Hospitality Manager: Informational Interview Report

[Thanks to JL for sharing his informational interview report about hospitality management.]

My current career goal is to work as a manager in a hospitality setting. I would like to score a career position that offers a pay grade of 70K+ a year. After doing some thorough research on websites like Eureka, I was able to find a similar position titled “Human Resources Manager.”

For my informational interview, I interviewed my former boss who manages two premium clubs at two different companies. He is also making a more than decent enough pay grade.

My main goal for the informational interview was to gain a clearer insight into the prerequisites needed to achieve a higher position in management. I wanted to know whether it was experience, degrees, networking contacts, building relationships with important people, etc.

Below are my questions and the responses from the person I interviewed:

I know that you spent 3+ years working as a manager at your current company, but how did you start out in this industry? Did you start out as a manager?

I started out as a bartender at a restaurant chain after receiving my degree in BS Hospitality, which is equivalent to Hotel and Restaurant Management. Personally, I thought I was going to move up in the restaurant and continue to grow, but I saw no growth after working there for two years. I tried to speak to managers and people higher up, but no one really encouraged growth at this company. Also, the reason why I decided to start out as a bartender was because I wanted to get a feel for the company before I started out managing with my degree. After leaving the company, I applied for a manager position at my current company and got interviewed the next morning.

Is there something you wish you’d known, or a skill you wish you’d had, starting out in the hospitality industry? Is there something you wish you had done differently starting out?

I wish I interviewed someone in the past rather than going in blind and just starting from the bottom. I should have taken a chance and applied for a manager position anyway, even if I did not get my application considered. That was so stupid of me. Who knows? I could have been in a position higher than what I am in now instead of wasting all that time being someone’s dog. Either way, I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out. It’s just if I had another chance, I would do it that way.

What’s the culture like at the different companies?

There are very much differences in culture. At one of the locations (Oracle Arena), the atmosphere is just so lively and spirited. Work doesn’t even feel like work sometimes. I was really excited when I heard back from the manager there and they had an opening for a club manager. I always dreamed of working for the Warriors.

What’s your biggest challenge in this role?

My largest challenge in this role is dealing with all the customer complaints. Non-stop you have customers asking you for this and that, compensation, refunds. I try my best to narrow down those possibilities by always having a pep talk or team huddle before we go out and work the event. I need to find better ways to motivate my team so that even though some adversities are thrown at them, they’ll know how to handle the situation and make things right for the customer.

What do you dislike about this company?

I do not really dislike anything from the company itself. I guess it’s more about some of the people I work with. At times, you catch some managers or supervisors slacking off and talking instead of doing their job. And I don’t like stepping on people’s toes, so I mainly keep quiet to myself. I still need to find a way to address my concerns the right way to my manager. I really just don’t want to go off ranting and complaining when it doesn’t really affect me, but it does affect our company and service. Otherwise, everything is really awesome here.

Would you mind taking a quick look at my resume?

[My interviewee looked at my resume and said that I have landed some solid work experiences and that I should work more on doing internships in HR manager positions and interviewing other individuals who also hold that position.]

How does my experience stack up to others applying for higher level management positions?

I would say your experience stacks up pretty well given your age. You’re what? 20? You started managing at 17. You managed a portion of our clubs on Super Bowl day and have stayed at least a year with each company you’ve worked with in the past. Not a lot of people can say that or take the initiative you did at your age. When I asked you to go out, I legit thought you were 22. Then you told me you were 18, which most definitely was a surprise to me. I say you should just keep reaching as much as you can. Don’t ever sell yourself short.

What type of personalities fit in best at your company?

Just like a personality you embody. You like to crack jokes that are appropriate. Sure we make some not safe for work, but you have a great sense of humor. I see you always trying to uplift your coworkers and how your positive spirit influences others to act the same. I would just keep doing you, just strive to be the best version of yourself. You’re a great people person.

What is the best way to get my foot in the door here?

You already got your foot in the door. Just finish school and keep up the hard work. You should always take every opportunity, even if there are risks. Life’s too short to not take chances. Like that saying goes, you miss every shot you don’t take.

Is there anyone else you think I should acquire more information from?

Like I said earlier in our conversation, it doesn’t hurt to acquire more information. The more, the better so you can make the right decisions for yourself. It’s nice to have choices and know how to achieve your plan. Just think of it this way: plan the run and run the plan.

Discussion

The information that I found interesting to me was that most of what he was saying is nearly parallel to what my father has been telling me growing up. The action of applying yourself and never selling yourself short really got to my head. I regained a new confidence to work even harder than I already am and learned that people relations are important in order to also get by in life, alongside experience and schooling.

I would like to say that the interview gave me a really positive impression in regards to my career and major. Afterwards, I also changed my AA focus towards management after finding out that my college offers the degree.

Now, I have my work cut out for me. I’m a little bit stressed out about all of the work needed to get there, but I’m sure it will be a rewarding experience.

I don’t really know if I’d do anything different. I got a lot of information that I need plus a few contacts that I can try and set up an appointment with should I choose to sit down and take on another informational interview. I think my questions were pretty solid.

Lastly, I bought my interview lunch. He’s a good friend of mine and sometimes I forget that he was even my manager.



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