In the fast-paced world of bartending, nailing that dream job can feel as complex as concocting the perfect Negroni.
Your skills, personality, and knowledge of mixology are very important, but the key to securing that position lies in the interview.
How do you outshine the competition and make a compelling impression on potential employers?
Having interviewed for countless bartending jobs and also interviewed many candidates as a bar manager, I’m well aware that the mere thought of an interview might turn your legs to jelly.
Fear not, this list of 12 bartending interview tips will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to leave your interviewer spellbound.
From demonstrating your cocktail-making expertise to showcasing your interpersonal skills, these tips are your secret recipe to success.
So, enough talk, and let’s get into it…
1. Know Your Craft
A bartender is only as good as the drinks they serve. So it’s crucial to have an in-depth understanding of various cocktails and their ingredients.
Be well-versed in classic cocktails as well as popular trends and understand the different types of liquor, wine, and beer, and how these choices affect the final product.
Know how to talk about these drinks too – describe flavors, explain processes, and articulate why you prefer certain recipes over others.
If you’ve made any signature cocktails in previous roles, be ready to talk about them, as it reflects your creativity and passion.
If you’re just starting out, don’t worry too much. This tip is more so for experienced bartenders that can demonstrate they’ve been around the block and understand the role.
However, doing some prior research beforehand on the classics will put you in good stead with the bar manager!
2. Demonstrate Customer Service Skills
Excellent customer service is at the heart of bartending. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about pouring drinks; it’s about creating a positive, memorable experience for every customer that walks through the door.
Discuss situations where you’ve handled difficult customers with grace, resolved conflicts effectively, or accommodated special requests.
This could be anything from resolving a customer dispute to offering a recommendation from the menu.
Highlight instances where you’ve gone above and beyond to enhance a customer’s experience and be sure to mention any customer service training you’ve completed.
Your aim is to show your interviewer that you prioritize customer satisfaction and are equipped to handle any challenges that come your way.
3. Be Personable
Bartending is a HIGHLY social job. A great bartender can charm their customers, create a lively atmosphere, and build regular clientele.
In your interview, be friendly, charismatic, and genuine. Let your enthusiasm for bartending shine through and share your personal anecdotes from behind the bar.
Your trying to show the hiring manager that you’re someone that customers would enjoy interacting with.
Good bartenders are excellent storytellers, so be prepared to entertain your interviewer as if they were a customer.
4. Show You Can Handle Pressure
Bars can get busy, and the ability to maintain composure in high-pressure situations is key.
Describe moments when you’ve worked efficiently under stress, managed multitasking, or handled a rush of customers without sacrificing the quality of service.
Whether this is in a previous bartending job or in another role completely, it doesn’t matter. Just be sure to highlight that you’re not going to have a meltdown when the going gets tough.
Highlight your problem-solving skills and your ability to think on your feet. Your goal is to show that no matter how packed the bar is, you can keep your cool and keep the drinks flowing.
This step is SUPER important, as Fridays and Saturdays in bars can get pretty crazy, so the hiring manager needs to know you have what it takes.
5. Research The Establishment
Every bar or restaurant has its unique vibe and clientele. Research the place you’re applying to – understand their theme, customer base, drink menu, and reputation.
Visit the establishment beforehand if you can. You don’t need to go undercover in disguise (although some do), but instead, you just want to feel out the establishment so you have a better understanding of the type of environment it creates.
Use this information to show the interviewer that you align with their brand and can cater to their specific clientele.
This demonstrates your interest in the role and your proactive approach to becoming part of their team.
6. Demonstrate Teamwork
Bartending isn’t a one-person show. It requires coordination with other bartenders, servers, and kitchen staff to ensure smooth operations.
Discuss past experiences where you’ve worked in a team-oriented environment. Highlight your communication skills, your ability to collaborate effectively, and your knack for helping to create a supportive workplace.
Don’t be afraid to emphasize that you’re a team player who can contribute to a harmonious and productive work environment.
This is exactly what bar managers want to hear as nobody likes a troublemaker or someone who may be a bad apple within their team.
7. Highlight Your Flexibility
Show your willingness and availability to work varied shifts.
If you’ve handled split shifts, late nights, or back-to-back shifts in the past, mention those.
Highlighting your flexibility will make you a more appealing candidate, as it shows your dedication and adaptability.
You don’t need to go over the top, but just mention that you aren’t phased about working weekends or bank holidays if this really is the case.
8. Ask Questions
Engaging your interviewer with thoughtful questions shows your interest in the role and your initiative.
You could inquire about the bar’s busiest times, the team dynamic, their expectations of a new hire, or their vision for the establishment’s future.
Asking such questions demonstrates your commitment to understanding the role and the establishment more thoroughly.
Whenever the bar manager asks “So, any questions?” – be sure that you have one or two lined up at the ready.
9. Be Professional
While bartending often involves a fun and social environment, it’s essential to approach the interview with professionalism.
Arrive on time, dress appropriately, and answer questions confidently.
Make sure to be respectful to everyone you interact with. The way you conduct yourself in the interview gives the employer a preview of how you’ll behave on the job.
This one is a MUST. I’ve seen far too many candidates rock up to interviews late looking like they’ve been on a two-day drinking binge.
It’s not a good look and never ends well. So scrub up, look sharp, and ace the interview with confidence.
10. Showcase Your Attention To Detail
Bartending is an art where the smallest details matter, whether it’s the right amount of ice, the garnish on a cocktail, or the cleanliness of the glasses.
During the interview, discuss how you manage these little details to ensure consistency and quality in every drink you serve.
You could share instances where your keen eye for detail has led to improved customer experiences or has helped you identify potential issues before they became problems.
11. Discuss Conflict Resolution Skills
As a bartender, you will sometimes encounter challenging situations such as difficult customers, disputes, or individuals who have had too much to drink.
Especially if you’re working in an establishment in a feisty part of town. Interviewers will want to see that you can handle these situations tactfully and responsibly.
Prepare stories/past experiences that demonstrate your ability to handle such conflicts calmly and professionally, highlighting your problem-solving skills and your understanding of relevant laws and regulations.
Hiring managers aren’t expecting you to double as a bouncer, but it’s great if you can be confident in your staff to handle sticky situations.
12. Follow-up After The Interview
After the interview, it’s good practice to send a thank-you note or email. Express your gratitude for the opportunity, reiterate your interest in the role, and perhaps touch on a memorable moment from the interview.
This gesture shows your professionalism and leaves a positive impression, keeping you fresh in the minds of your interviewers.
If you don’t hear back within a week or so, be sure to call the bar and ask for an update and any feedback from the interview.
If it didn’t quite go your way, be sure to take the feedback onboard for your next interview, and don’t give up or be disheartened.
Not everyone lands the job on their first interview and that’s OK.
So, we’ve reached the end of the list. Just remember, landing your dream bartender job isn’t just about knowing how to make great drinks.
It’s also about showing your personality, connecting with people, and making sure you stand out from the crowd during interviews.
These 12 tips I’ve shared today will help you prepare. Practice answering questions, and be ready to talk about why you LOVE bartending and are the right candidate for the role.
The most important thing is to stay positive and keep trying if it doesn’t go your way. Each interview will help you get better and more confident, just like making a new cocktail for the first time.
Good luck with your next interview. I’m rooting for you, and can’t wait to hear all about your success.
You got this.
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