How to succeed in a graduate travel and tourism interview

To succeed in a travel and tourism interview you’ll need to demonstrate a love for travel, customer-service skills, commercial awareness and the ability to work under pressure – such as dealing with angry customers.

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How should I prepare for a travel and tourism interview?

Make sure you complete all the must-dos:

  • Research the employer – use its website, news sources and social media.
  • Think about the job description – how do you match its requirements and how can you prove this?
  • Think of some potential questions you might be asked.
  • Prepare your own questions to ask.
  • Check the timings so you’re not late for the interview.
  • Dress to impress.

How should I answer tourism interview questions?

What you say in a travel and tourism interview, in part, depends on the job you’ve applied to.

Expect more questions on sales and customer care for posts which require dealing with bookings. And for positions with more managerial responsibilities, expect to be questioned on client relationships and team management.

Familiarising yourself with the job description and/or person specification will help you to get an idea of the questions which will come your way.

Building rapport goes a long way in this industry, so when answering travel and tourism interview questions it’s important to be yourself. Recruiters will want to know who you are and not who you might pretend to be.

Key interview questions for travel and tourism jobs are:

  • Why you want to work in the travel and tourism sector?
  • How will you satisfy customers’ requirements?
  • How would you deal with an angry customer?

Why do you want to work in the travel and tourism sector?

People commonly describe the travel and tourism industry in the follow ways. Think about which of these chime with your beliefs:

  • ‘I get to travel.’
  • ‘It’s a very active role.’
  • ‘It’s a fast-moving market.’
  • It’s a job with responsibility.’
  • ‘I like the variety of skills it draws upon: customer care, sales, events, marketing, planning, finance, entertainment, information providing, culture and history.’
  • ‘I’ll get to work with a variety of interesting people: tour guides, hoteliers, restaurant owners, artists, divers, heads of transport.’
  • ‘It’s a hands-on profession with lots of opportunity to learn on the job by being at the centre of the action.’
  • ‘It’s a profession in which you can make a real difference helping people enjoy their free time.’
  • ‘You get to help customers and find out more about the world.’

The basis of a good answer would be to focus upon one or two of these statements and expand upon them. For instance, why would you find working with the variety of people so motivating? Would watching them use their skills be a fulfilling experience? Would working within a network of people to create a good customer experience make you feel proud?

Which of your traits and skills do the job’s tasks draw upon – people skills, forward thinking, patience, ability to work under pressure? When have you demonstrated these skills before?

Of course, there is an overlap between ‘Why do you want to work in travel and tourism’ and ‘Why did you apply for this job?’ , which itself is a way of asking, ‘Why do you want to work for us?’ You’ll need to tie any of your general observations back to the work of the hiring organisation, outlining why you’re a match for the job.

You have to plan a tour. How will you ensure that it satisfies the customer’s requirements?

This question tests a number of things:

  • What do you know about the industry – what are the elements of a tour? What are the things you have to get right in terms of the content of the tour and its presentation ? Is it:
    • Value for money.
    • Meeting expectations (or surpassing them).
    • Food.
    • Accommodation.
    • Service – and what is this: a smile for the customer? Righting wrongs promptly?
    • Communication.
    • Uniqueness.
    • Variety?
    • The list could get very long…
  • Your ability to formulate a strategy for customer care . How do you know, in advance, what the customer requirements are? And how do you measure satisfaction?
  • Your awareness of who else is involved in ensuring the tour is a success – hoteliers, restaurant owners, transport firms, owners of local attractions and entertainers.
  • The skills you need to demonstrate to put the plan into action : communication, commercial awareness, customer care, organisation/time management and project management.

It’s such a broad question that you might get lost trying to answer all its possible aspects. Instead, it might be better to say something like:

‘This is a huge area that covers everything from researching the customer’s needs to buying in great service at the right price. But if I can focus on one of the main requirements of customer satisfaction, and what I would do then it is…’

Whatever you choose to talk about (your ability to book the right restaurant, your cultural knowledge) if you can, explain how you’ve used that ability in the past. When giving evidence of your skills in action, don’t forget to explain things using the STAR method:

  • Situation – the background to the task.
  • Task – what you needed to do.
  • Action – the steps you took.
  • Result – how were you successful?

How would you deal with an angry customer?

The Customer satisfaction in the travel and tourism industry is king, queen and all the major and minor monarchs possible. Because of this you’re likely to be asked, ‘How would you deal with an angry customer?’

To prepare, it’s certainly worth thinking about your own approach to turning someone’s bad experience into a good one. It’s also worth doing some online research into dealing with angry customers. But also, before the day of the interview, speak with anyone you know in work about how such situations are handled - in any workplace in any industry.

The techniques of defusing tension and using the problem as a chance to re-establish the best possible customer care transfer from profession to profession. Now think about how you may have had to use tact and diplomacy with someone who rubbed you the wrong way.

In your answer you might want to reflect upon the following:

  • Often, when people are angry you have to listen to the anger initially without comment. Otherwise, the angry person may think you don’t care and that you’re part of the problem.
  • Once the customer has expressed dissatisfaction, it might be helpful to summarise what they’ve said. It can show you’ve listened to them. But you’ll need to be the judge of whether doing so helps or hinders. If you do summarise, include only those points which are factually beyond dispute and for which there is a possibility of remedy or, if appropriate, recompense.

You wouldn’t reiterate the customer’s negative sentiment. Instead, it’s better to empathise with them to show that you’re listening to their concern. This is a tried and tested tactic to allow the customer to let off steam. And this approach may be enough for that customer to feel satisfied enough to return in the future.

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