Bartender Interview Advice

Bartender

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What Is a Bartending Interview Like?

A bartending interview is much like any service industry interview in that it is professional, but not overly formal.  Make sure you have been a guest in and researched the establishment to determine your interview environment and be familiar with their menu. The main objectives for an employer in a bartending interview are to assess your customer service skills and whether you’ll be a good fit on their existing team. They also want to know how skilled you are in the art of drink preparation and service.

The interviewer will ask questions in order to gather this information and at the end, will ask if you have any questions for them, which you absolutely must have if you want to make a good impression. If you display your bright intellect and outgoing personality complimented by a wealth of bartending knowledge, along with a genuine (and proven) desire to work there, you’ll be sure to ace the interview.

Bartending Interview Questions and (Good) Answers

  • What do you most enjoy about bartending?

This is your opportunity to really showcase your confidence and personality. Describe the specifics of why you love working with people and the kind of creative outlet bartending provides. Perhaps you gain the most joy out of giving a customer an outlet for fun and a means to unwind? Give details and show why you’re the perfect fit for the job..

  • What is your favorite drink to make?

No matter the drink they choose to ask about, make sure you know the recipe in detail, including all necessary prep work and how to actually prepare it. Relish in adding your own flair and details into the (literal) mix; i.e. know which specific brand of alcohol you prefer to use, your exact process (including any garnishes), and why you chose what you did. Be prepared to add food pairing recommendations if asked. Here’s another chance to show off your precision and creativity, a must in the world of great bartending.

  • How would you cut someone off?

Firstly explain that you always do your best to ensure that your customers never get to this point. Your next priority should to demonstrate that you never embarrass or lash out at a customer and can handle the situation discreetly and sensibly. If a problem arises, notify co-workers and management so everyone is aware and understands the issue and begin by talking with the person’s friends, as they can often mediate and resolve the problem themselves. If you must confront, when the customer tries to order another drink explain to them politely but directly that you cannot serve them anymore alcohol and that you’d be happy to serve them a non-alcoholic drink instead.


What Should I wear at a Bartending Interview?

The best way to find out the appropriate attire for your interview is to head out on the town and observe what the bartenders are currently wearing in the establishment you are applying. Emulate their uniform without directly copying it and error on the formal side. Never, ever arrive in jeans or a t-shirt. If this is what the bartenders there wear, take your attire to the next level and wear a collared shirt for men or a blouse for women. You want to show you are a professional and make it easy for the interviewer to see you in that role.

Pro Tip: What are the Best Cocktails to Know for a Bartending Interview?

While you should keep your drink list extensive, fresh and interesting, there are a few standards that you’d be crazy not to come prepared to rattle off. You should also do your research on the establishment and make you are familiar with the recipes and variations for their standard cocktail menu. Here are a few suggestions of recipes to know:

  • Dirty Martini
  • Cosmopolitan
  • White Russian
  • Old Fashioned
  • Manhattan
  • Long Island Iced Tea
  • Negroni
  • Whiskey Sour
  • Irish Car Bomb

Can I Start Bartending With No Experience?

While yes, there are some bartending gigs that accept applicants with no experience, most jobs require experienced tenders. If you plan on strolling into a bar thinking you’ll get hired because you’re an A+ customer, think again. Bartending requires a range of drink-making and mixology experience and most bars don’t have the time to train someone brand new. If you have customer service or sales experience however, you can start as a server or barback and work your way behind the bar with training. If a restaurant or bar mainly serves wine or beer, and you’ve worked in hospitality before, you will also have a better chance at applying with no professional bartending experience.


Summary: Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Wow them with your extensive and detailed knowledge of specialty drinks and cocktails
  • Dress appropriately (see tips above!) and stay engaged with the interviewer at all times
  • Ask questions and show why you’re the perfect fit for this specific job and workplace
  • Put your personality on display and show a propensity for interacting with people
  • Demonstrate a passion for their establishment including favorite menu and drink items

Don’t

  • Arrive late. If there’s one way to start things in the wrong direction, it’s being late. If you are running late, make sure to contact your interviewer ahead of time to inform him/her and ask whether it’s alright if you still come in. But really, DO NOT be late. Just don’t.
  • Answer questions with one word answers. If you can’t elaborate and engage in an interview, how will you interact with customers?
  • Over/under dress. You will look and feel awkward and show that you clearly have not done your research.
  • Come unprepared. There’s nothing more embarrassing than answering a question with a blank stare. Instead, rehearse your words, conduct mock interviews, and make sure that when it’s showtime, you confidently know the drinks this establishment serves (and beyond!) and how to make them.
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