First impressions are crucial in the hospitality industry and other businesses in general. The story goes that hotelier Isadore Sharp interviewed some candidates for jobs at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. The Canadian businessman, and founder, chairman and chief executive of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts allocated one minute per candidate for the interviews. When asked what his selection criteria was and how he could possibly assess a person in one minute, Mr Sharp said the candidate had only to create a strong first impression. 'That first impression is so important in our industry,' said James Lu, executive director of the Hong Kong Hotels Association. 'When you're dealing with a guest you have very little time to create a good first impression. 'They have to respond to you and feel that you're welcoming them. If you have that kind of chemistry it creates a positive impact.' Such chemistry comes easily to those with a natural talent for interpersonal skills. According to Lee Kam-hon, professor of marketing and director of the Chinese University's school of hotel and tourism management, these skills are vital in the hospitality industry. Interpersonal skills do not just apply to the hospitality industry. Maintaining a good relationship and building rapport with superiors and subordinates at work, customers and suppliers is just as important as making a good first impression on hotel guests. These skills include the ability to set priorities, to reflect on one's own conduct and to develop self-discipline. According to Kaye Chon Kye-sung, chair professor of hotel and tourism management and director of the school of hotel and tourism management at Polytechnic University, these are skills for self-management. 'Intrapersonal skills mean having the ability to command one's emotions. 'We are trying to instil all these skills into our students' development in several ways,' Professor Chon said. 'Every student has to complete an integrated education, like an internship, for a minimum of 20 weeks during their course. We try to provide ample opportunities for our students to interact with external stakeholders including industry professionals.' The school's 'Professor for a Day' programme is one example of such an opportunity. Industry experts are invited to the university and treated as a professor would be for one day. They share their knowledge with students while providing them with opportunities to interact and learn from the professionals. 'These are important skills we're teaching,' Professor Chon said. 'But, at the same time, we're providing opportunities for students to conduct group projects and case study projects where they are developing the skills to think outside the box, to take calculated risks, to be innovative and be able to handle their own situations.' Professor Lee said such interpersonal and intrapersonal skills would remain relevant as the industry became more focused on superior service. 'Superior service defines an outstanding institution. Superior service comes from a person. 'If a person has a firm grasp of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, he or she is going to deliver superior service and [help to better] others and themselves,' he said.