How To Hire GREAT Bartenders [8 Pro Tips]

how to hire bartenders
Joe | Last Updated: November 21, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

As a seasoned bartender and now bar manager, I’ve hired my fair share of bartenders over the years and learned firsthand the importance of hiring great talent.

A great bartender can make or break a bar’s reputation, and can significantly impact the customer experience.

But finding the right bartenders for your establishment can be a challenge, that’s why in this post I’ll share eight pro tips for hiring great bartenders that I’ve used to hire some of the best in the industry.

Let’s take a look…

8 Pro Tips For Hiring Bartenders

When it comes to hiring great bartenders, there are a few tips that I have found to be particularly effective.

These tips will help you find the right person for the job, and ensure that your bar is staffed with talented and skilled professionals that know their way around a cocktail.

1. Look for experience

One of the most important things to look for when hiring a bartender is experience.

Look for candidates who have worked in a bar or restaurant before, and who have a good understanding of the industry.

Experienced bartenders will be able to handle busy nights, deal with difficult customers, and create exceptional drinks that your customers love.

2. Check references

Always check references before hiring a bartender.

This will give you an idea of the candidate’s work history and will help you determine if they are a good fit for your bar.

Call previous employers and ask about the candidate’s work ethic, reliability, and customer service skills.

3. Conduct a skills test

Consider conducting a skills test during the hiring process.

This will allow you to see the candidate in action and will give you a better idea of their bartending skills.

Ask them to make a few different drinks, and observe how they interact with customers.

4. Look for personality

Personality is an important factor when it comes to hiring a bartender.

female bartender serving customers
Photo by ELEVATE

Look for candidates who are outgoing, friendly, and personable. These traits will help them connect with customers and create a welcoming atmosphere in your bar.

5. Consider availability

Make sure to consider the candidate’s availability before hiring them.

Look for candidates who are willing to work flexible hours, including nights and weekends.

This will ensure that your bar is staffed during busy times.

6. Provide training

Even experienced bartenders may need some training when they start working at your bar.

Consider providing training on your bar’s specific procedures, as well as any new drinks or menu items.

7. Offer competitive pay

Offering competitive pay is important when it comes to attracting and retaining great bartenders.

Make sure to research the average pay for bartenders in your area, and offer a competitive salary and benefits package.

The best bartenders won’t be attracted to a measly paycheck, so pay well and attract only the best.

8. Trust your instincts

Finally, trust your instincts when it comes to hiring a bartender.

If a candidate seems like a good fit for your bar, go with your gut and hire them.

Sourcing Potential Candidates

When it comes to hiring great bartenders, sourcing potential candidates is a very important step.

Here are some tips on where to look for the best talent:

Job Posting Platforms

Online job posting platforms such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and Craigslist are great places to start when looking for potential candidates.

These platforms allow you to post job openings and receive resumes from interested candidates.

Be sure to include a detailed job description and requirements to attract the right candidates.

Bartending Schools

Bartending schools are another great source for potential candidates.

These schools train aspiring bartenders and often have job placement programs to help them find employment.

Reach out to local bartending schools and ask if they have any graduates who are looking for work.

I’ve found some of my best bartenders through this method, it’s quick, easy, and very effective as most graduates are looking for a head start in the industry.

Networking Events

Networking events are a great opportunity to meet potential candidates in person.

Attend industry events, such as trade shows and conferences, and network with other bartenders and industry professionals.

You can also host your own networking events, such as mixology classes or tastings, to attract potential candidates.

Conducting Effective Interviews

As a bar owner or manager, conducting effective interviews is crucial in finding the right bartender for your establishment.

Here are some tips I’ve used on how to conduct successful interviews:


Before conducting an interview, it’s important to prepare a set of questions that will help you determine whether the candidate is a good fit for the job.

Review the candidate’s resume and cover letter to get a better understanding of their skills and experience.

This will help you tailor your questions to the candidate’s background.

Questioning Techniques

During the interview, it’s important to ask open-ended questions that allow the candidate to provide detailed responses.

bartender making drink behind the bar
Photo by MorNa Tang

Avoid asking yes or no questions as they don’t provide much information and instead ask questions that relate to the candidate’s previous experience, such as “Can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer?”

This will help you understand how the candidate handles challenging situations and assess whether they are suited to your bar.

Assessing Personality Fit

Assessing a candidate’s personality fit is just as important as their skills and experience.

You want to hire someone who will fit in with your team and represent your establishment well.

Ask questions that relate to the candidate’s personality, such as “How would your previous coworkers describe you?”

Conducting effective interviews is critical in finding the right bartender for your establishment.

By preparing a set of questions, using open-ended questioning techniques, and assessing personality fit, you’ll be able to hire a great bartender who will help your establishment thrive.

Making the Final Decision

After conducting interviews, checking resumes, and assessing skills, it’s time to make the final decision on who to hire for the bartender position.

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned to ensure that you make the best choice:

Checking References

Before making a job offer, it is important to check the candidate’s references.

This will help you verify the information provided during the interview process and ensure that the candidate has a good track record.

When checking references, make sure to ask specific questions related to the candidate’s experience, work ethic, and personality.

I recommend asking for at least three references and making sure to contact them personally.

If you can’t reach them by phone, send an email or a message on LinkedIn.

Trial Shifts

Another effective way to make the final decision is to offer the candidate a trial shift.

This will allow you to see how they perform in a real-world setting and how they interact with customers and other staff members.

During the trial shift, make sure to give the candidate clear instructions and feedback. Observe their work habits, attention to detail, and ability to multitask.

Also, pay attention to their attitude and communication skills.

After the trial shift, ask for feedback from other staff members and customers. This will help you get a more well-rounded assessment of the candidate’s performance.

Making the final decision can be a tough task, but by checking references and offering trial shifts, you can ensure that you hire the best candidate for the job.

Training and Retention

As a bartender, it is important to have a well-trained and engaged staff to ensure a successful and efficient operation.

Here’s how to retain your talent once you’ve hired them:

Onboarding Process

A thorough onboarding process will ensure that new hires are properly trained and integrated into the team.

This process should include an orientation session, a detailed training manual, and a shadowing program with an experienced bartender.

During the orientation session, new hires should be introduced to the company culture, policies, and procedures.

The training manual should cover topics such as drink recipes, customer service, and cash handling.

The shadowing program should allow new hires to observe and learn from experienced bartenders in action.

Ongoing Training

Training should not stop after the onboarding process.

Ongoing training is necessary to keep bartenders up-to-date on new products, menu changes, and industry trends.

Regular training sessions should be scheduled to review and reinforce skills, as well as to introduce new techniques and products.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is key to retaining great bartenders.

Engaged employees are more productive, have higher job satisfaction, and are more likely to stay with the company.

man and woman bartenders smiling with thumbs up
Photo by Serg Alesenko

To engage bartenders, managers should provide regular feedback and recognition for good performance.

Also, bartenders should be given opportunities for growth and development, such as leadership roles or special projects.

If the bartender feels like they are stagnant in their career, they’re more likely to look elsewhere for better growth opportunities.


How can you tell if a bartender is experienced?

When hiring a bartender, experience is one of the most important factors to consider.

One way to tell if a bartender is experienced is by looking at their resume or asking about their previous work experience.

You can also ask them about their knowledge of different types of alcohol, cocktail-making techniques, and customer service skills.

What qualities should you look for in a bartender?

Aside from experience, there are several qualities to look for in a great bartender.

These include excellent communication skills, the ability to multitask, a strong work ethic, attention to detail, and a friendly and outgoing personality.

A good bartender should also be knowledgeable about different types of alcohol, have a passion for mixology, and be able to provide top-tier customer service.

Do I need an experienced bartender?

While it is possible to hire an inexperienced bartender and train them, an experienced bartender can be a valuable asset to your establishment.

Experienced bartenders can hit the ground running and require less training, which can save you time and money.

They also bring with them a wealth of knowledge and skills that can enhance the quality of your team.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when hiring bartenders?

One common mistake is hiring a bartender solely based on their looks or personality without considering their experience or skills.

Another mistake is not conducting a thorough background check or reference check. It’s also important to avoid hiring bartenders who have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, as they may pose a liability risk to your establishment.

Final Words

Hiring great bartenders involves a blend of assessing technical skills, personality, and experience.

Look for candidates who not only have a strong knowledge of mixology and bar operations but also possess excellent customer service skills and a personality that aligns with your establishment’s vibe.

A great bartender can not only mix a fantastic drink but also create a welcoming atmosphere, handle pressure with ease, and contribute positively to your team.

By focusing on these key areas during your hiring process, you’ll be well on your way to building a team of exceptional bartenders who can take your business to the next level.

Hopefully, these tips help and I wish you the best of luck in hiring your bartending team.

See you next time!