rosette flagship restaurant had 14 chef vacancies, many of these remained unfilled for between six months and a year. Another issue faced, and again felt sector-wide, is that the Hospitality Industry isn’t perceived as being a rewarding and fulfilling career choice.

The Grand Hotel reached out to the community. They worked closely with local schools and colleges to arrange regular visits and talks to prepare young people for the work place. Since the start of this year, they have offered work experience to 26 students. This coupled with continued internal training and facing potential problems head-on means that kitchen positions were filled, internal promotions increased and staff turnover has fallen. The Grand,Eastbourne joins the Shortlist for Emerging Talent Initiative.

Durham Universities one of the oldest and most respected educational institutions in the world. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t usually its Catering Department. However, consider this: There are 26 cafes across the colleges and the department employs over 500 staff. They serve more than 500,000 meals every month, not just to students, but to visitors and VIPs, including royalty. Again the challenges are the same. Perception and skills: School dinners? Absolutely not! Catering staff within the University are highly skilled and dynamic members of the team, so to convey an accurate picture of life within the department, an exciting video was created to outline their purpose and strategy. They also adopted a view of ‘Recruit for Personality, Train for Skill’. Traditional interview techniques were replaced with an energetic ‘speed dating’ style process. The initiatives were numerous and the work paid off with an increase in successful inductees, a reduction in staff turnover, 82% of induction feedback was scored as ‘Excellent’. Durham University Catering Department have more than earned their place on the Shortlist for Leadership in Recruitment, Retention and Development, but is it enough? All will be revealed on October 12.

This is an extremely exciting time to part of this sector. New ideas and new initiatives are being employed to tap into talent as yet undeveloped. We grow as an industry by sharing in our success.

The very special Caterer.com People Awards invite you to do just that. Tickets are still available for the Hospitality Recruitment event of the year. Join us and many others in the industry to celebrate this amazing success. Tickets include a welcoming drinks reception, a three-course dinner designed by Executive Head Chef Olivier Ruiz and his team, the Awards presentation hosted by the wonderful Stephen Mangan and dancing until late with incredible DJ, B-Trix Kiddo. All this under the glamorous roof of the Park Plaza,Westminster Bridge. Join us on October 12. More information can be found here or book here now.

Part & Company Sponsor Caterer.com People Awards 2016

We are delighted that sponsoring this year’s Caterer.com People Awards are Part & Company, Recruitment specialists for the food and drinks Industry. Founded by former Chef, Simon Part, Part & Company offer a unique, tailor-made service for all corners of the Hospitality trade.

Starting his career within pubs and specifically The Famous Young’s Brewery in Wandsworth, Simon quickly developed a love of food and drink. Quite by accident he fell into the kitchen, found his niche and decided to train on the job. Working for chefs such as The Roux family, Marco Pierre White and Gary Rhodes, Simon became enamoured with all aspects of the Hospitality industry.

After the kitchen came Simon’s front of house experience literally going back to the floor, working within neighbourhood destination restaurants. This is where his love for guest interaction and natural hospitality were polished.

Combining all of his experiences, and after an invitation to work within a start-up Boutique Hotel company to source the staff for 3 sites, he saw the gap in the market and Part & Company was formed nine years ago.

Part & Company’s vast network of contacts in the food and drink industry enables them to recruit the right people for the right job. Having a driven team of hard working recruitment specialists makes Part & Company efficient, thoroughly professional and an accomplished performer in the industry.

Part & Company offers a personal recruitment service, as each requirement needs individual tailoring. This strategic approach enables them to build long-term relationships with clients and candidates.

Part & Company’s brief is as wide as the industry itself. They provide staff from Apprentice Chefs to General Managers, Human Resources to Butlers. Part & Company’s portfolio spans Restaurants, Hotels, Pubs Bars and even Luxury Boats. The beauty of what Part & Company does is that rather than making a placement, they make the best choices for both employer and employee, enhancing their client’s service and creating the perfect career move for the individual on a long term basis.

Simon Part says, “The ethos of the company hasn’t changed. I want Part & Company to provide that hands-on, individual service that clients want and value now and long into the future. In essence great Hospitality but from a recruited point of view.”

Part & Company covers not only all of the UK from Aberdeen to Andover, but also across the world including France, Spain, the USA and Dubai with clients including Galvin Restaurants, Corbin & King, The Palomar and Trinity.

www.partandcompany.com #People Awards #BeThere

Our Caterer.com People Awards would not be possible without the support of our valued sponsors and we are grateful to Part & Company for sponsoring our Social Media and the category for In-House Recruitment Team, helping to ensure that the evening on October 12 at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge will be a huge success.

Tickets now on sale for the spectacular Caterer.com People Awards 2016

The excitement is building and tickets are selling fast for the spectacular Caterer.com People Awards 2016. The event, on October 12 at the Park Plaza Hotel,Westminster Bridge, will welcome 500 guests and will be a glamorous celebration of all that’s best in Hospitality Recruitment, Retention and Development.

Since the Awards Shortlist was announced last week, what has become apparent is the sheer quality of the entries. Judging was a tough task and the 2016 entries prove that the standard in all categories is the highest its ever been.

New, exciting and innovative programmes initiated by the industry have demonstrated resilience and invention. These initiatives have ensured that employee satisfaction has risen and the customer experience has been enhanced.

It’s been somewhat of a year for Soho House with a challenging eight international and domestic openings in the space of four months. 650 staff were required to fill not just traditional hospitality roles, but positions such as Bike Mechanic, Beekeeper and Architect. The pressure was surely on and lesser teams could quite easily have crumbled. NotSohoHouse. Unity is strength and HR, Learning & Development and Employee Relations worked together to form a recruitment ‘Task Force’. The results were creative and effective; poster campaigns, video production, the ‘Introduce a Star’ initiative and internal awareness campaigns which offered transfers to existing talent, all proved successful in recruiting the required staff and ensuring all launches happened smoothly. Soho House sits proudly on the Shortlist for In-House Recruitment Team.

What if only a small fraction of your new recruits were receiving a detailed, comprehensive induction? What if your employees didn’t feel like they belonged to your company? What if they had no idea how to move on and succeed within your company? These were just a few of the problems faced by Fuller’s. For an organisation that prides itself on a warm welcome for customers, that welcome has to start with staff. Fuller’s carefully and patiently created The Doors Programme, a gateway to all courses and development within the company. The recruitment and induction stage, known as Take Me On ensures that each candidate is partnered with a fully trained mentor, an Induction Buddy. The implementation of The Doors Programme has seen a 70% rise in retention and promotion, with all managers across the company using the programme to recruit.. Fuller’s join the Shortlist in the Candidate Experience category.

Employing a Kung Fu Barista could be a Health & Safety disaster waiting to happen. The very idea sounds crazy, but this is a programme, developed by LeonRestaurants, designed among other reasons to improve Heath & Safety.Leon also sought to improve upon its staff’s speed, efficiency and effectiveness, to create a new market identity for itself and to increase customer numbers, brand awareness and profitability. Importantly,Leon wanted to retain higher numbers of recruits by creating a less-stress environment. This comes from within. Enter the Wing Sun Kung Fu Master. Trainees were taught using ancient Oriental techniques to improve, speed, quality and effectiveness. Throughout the team, stress levels and heart rates decreased and staff used what they learned, not just at work, but in their personal lives too. Customers were receiving their orders more quickly and the quality of the coffee improved.Leon sits serenely on the Shortlist for Employee Engagement.

Toasting the hard work of all the shortlisted companies and brands at the People Awards is essential in the continual evolution and improvement of Hospitality Recruitment, Retention and Development. So join us on October 12 for a wonderful three-course dinner, wine, entertainment and an evening to remember. Ticketing details can be found here and you can make your booking via awards@caterer.com

Celebrate your team at the HR in hospitality 2016 Awards!

The HR in hospitality Awards take place on Friday 30th September at the Jumeriah Knightsbridge, and you can be there too to celebrate HR Excellence.

There is still time to enter with the deadline closing next week. The Awards are free to enter so celebrate your success at one of the industry’s leading Awards!

There are 9 categories to enter including Excellence in Employee Engagement, Excellence in Building Capability, HR Team of the Year, Excellence in Innovative Recruitment,  Excellence in Embedding Company Culture, Excellence in CSR, Excellence in Promoting Careers, HR Rising Star and the Tom Crowley Award.

Any organisation in the hospitality sector may enter; the awards are open to (but not limited to) hotels, restaurants, high street retail café operators and contract caterers who are currently members of HR in hospitality or looking to join.

Caterer.com have partnered with and supported HR in hospitality for many years as they deliver invaluable insight and support to their members in the HR community in the sector. We sponsor their awards, and offer a £2,500 scholarship to an HR rising star to help progress their career. Well worth entering!

Enter now

For more information about the Awards, please email esther@eohbusinesssolutions.com

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