So you’ve got your resume. Your bartending license (if your state requires it). You’ve spent several days scouring the market for jobs, talking with managers and reaching out to friends and family. Now, it’s time for the inevitable…
PS: This is Part I of our Bartending Interview Series. To check out the entire series, click here for Part II: What to Wear to a Bartending Interview.
No question, the interview is the most critical part of the bartending hiring process. And if you make it this far, congrats! Your bartending interview is the final step of the equation. Making it this far is something to hang your hat on.
Whatever it was – your resume, a friendly recommendation, your experience, your initial point of contact – something caught the attention of the manager.
Making it to the interview phase means you made it further than the majority of the competition. So remember, take it easy from here. You’ve made it this far for a reason.
Acing the bartending interview, however, is an entirely different story. In order to successfully pass the interview phase, one must come prepared.
In the following post (part 1 of 3), we’ll discuss the ins and outs of preparing for your bartending interview. This includes scheduling, preparation, bartender interview questions, and some helpful interview mindset tips.
Bartending Interview Scheduling
The trick to scheduling the bartending interview is to make it most convenient for the manger.
Usually they are the ones to schedule the meeting. Whatever you do, you want to make sure your schedule is open to fit that time horizon.
Make it your duty to show up when they want to conduct the interview. No rescheduling! Showing up to your interview on time, and when they ask you to – even if it’s short notice – proves to managers that you actually care.
It shows that you are flexible and capable of adjusting your schedule to fit their needs. This is something all bartenders will have to deal with eventually as shift times are usually inconsistent to begin with.
In some cases, managers will ask you when you’re available for an interview. In this case, our suggestion would be to keep it simple. “Whenever it’s easiest for you” never fails as a response.
Bartending Interview Preparation
Interviews are rarely successful if there’s no preparation involved.
Sure, you may have heard stories of friends just “winging it” before they get the job offer. But these may be friends that are natural conversationalist, who can be personable and confident with their words from the jump. Not everyone’s like this.
You must come prepared. You must practice, especially if it’s your first go at it.
Once you’re in front of the manager, It’s important not to tell him or her how conversational, pleasant, or funny you can be. Instead, you want to show them.
I’ve managed a number of bars, and you would be surprised how often people attempt to do the opposite. One time, I remember interviewing an applicant who was painfully nervous but moderately experienced. He stared at the table, avoided eye contact, and played with his hands, all the while repeating again and again how great he was with people.
I don’t remember him smiling once over the entire length of the interview…
As you would have guessed, he didn’t get the job. His poor presentation didn’t correspond well with his acclaimed personality. I get it, some people don’t interview well. But his lack of confidence, expressions, and personality made me highly question his performance behind the bar.
The person I did hire to fill that spot, believe it or not, had virtually no prior work experience. But from the initial handshake, he was interesting, respectful, and even funny. Despite his inexperience, I knew he had the quench to learn more and training him seemed worth the effort.
He came off as someone who both the staff and our customers would appreciate.
So remember, when it comes down to interview, it’s not always about the skills or experience you have.
Those who ace the interview are cool, calm, collective… and naturally themselves. Be casual and personable and don’t come unprepared!
Bartender Interview Questions
A common interview preparation routine would be to think of the questions that managers may ask ahead of time…
Not all interviews are alike. Some managers may ask personal questions like about your strengths and weaknesses, while others will stick strictly with bartending expertise questions. Either way, you should think about how you will answer these types of questions ahead of time.
Where are you going to find these questions to begin with? It’s easy – the internet! The world wide web contains many tools and resources around this phase of the hiring process
After a simple google search like “bartending interview questions”, you’ll be met with blogs, Youtube videos, and an endless amount of other helpful resources. You have no excuse. Batches of bartending interview questions, along with information on how to answer them, are at your fingertips.
Below we provided a few generic bartending questions worth highlighting. Study up. And again, think about the different ways you can answer these. This way, you won’t be stumped as managers run you through their questionnaire…
Bartending Interview Question Examples:
- What responsibilities do you think bartending involves?
- Do you have previous experience working as a bartender… or in the hospitality industry in general?
- Do you have the flexibility to work evenings and weekends?
- How would you react if you think a person is underaged and using a fake ID?
- Have you completed any bartender training?
- What’s your favorite drink to make?
- What do you enjoy about bartending?
- How would you react if you think a person is underaged, or under-the-influence (drunk)?
- What are the ingredients for drink XZY?
Secondly, it’s equally important to think of questions you have for managers as well
Interviews are never a one way street.
Clapping back, when appropriate, with relatable questions shows that you are interested in learning more about the gig. Be curious. Learn about the history of the bar. Learn about the bar demographics.
The more you understand about the establishment, the more suited you’ll be for the job. You’ll be surprised how often managers like to talk about the work environment.
Asking questions on your behalf also shapes the interview into more of a conversation. This is a bit more comforting than someone just drilling you with questions.
Bartending Interview Questions To Ask:
- What are the bars most popular drinks?
- What days are your busiest?
- Can you tell me a little more about the bars’ demographics?
- How long have you guys been around?
- Does the bar host any special events? (trivia nights, live music nights, etc.)
- Let’s say if I do get the job, what else can I do to be prepared? Are there any study materials, books, or online resources you suggest I take a look at?
These are questions that will help reassure your confidence in working there in the first place. And don’t be afraid to take notes either!
PS: To read Part II of our Bartending Interview Series: What To Wear To The Interview, just click here.
Bartender Interview Skill Test
Lastly, some interviews won’t only be question based. In addition the generic interview questions, some bar managers may bring you behind the bar.
They want to see your skills firsthand.
They want to see what you got.
In this case, they’ll ask for you to make some drinks. They may study your technique, and how you utilize the bar tools you have in front of you. If it’s your first time bartending, don’t get nervous – it’s always important to be upfront and honest with the managers. Let them know ahead of time that you are a beginner. And instead of testing you on how well you can make a drink, they may teach you a few tricks and see if you’re capable of learning quickly.
As your prepare for your bartending interview, it’s in your best interest to practice crafting drinks at home beforehand.
Study some basic drink recipes. Utilize YouTube videos. Concoct drink recipes that you’re unfamiliar with. Simply put, practice makes perfect. And if you take a little effort to study recipes and practice at home, you’ll be able to impress a manager right off the bat.