Interviewing in front of a tour operator is hard! There you sit, across the table from the person who will decide your fate. Will you get that dream travel job, or will you freeze and panic after the first question? To help you feel better prepared for a hiring conference, we invited Danny from Hemisphere Travel to watch tour directors respond to real interview question! Watch our one-hour video session above, and a huge thanks to the guides who volunteered! We also polled tour operators from across the industry, and asked tour directors and guides, too, to tell us questions that they ask or have been asked. At the bottom of this post are a whole array of interview questions you can practice with.
Here are some insights we heard from Danny, and advice from others.
- Tour Operators want you to succeed. This is by far the most important bit of advice. They’re on your team when you sit
- There’s usually no “right” answer to a question, so don’t spend precious time overthinking things. Just stay positive and offer a quick, sharp response.
- The main question that a tour company is asking themselves during the interview is Do I want to put this person in front of 50 adults or students? So, show confidence and leadership, but also show that you’re a good listener. Both sides are important as a tour director: leading our group, but also listening and understanding our guests.
- Don’t drag on for too long. This may seem obvious, but Danny mentioned he’s seen someone take up the whole interview time answering one question. Keep your answers short and snappy. Get to the point. Remember when we’re nervous we have a tendency to ramble.
- The weird “gotcha” questions are meant to test how you handle being thrown a curveball. Don’t dwell for a long time on which superhero you would be, or which book you recently read. Just name a superhero, and come up with a reason why! It’s hard looking at a tour director as they smile nervously and shift their eyes to the ceiling as they spend one minute answering. As tour directors and guides we’re thrown sudden
- Lead with personality. If you’re a little on the quieter side, know that you have to turn the volume up a little big. Be a little bit more animated. Despite being nervous, don’t look too concentrated! Make sure you’re smiling and a good presence.
- Don’t monopolize the interview table if you’re in a group interview, but also don’t fade into the background.
- Practice with a friend. Use the interview wheel and question list below to get used to having a question suddenly thrown at you! Answer it with someone watching you, or have them ask you the question, to get used to looking polished and answering quickly and succinctly.
Spin the wheel to get an interview question!
We designed this wheel to be a fun way to quiz yourself on interview questions. All the questions have been asked in real interview sessions!
**Note that some questions don’t fit on a mobile phone screen. Use the list below!**
In case you’re on a mobile phone and can’t play the picker wheel above, we’ve written out all the questions here:
- You’re about pull up to a place on the coach. Get us excited about what we’re about to visit.
- Walk me through a tour of your hometown that makes me want to visit there.
- Tell me something interesting about a location on your resume.
- Tell us a unique thing you do or say that guests would enjoy and remember
- Describe the color yellow to a blind person.
- Your coach breaks down in the middle of nowhere. 5 hours until a replacement arrives. How do you keep your guests occupied/entertained?
- What was the last artistic thing you did?
- What superhero would you be…and why?
- A passenger insists on sitting in the front seat for the entire tour, because they have motion sickness. How would you address this?
- If you could go on a trip with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you pick and why?
- What is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you?
- A tour passenger is unresponsive, but you need to be somewhere in 40 minutes. What do you do?
- Give me short commentary about a topic that includes something that other tour directors might not include.
- More and more TO’s are looking for “hidden gems” in major cities. Tell me a “hidden gem” or “wow” about your hometown.
- Your coach breaks down on a tour. No cell service. What do you do?
- What was the last book you read?
- Describe an issue that you have had with a vendor while on tour and how it was resolved.
- Tell me a story that exemplifies why you do this job.
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- Where are you most comfortable leading tours in the lower 48 and why?
- Walk me through a perfect day in your favorite city in the world.
- How would you fill your ideal tour schedule over a year?
- What research/learning tools do you use to lead a tour in a city you’ve not visited before?
- What are you looking for as a TD?