Egi Gaisie, a Hotel Educator/Trainer, talks with Kodjo Hazel a former Human Resource Manager of Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra and Alisa Hotel, Accra respectively. He is currently a Human Resource Consultant in the hotel industry.
This session focuses on the mentality of people towards hotel jobs and towards working in the hotel industry in Ghana.
The discussion led me to various other areas of concern which has been lingering in the industry for far too long and which I intend to address at the appropriate time on this platform. Welcome.
Question: You must have interviewed hundreds of applicants and handled several more application letters over the years as a Human Resource Manager. How would you describe the general attitude of people wanting to work in the hotel industry?
Response: Most new entrants perceive hotel work as basic household daily chores. Thus most applications lack the requisite professional contents for specialized and critical positions. An applicant who has practiced cooking at home feels highly qualified to be employed as a cook in a modern hotel kitchen. This runs through for most of the departments.
Follow up: Are you suggesting there is a general lack of understanding among applicants as to what qualifications are expected of them? Vacancy announcements I have seen have specific and detailed job requirements.
Response: Yes but even when job adverts are well laid out, applicants look at the positions as what they merely do in their respective homes; as in cooking, cleaning rooms or serving food. Often there are pressures from hotel owners and other stakeholders to just place ‘their people’ irrespective of their qualifications.
Question: How well do applicants know the industry they wish to work in?
Response: Most applicants come in very naïve about the activities/workings of the industry. One of the major contributory factors to high turnovers is the abject lack of the workings of the hotel industry.
Follow up: Kindly explain further what you mean..”the abject lack of the workings of the hotel industry.”
Response: They liken hotel jobs to basic household jobs done in the homes.
Follow-up: Considering all that you have said what kind of orientation is given to those who are employed?
Response: I normally give a three day orientation to the newly employed.
Follow-up: What is the content of such an orientation?
Response: There is a general orientation of the hotel industry, a departmental orientation, a physical tour of the hotel and a session for ‘Questions and Answers’ with all the department heads sitting in. When the newly employed go to their respective departments their departmental heads are expected to conduct on-the-job training. This is where commitment to training is slack.
Question: Outside this country, ‘leads’ such as handshakes, smiles, eye contact have been used to determine whom to shortlist for an interview. In Ghana, what peculiar ‘leads’ guide you to shortlist applicants?
Response: The prevailing culture in the industry is universal. Criteria for selection may, therefore, not be segmented, notwithstanding the fact that a few local standards may be counted during selection. Some of these criteria are also regulated by statutes.
Follow-up: I am not sure I understand what you mean.
Response: First of all, I like to refer to these ‘leads’ as standards. In the hotel industry the culture is the same irrespective of where your hotel is located. So we need to apply international standards; eye contact, positive engagement, smile etc There may be slight variations such as the addition of local flavors e.g. in Japan, bowing rather than shaking of hands. Eye contacts, smiles, mentioning guests’ names, handshakes, etc. are basic ingredients for creating the desired experiences for customers who may have everything that the hotel has but these. In Ghana, if an employee gestures a bow to a Japanese guest, it makes him/her feel at home. But these are little touches the employee should pick up through self development.
Question: Generally, how prepared do you find individuals who are attending an interview? I am making reference to operational personnel (personnel below supervisory status).
Response: Candidates appearing at interviews are mostly ill-prepared even at the higher supervisory and managerial levels.
Follow-up: So perhaps we would devote a session on this, I mean supervisory and management level personnel.
Question: Service cannot be forced out of people. Yet we see people working in specific hotels pushing for their relatives to be employed. What are your views?
Response: This practice is highly unacceptable. In most of the private hotels Ghana, it is commonplace to find the owners populate some or all the departments with close relations believing that they can act as “moles” to protect and safeguard their intended profits. Practical evidence, on the contrary, points to a situation where such nepotistic practices have led to huge losses of revenue through plain and undercover sabotage.
Professionalism, experience and performance should dictate the selection of persons into the industry.
Question: What advice would you give to students going to their first job interview in a hotel?
- Professional knowledge and practical skills
- All-round knowledge of the job-specification bordering the position advertised
- An in-depth research into the corporate vision, mission and the core values of the industry
- The extent to which the candidate can impact the position and the hotel within a period of time
- Presentation on how the candidate intends to chart a growth-path in the Hotel within the space of time
Thank you for this session.