Hospitality Quotient 6 Traits According to Danny Meyer

If skills were all it took be a great service-industry employee, the hiring process would be easy. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than just ability to do a job well.

In his keynote at Snagajob’s recent HourMinds conference, restaurateur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group Danny Meyer — the man behind legendary brands like Shake Shack, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern and more — shared his secrets on how other restaurant, retail and hospitality brands can hire great-fit employees who will help drive scalable, long-term business growth.


What is Hospitality Quotient?

To make sure he’s hiring the best candidates possible, Meyer looks for candidates who have a high Hospitality Quotient, or HQ. It’s the “secret sauce” Meyer has unlocked after 30+ years on the restaurant and hospitality frontlines. Candidates with a high Hospitality Quotient are happiest when their energy is spent making other people feel better.


“When you hire someone with a high HQ, and you combine that with the skill to do their job really well … it just doesn’t get any better.”


And those are exactly the kind of people you want representing your brand and on the frontlines with your customers.


What determines an employee’s hospitality quotient?  

According to Meyer, it comes down to these six personality traits.

Kindness & Optimism

“I want to work with people I like, and I want to work with people who bring a sense of hope to their work,” Meyer explains. The positivity coming from kind and optimistic employees is an important part of a great work environment. Skeptical employees don’t help a company thrive.


Intellectual Curiosity

The intellectually curious are “constantly looking at every day as an opportunity to learn something they didn’t know before.” If your employees think they know it all, that leaves little room for improvement and growth.


Work Ethic

“We can all teach anybody how to do the technical parts of their job, but we cannot teach anybody how to care about doing that job as well as it can possibly be done.” Having employees that are not only skilled but also eager to put time and effort into what they do can make all the difference.



An empathetic employee cares how he or she makes others feel. Whether with a customer or with fellow employee, being able to resonate and connect with others is a powerful skill.



Meyer sees self-awareness as a sort of personal weather report. Every individual has a different report each day; one day it’s 70 degrees with clear blue skies and the next could be 30 degrees and stormy.

Employees who are self aware may be having a stormy day but they’re able to put it behind them when they’re at work and don’t take it out on their coworkers or your customers.



For Meyer, integrity is “the emotional skill of having the judgment to do the right thing, even when no one is looking, and even when it’s not in your self-interest.” An employee with high integrity is someone an employer can trust and rely upon.


How to find candidates with high Hospitality Quotient

By hiring candidates with the highest Hospitality Quotient potential — and then helping them continually hone those six key behaviors once they’re onboard — your business can see significant bottom-line impacts, by way of higher employee retention, customer satisfaction and revenue-per-employee.

But since these six key HQ traits are part of someone’s innate personality makeup, they can’t be taught. They may be honed and refined over time, but candidates can’t pick up intellectual curiosity like they would a new skill or technique.


This is why identifying those who DO have high hospitality quotient potential in their DNA — BEFORE you invest a lot of time and money into hiring and training them — is so important.


So how DO you find high HQ candidates? We combined Danny Meyer’s insights with Snagajob’s expertise in the hourly employee hiring space to bring you 3 quick tips on how to find candidates with a high Hospitality Quotient