How Empathy Can Land You a Great Job

During your hospitality job interview, you want to create a personal connection with the hiring manager, not just recite facts and give rehearsed answers. Companies are looking for people who are easy to work with, approachable and connect well with others on their team.

So, what is empathy?  According to the American Medical Association, it’s defined as the “capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, and to have an accurate understanding of another person’s feelings.”  Once you “put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes,” you can answer the questions from his point of view. It also demonstrates how well you’ll relate to and connect with others you work with. You’re showing the manager that you can build authentic relationships.

Also, when you can demonstrate a good sense of empathy, you’re showing that you respect others and are willing to hear what they have to say. Active listening is critical to problem-solving and allows guests and team members to feel “heard.” If possible, share a personal experience that relates to your current discussion to create a more conversational tone to your interview.

When you make others feel heard and respected, you’re showing you’re a strong team-player and a leader. It brings out the best in those around you and employers want to know that you value that attitude and make it a priority.  Sharing a story about how you made an impact in your past with an empathetic approach can be more powerful than facts and statistics in securing the job.

You certainly need the required hard skills and experience listed in the job posting, but what can really make you stand out from the crowd is the ability to think from the perspective of your guests and provide exceptional customer service. The top team members are often those who can understand the root of a problem, think on their feet and have a sense what the customer needs in order to provide them the best possible experience. Empathy enables them to see from the other person’s perspective and find a solution that works for everyone.

During the interview, show that you understand how your new role will contribute to the company’s success. Can you explain how your day-to-day tasks will fit in with the company’s goals? You need to be able to understand the bigger picture and not just recite the job listing’s requirements.

Empathy also motivates you to help guests, even those that are difficult. When you can see where the other person is coming from, you’re more likely to be proactive in helping them, instead of waiting for a problem to escalate into something bigger. Again, a big plus in the customer service industry.

It also creates a more positive work environment. When you can get along easily with all types of people, there’s less conflict and more cooperation. A lot of problems can be averted by communicating openly and being empathetic to them.

Hiring managers are aware of all the benefits of hiring a candidate who not only has the hard skills, but can relate to others and be a positive force on the team. In fact, “empathy interviews” are becoming more common where specific questions are asked to determine how you react in certain situations. Asking “show me” or “walk me through” questions can give the interviewer insight into how you solved a problem or met a recent challenge at work. Empathy interviews are about having an authentic conversation that reveals choices you’ve made, motivations and your ability to relate to others.

In your interview, be sure to show your “real self” and don’t let nerves keep you from highlighting your best assets. Try not to answer with what you think the interviewer wants to hear, but give honest answers that demonstrate genuine empathy.