How to Find The Perfect Candidate

8 March, 2016
  • 5 min read
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In the hospitality industry, finding the right staff can be quite a challenge despite the fact that there are a lot of vacancies out there. As well as the demand for temporary or permanent employees, the demand for interns is increasingly growing.

Personality of the Employee

Research shows that personality has a big influence on job satisfaction, as well as the fact that there is a positive relationship between job satisfaction and the performance of an employee. To increase the level of job satisfaction and performance, it is important to make sure that a function fits the personality of an employee. This is mainly applicable in the hospitality industry, where satisfied employees are essential in order to have satisfied guests. Other research conducted on hospitality industry recruiters further emphasises the importance of personality. The research shows that recruiters consider personality as one of the most important determinants of a candidate. Personality is an even more important determinant than knowledge or qualifications. However, little research is available that actually questions and identifies desirable personality factors.

Required Personal Qualities for a Specific Function: Difficult to Define

The match between a person(ality) and his or her work environment determines motivation and success. Knowledge about own interests, capabilities and preferences is important when making career choices. For a candidate intern, a personality assessment is of great importance to acquire this insight. That is why students of hotelschool perform a thorough personality assessment when starting the last phase of their studies when they need to choose an internship and career direction. To make sure that the level of satisfaction during the internship and the level performance of the intern are as high as possible, it is important to know what personality qualities are needed in different intern functions, and how the work environment of the function aligns with the wishes and the preferences of the intern. However, this is a difficult task: an analysis of the available management internship vacancies offered by hotels via Hotelschool The Hague, shows that the required qualities of an intern for three completely different management internships are almost the same. It looked at an F&B supervisor-intern, a sales intern, and a finance intern; all candidate interns needed to be communicative, flexible and a team-player. 

What Personality Characteristics are Desired?

Even though it is clear that a personality increases the level of performance, and thus is of importance to HR-Managers, there is some uncertainty as to what personality characters are desired in an intern. With the goal to improve the level of satisfaction and performance, as well as improving the effectiveness of the recruitment process, Hotelschool The Hague has conducted research based on the question: ‘What are the ideal personality profiles for an F&B supervisor-intern, a sales intern, and a finance intern, for management internships in the hospitality industry, according to recruiters?’

Personality Profiles

During the research, 11 HR Recruiters in hotel chains were interviewed. The interviews were made out of two sections. The ‘Usual Style’ section which focused on the question: ‘How do I want the intern to behave in this function?’, whilst the ‘Needs’ section focused on the question: ‘What does this specific internship offer, with regards to the task and work environment?’ The HR Recruiters agreed on the required personality characteristics to perform well in a certain function. These personalities are very different for the three researched intern functions. For example, a more active personality is asked of a sales intern, as well as an F&B intern, whereas a more reflective personality is asked of a finance intern. Another example is that a sales intern needs to have more of an original approach, and the finance and F&B interns should have a more conventional approach. The desired personality, as indicated by the recruiters, is, in some cases, different from the description in the offered function profiles. When we look at the finance intern, the function description asks for a flexible, communicative team player. When asking more in depth questions, the recruiter is actually looking for someone who strictly follows procedures and who can work independently. 

The Importance of Well-Defined Function Descriptions

What do these results mean? To make sure that the level of satisfaction and performance is as high as possible, it is important to have a perfect match between the qualities and the preferences of the students on one hand, and the required qualities, the offered task and work environment from the (internship) hospitality company, on the other hand. This requires personal insight from a student. It also requires well-defined function descriptions, with regards to the desired profile of a student. The HR Recruiters seem to know exactly what kind of personality they are looking for, for different functions and also for the task and work environments which they offer the interns. We don’t yet see these specifications in the function descriptions. They still contain a lot of generally formulated qualities and even conflicting qualities. This isn’t only the case in function descriptions for interns, but also in vacancy descriptions for employees.

Analysing Personality Requirements

If a personality really plays a big part in the selection of the right candidate, it is important to analyse the personality requirements thoroughly beforehand. General descriptions should be avoided. Contradictory qualities should be looked at as well, and the following questions should be asked; ‘What are the essential qualities needed to perform well in this function?’ Besides analysing the qualities of the intern or the employee, it is also important to analyse what the task and work environment actually offer the candidate. This allows the candidate to find out whether the offered task and work environment fits his or her personal preference. According to recent research, responding to the latter (the personal preferences and the offered work environment) results into getting the best candidates for the job. In short; specifying the function requirements and the task and work environment, will allow the student or future employee to consider how well the offered internship or function fits in with his or her personal preferences. This will improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the recruiting and selection process. This is the start of a perfect match, which, in case of the student, could result into employment after the internship.

About the author

Debbie Tromp

Debbie Tromp is a senior research fellow in the Chair Hospitality, Personality and Behaviour. After she obtained her Master’s degree in Research Methodology in Psychology at Leiden University, she worked as a researcher at the department Health Psychology and the department Educational Studies of that same university. Debbie received her PhD on Medical Psychology at the University Medical Center Utrecht. Since 2004 Debbie works as a lecturer in Research at Hotelschool The Hague. From 2006 till 2011 she worked as senior researcher in the Chair HRM in Hospitality conducting research into psychological contracts, work stress, work-family balance, leadership and its relation to organizational commitment and turnover.

She has published and presented her research in international hospitality journals and conferences. Since 2010 she works at HTH as a (senior) Birkman consultant, coaching students in self-insight, self-management, social awareness and career choice. Her academic research relates to the Birkman Method: “What is the personality profile of a hospitable student, a successful student, a successful hospitality manager? What are the personality requirements from the hospitality industry for their new to hire managers/leaders? What are the personal and organizational effects of an appropriate or inappropriate person-environment fit?” Next to her education and research activities, is Debbie actively involved in designing courses for the new Master’s programme.

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