It’s not shocking to say that Marriott is a big company — in fact, that might even be an understatement. Huge might be the better word for it, with more than 350,000 employees (or associates, as we call them!) located in 138 countries and territories around the world. Mammoth is another good option.
Any company of that size is not only hiring for a lot of different positions (search our open roles here!), but also interviewing a slew of different people across experience levels and job functions daily. So, how can a candidate stand out in the interview process, and show they’re a good fit for Marriott?
“The best way to do that is to make sure you understand the culture,” recommends Dave Martin, Marriott’s Director of Global Executive Talent Acquisition. Dave is a part of Marriott’s Executive Recruiting team, which is responsible for hiring General Managers, leaders in Global Finance and Legal, executives in Sales and Marketing, and many more highly visible roles.
“This is a culture that thrives on collaboration. We want our people to get results, but what is most important is how they were able to get to the results,” says Dave, who’s been with Marriott for seven years. “Be able to discuss your journey of success and how you were able to arrive at positive results. This is a ‘We’ culture and not an ‘I’ culture.”
In addition to focusing on what you say in interviews, Senior Director of Global Executive Talent Acquisition Swati Singh advises that non-verbal communication and good ol’ fashioned manners are just as important.
“Be on time, make sure the technology works and always be respectful of the time that the company has invested in the process,” says Swati, who joined Marriott’s Executive Recruiting team in 2022. “In a group interview (in person or virtual), address everyone on the team, and not just one person, by their name and with the right pronunciation.”
In a typical year, Swati and Dave’s team conducts a whopping 850+ interviews for open roles at Marriott. Knowing that, we had to pick their brains on all things interview etiquette and tips. And while their expertise is in Executive hires, their words of interview wisdom are applicable for all levels.
Whether you’re applying for your first hotel job, planning a major career pivot, or just brushing up on some best practices, if you’re asking yourself, “how do I prepare for a Marriott interview?” — you’ll want to bookmark this advice.
1. Do your research and optimize your interview space.
Question: What should jobseekers do to ensure their interviews go as smoothly as possible?
Swati: Beyond asking about the interview materials, methodology and process, learn about the backstory — why is the role open, what is the team like, what does success look like. Obtain pertinent information regarding culture and interview styles for individual and panel interviewers. Prepare in advance and prepare well!
Dave: In the year 2023, make sure you’re video friendly. Have the lighting and the camera prepped, and always take down the call-in number if technology fails. Either print out the job description and resume or have them up on your screen so you can access them. Find a quiet place to take the interview, and always confirm the time and date with the recruiter.
2. Be thoughtful, curious and considerate… but mixed reviews on thank you notes.
Question: What should candidates do to ensure they are remembered positively by company representatives?
Swati: Show up on time, do not appear transactional, use the time wisely. If given the opportunity, give a crisp (and practiced!) introduction that highlights key career transitions. Prepare thoughtful and curious questions about the role and the business. I personally do not expect thank you notes post the interview; I believe that depends on the individual’s preference.
Dave: Thank you notes. It’s not that complicated. Always send an emailed thank you note within 24 hours of the end of the interview. It does not have to be several paragraphs; you just need to make sure you let the interviewer know you are grateful for their time and that you are interested in any potential next steps.
3. Show your enthusiasm with preparedness.
Question: How can a candidate demonstrate their interest and enthusiasm for the role?
Swati: For Executive level roles, it is about being well prepared, reading up on the business and tying up experiences and expertise with the opportunity. Read up on the interviewers, company, business and challenges specific to the role is key. Avoid asking obvious or superficial questions that can be answered by visiting a website or reading a press release.
Dave: Be prepared to answer the question: Why Marriott and why this role? This is it. Do your homework. Our annual report is a public record. Zero in on what Tony (our CEO) has to say. You can access our annual report online and there is so much good information at the beginning of the report. When it comes to the role specifically, share why you want to learn something new or why you are excited to further enhance your experience in this position.
4. Use your questions strategically.
Question: What kinds of questions should candidates be asking the company?
Swati: For executive roles, ask about P&L, budgets, team composition, mandate. Some examples:
- Are you going to be responsible for maintaining, growth or transformation?
- Who are the key stakeholders outside of the immediate team?
- Who would be responsible for success in the role, and key success metrics?
For most candidates, middle management or below, ask:
- What is the biggest challenge and growth opportunity for the business?
- Why are you hiring for this role?
- What does success look like?
- Who was the last person in this role, why did they leave?
- What kind of a person would thrive in this culture and role?
- What are the professional opportunities and runway for growth in this role?
- Who would the candidate be interacting with in this role outside of the immediate team?
Dave: I always recommend candidates ask questions about either one of three things:
- The company
- The role
- The interviewer
It’s a simple formula for success. Why? The interviewer is a subject matter expert about all three things. Don’t try and stump an interviewer, but these can be hard questions and the topics should be important to you. If culture is important, then ask that. If advancement is important, then ask that. Just make sure you frame it in a way that allows the interviewer to share their experience.
5. Conquer anxiety with confidence and your experience.
Question: What tips do you have for overcoming interview anxiety?
Swati: Really practice and time your answers. Some people like to practice before a mirror, some people like to record their voice. Study the job description, prepare key competency areas, and make a list of as many unique questions you can be asked and prepare answers to those. If any new questions come up during the interview, detailed practice will help you pivot and think on your feet. For virtual interviews, sometimes keeping a small physical note with key words or points that helps the candidate feel confident could be helpful as well, but just make sure you’re not reading off your notes directly.
Dave: First, if you are being interviewed, remember that you have just enough skill sets to be considered for the role and not everyone gets interviewed. Second, this is all very normal, and as a recruiter I would rather a candidate be a little nervous than be overconfident. Lastly, you know you better than anyone else. You know what your experience is and that is all we (the interviewers) want to hear. We do not want to hear what you would do, but rather lean in with your experience — that has been an amazing nugget I was told many years ago.