An exploratory study of the preferred qualities of managerial hospitality candidates in New Zealand’s four and five-star hotels
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The number of students majoring in hospitality management has increased sharply in the past few decades, along with the rapid development of the hospitality industry in New Zealand. Most hospitality graduates aspiring to reach management level soon after graduation quickly realise they are disadvantaged in competing for managerial positions against staff without degrees who have more industry experience. Previous studies have explored what the hospitality industry expects from hospitality graduates. However, a particular perspective looking into what four- and five-star hotels in New Zealand expect from hospitality candidates, especially from those looking for management positions, is missing. This study was therefore conducted to identify the requirements for entry-level, middle-level, and senior-level management employees in New Zealand’s four- and five-star hotels. Data were collected from 125 job advertisements for managerial hospitality candidates in New Zealand’s four- and five-star hotels from 1 June 2017 to 31 July 2017. The findings reveal five main categories of requirements for managerial candidates, including soft skills, hard skills, educational qualifications, years of experience, and supplementary certificates. Soft skills (such as communication skills, leadership, or flexibility with rosters) are the most valued dimensions for prospective managers, although the specific requirements for soft skills differ according to management levels. Managerial hospitality candidates also need a good command of hard skills, which are also important and valued. The degree of requirement for hard skills increases with management level. Although the requirements for candidates’ educational qualifications in New Zealand’s hotels are not high generally, taking a degree in hospitality management still increases the possibility of being hired when competing against rivals with other majors. Years of working experience is an objective standard in this industry, because higher management positions require more years of experience in general. Additionally, it is advantageous or even necessary for managerial hospitality candidates to have obtained NZ driving licences, LCQ certificates, and first aid certificates when applying for management roles. This study successfully filled a knowledge gap in the literature relating to the specific requirements for entry-level, middle-level, and senior-level management employees in New Zealand’s four- and five-star hotels. Additionally, the findings of this study provide practical implications for hospitality education providers and hospitality students, allowing them to understand what students need to be equipped with to be successful in management roles in the hospitality industry.