Any management candidate will tell you that the skill set needed to land a five figure job has changed in the last decade. Even entry level support management positions have changed.  Twenty years ago managers did paperwork, and made sure quotas were met.

The hospitality industry has seen the greatest evolution of the manager. The biggest change has been in the emergence of Soft Skills as a dominant fixture on every resume. The importance of soft skills has thrown many professional managers out of good paying jobs, and kept many university graduates from landing a job.

The fact is – no one knows what today’s hiring managers and interviewers want when you shake hands with the job interviewer. There is no ‘set’ of soft skills that can guarantee you a job. There is no ‘one’ type of communication style or coaching held by the top candidates.

There is a saying ‘Good enough is good enough.’

This isn’t true if you are looking for a manager’s job. In my experience this is most relevant for restaurant manager candidates. Many candidates come up through the ranks and feel that what they have always done is ‘good enough’.

Here is a short list of some of the soft skills that are needed in the hospitality industry and what those soft skills look like in the job interview. Management Candidates go into the job interview feeling that what they consider the ‘right’ answer, or the right way they behave or translate body language is the only right way.

This attitude can cost a good job. This is why career coaches tell candidates to network. Associate with people who have the job you want. Learn to ‘walk the walk, and talk the talk.’

Leadership Skills

This can be the biggest pitfall in most job interviews is trying to show your leadership skills in a 15 minute interview.  There are articles around the internet, and even some job coaches, have ample suggestions on body language, how you dress, and communicate. The problem is, they are wrong.

If you are going to ‘become’ the perfect ‘power’ manager then you need to start being coached six months before looking for a new job. You need to start saving up for the wardrobe. Yes, wearing red and looking taller may help in a job interview, but not if you are wearing a ‘non’ boutique blows, or your posture doesn’t match the 2” lifts in your shoes.

True leadership is an evolving skill. Today’s manager needs to understand how to lead without formal authority. Leadership with collaboration. Leadership as a relationship building skill.

Strategic Thinking – Active Listening

Some of the most important soft skills are not talked about in the short courses, or even in University because they cannot be taught. There are dozens of courses on active listening or strategic thinking, but the skills cannot be learned. These skills are developed with practice and patience.

This is one of the easiest soft skills to test for in a job interview. But active listening isn’t necessarily effective listening. Managers need to take a step deeper into the subject to understand the full meaning of the terms. Again, it becomes very obvious to a job interviewer who has spent their entire career honing their skills, and who started ‘cramming’ when they realized they would soon be looking for a new job.

Critical thinking is one of the hardest skills to learn, which makes it one of the most marketable skills. Strategic thinking may be compared to thinking three dimensionally.


Good communication skills. The ability to communicate with confidence. Communicating in a way that influences others. Being able to talk in complete sentences. All of these skills are easy to learn,  but are all the communication skills are useless if you do not know how to project yourself confidently.  

It amazes me how many people never record themselves when talking. I have recorded people talking and played back their conversation. About 2/3 of them don’t recognize their voice, and most of them are upset when they realize how they sound.

Confidence communication is more than the words you say. It includes cadence, tone, breathing, and pauses. When I took vocalization courses I learned how to breath deep, speak from the chest, keep my voice steady, and to learn that the pauses were as important as the message.

Most of our language is body language. Learning the skill of using strong, confident, body language will feel awkward at first, and it takes a lot of practice. You may feel uncomfortable. When a management candidate enters a job interview and tries to ‘act the part’ it is very obvious. There is a major disjoint between their body language, and their verbal communication.

Habits –

Don’t ignore telling the job interviewer what your daily habits are. What do you do to create a productive, pleasant workplace? Some of the questions you are asked may be best answered by explaining how your daily routine improves time management, reduces the chances of missing deadlines, and increases productivity.

How do you relieve stress? How do you keep healthy? What ‘self care’ do you employ to help stress management?

Each of these ‘Soft Skills’ will help you pass to the next hiring level. If you are not looking for a job then it is time to start learning and practicing so these skills become part of who you are as a manager.

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