Housekeepers, room attendants, maids — whatever your hotel calls these staff members, they are an integral part of your day-to-day operations.
Since the pandemic, hotels have seen just how much the guest experience can be impacted when they don’t have enough hands helping to turn over rooms. Many turned to contracted cleaners to help mitigate the ever-growing need to change the sheets, disinfect rooms, and dispose of trash. Even though this was an ingenious solution to the labor shortage, it was highly unsustainable for hotels in terms of operation costs and employee loyalty.
That’s why so many hotels are prioritizing the hiring of housekeepers right now. You need great folks on your housekeeping team to keep your hotel running smoothly and at capacity so you can keep up with rising consumer demand — especially since the busy travel season is here now — and maximize sales and revenue.
As you navigate housekeeper interviews, it’s important to make sure you’re asking the questions that will make sure you’re getting the right folks on board. We’ve put together some housekeeper interview questions to help you hire in this post-pandemic market.
8 questions to ask in a housekeeper interview
Have you worked on a housekeeping team before? How did you divide tasks?
This question is straightforward and honestly hasn’t changed much since before the pandemic, as it’s another way to gather information on previous roles and cleaning experience. Since the pandemic, it’s not necessarily important that housekeeping staff have extensive work history in the cleaning industry — just that they are willing to learn best cleaning practices and how to turn a room over according to brand standards.
The second half of this question is what is called a behavioral interview question, which gives hoteliers insight into how resilient and adaptable candidates are. In this case, your recruiters have the opportunity to learn whether the applicant is more of a leader or a follower, plus how much they’re willing to take on in their different roles.
How long should a guest room take to clean given new sanitizing protocols?
This question gives your hotel’s hiring manager insight into a few areas: whether the candidate is up-to-date on current cleaning and sanitation requirements, a rough estimate of how long they would take to clean a single room, and how detailed they are in their cleaning duties.
If the applicant hedges their answer because they don’t necessarily know what all the role entails, this is the perfect opportunity for your recruiter to give a brief overview of housekeeping duties, along with what’s changed. Again, just because the candidate is lacking previous experience doesn’t mean that they’re not the right fit for your hotel — you will need to look at other details they give to see if they’re a hard worker and willing to learn their new position.
How would you ensure special requests were met in your role?
While most special requests are fielded by front desk clerks and other members of your staff, oftentimes it’s up to the housekeepers to make sure that your hotel follows through on its promises. Whether the housekeeping staff needs to bring clean towels to the same room every day or the guests have requested turndown service, it’s up to them to give the guest the best stay possible.
This question gives you the opportunity to see how the candidate organizes important tasks and information throughout the day. You’ll learn more about how they choose to prioritize tasks and last minute additions to their workload by listening to how they work through this issue, especially if they’ve never been employed in the hospitality industry before.
How do you manage stress? Has your preferred relaxation method changed since the pandemic?
While this question is not typically seen when interviewing housekeeping staff, it’s one that should be added to your repertoire. The pandemic wreaked havoc on many people’s mental health, both during and after. Just like small talk has changed, so has what has become acceptable to talk about in the workplace. In fact, one of the major motivators for many seeking new positions is previous workplaces that were not conducive to their mental well-being.
For your hotel’s recruiters, the candidate’s answer gives you a glimpse as to how they handle themselves when they’re stressed. While it can be difficult to tell if the applicant is telling you the complete truth, there are physical and verbal tells that demonstrate if they are uncomfortable or already stressed during the interview itself, all of which can give you a clue as to how they’ll manage during the busy travel season.
Say you enter a room that a guest has recently checked out of and notice an expensive object, like a laptop, watch, or other piece of jewelry. What do you do with it?
This is a prompt that you’ve likely seen in traditional housekeeping interview guides, as it can help you determine the trustworthiness of your potential new hire.
This query gives the candidate the opportunity to elaborate on how they approach common obstacles; ideally, the candidate will use the STAR method to solve the problem. Many businesses, hotels included, like to know that their employees can think critically on their feet. Once your hiring manager has heard their answer, they have the opportunity to correct any missteps in the candidate’s approach — especially if this is someone they want to convert to a hire.
Have you used chemical cleaners previously? How comfortable are you using chemical cleaners every day?
While this is another standard question for housekeepers, it’s one that can shine a light on how familiar the candidate is with regular maintenance cleaning. Since the cleaning agents they use in your hotel are likely a little different than the ones the applicant uses at home, it’s a good idea to get a basic understanding of their knowledge of cleaning products.
The second question in this series demonstrates that your hotel puts the health of your employees first. Since the pandemic, job seekers have had the upper hand when it comes to finding employment, so this little gesture can go a long way in turning the candidate into an employee.
How would you deal with an upset guest?
This is the second question in this collection geared to determine how the candidate approaches unforeseen circumstances. Ideally, the applicant would use the STAR method to diffuse the situation by thinking critically about how the guest experience impacts not only your hotel’s bottom line, but also how their individual actions contribute to the overall success.
Can you describe a time where your cleaning services were criticized? What was your reaction?
Rounding out this list of questions is one that most job seekers do not like answering — how they handled criticism. When it comes to cleaning, there is a right and wrong way to do things and guests will certainly let you know if your facilities are up to their standards.
If you choose to collect references in your interview process, this is a great question that you can verify with previous employers and coworkers to help you gain a well-rounded view of how the candidate handled criticism in prior roles.
Hiring has changed, for better and for worse. In 2022, your housekeeping applicants are interviewing you just as much as you are. Taking the time to analyze and refresh your interview questions — especially when it comes to housekeepers — can make all the difference when it comes to converting applicants into the newest members of your hotel staff.