Bartender Interview Questions and Answers, Attire, Tips and More
Bar Interview Tips
Bartending Interview Questions and Answers
So you’ve landed a bartending interview. Nice! And now you’re doing a bit of research, trying to get a leg up on the competition by learning some bartending interview tips. Smart!
Only looking for specific bar interview information? Skip to where you need to go with the table of contents below.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What happens during a bar interview obviously plays a big role in whether or not you land that bartending job. Although researching the position and writing a good resume are important, nailing the interview is crucial.
Working as a bartender can be a fantastic job, but it’s not for everyone. During a bar interview, you must remain relaxed, be positive, show your personality and your desire to learn and always have great responses to the difficult interview questions.
Below you’ll see sample bar interview questions and answers which will guide you through what you should and shouldn’t say during your interview. During the interview, remember to avoid one-word replies. And, if at any time your interview is interrupted – which is bound to happen in a busy bar – smile and say hello to whoever comes over. You want to show the interviewer that you have a good attitude, are personable and don’t easily get distracted. The interviewer will be judging you on how you interact with the other staff and customers in the bar to determine how you might be with future customers.
Don’t Forget! Bring a copy of your resume, cover letter, reference letters (if you have any) and bartending certificates you may have. Also bring a pen and paper so that you can take notes – you want to show the interviewer that you are interested in the position and are keen to get the job. You’ll also want to pay attention to the section below where we outline what to do before the interview.
Preparing for your Bartender Interview
Bartender Interview Tips: Before your Bar Interview
Right. So you’ve already got a bar interview scheduled but you’re looking to get the edge over everyone else by learning some bar interview tips and tricks.
Tip #1: Do your Research. For a bar owner, there’s nothing worse than interviewing someone who knows nothing about your establishment. If you’re going to impress the bar owner or manager, you’ll need to stand out from the competition. And this is especially important for those of you who don’t have any previous bartending or serving experience.
Research the place online before heading out to the interview. Find out things like:
- who owns the bar
- when the bar opened
- what’s the theme of the bar? neighborhood pub, upscale cocktail bar, lounge, disco etc
- what specials do they run? special dishes / drinks / nights / events etc
- what are they known for? wing nights / most TVs / pub trivia nights / best margaritas in town etc
The more you know about the place you’re applying, the more comfortable you’ll be in the interview and the more you’ll impress the interviewer.
Tip #2 – Go There. If you have the time before the interview, go to the venue, sit at the bar and order a drink. Get the bartender’s name. What you want to do here is make note of anything well…of note. Is the staff attentive, friendly or outgoing? Professional? How were you greeted? Take a look at the decor, what they have on tap, their cocktail menu, wine list, food menu etc. Are they slow or fast? Do they smile often?
Remember, if you smile, people will want to come and talk with you. And if you’re working the bar, they’ll want to order their drinks from you, increasing your tips.
You probably found out a fair amount of information about the establishment by doing online research. What stands out about the place now that you’re sitting there?
If you remember the name of the bartender and s/he is working the day of your interview, you can smile and say hi to them on the way in, which is sure to be noticed by the interviewer.
Tip #3 – Relative Experience. Whether you have previous bartending experience or not, you’ll want to run through your previous jobs, thinking of how they related to the job you’re applying for.
If you have little to no experience, this can be a good opportunity to note what related skills you do have. Perhaps you served at a charity dinner once or greeted people at a wedding. Maybe you have experience handling money – figuring out bills quickly from when you sold lemonade from your driveway.
The more previous work experience that you have that is similar to the job you’re applying for the better.
You probably have more related experience than you know
Most importantly, figure out why it is you want to work there – this is guaranteed to be an interview question.
Tip #4 – Practice. We get into sample bartending interview questions and answers below. Practice answering these interview questions before the interview with a friend or in the mirror so you know how you’re going to respond. During an interview, the interviewer will likely ask you for a description of yourself. What they are expecting is a brief rendition of your qualities and goals (more on this below). Remember, stick to the important stuff and don’t babble as it will appear that you are nervous and unsure of yourself or maybe even lying.
Tip #5 – Prepare Stories. Prepare stories about good and bad customer experiences. Keep in mind what your strengths and weaknesses are. You can use your first job or a family story as an example of times you’ve failed and how you got through them, learned from them and eventually succeeded.
Tip #6 – Practice Making Drinks. Nervous the day of the interview? Loosen up before the interview by practicing how to mix a few common drinks – the interviewer may ask you to mix one up. If they do ask you to make a cocktail and you’re feeling confident, make them your favorite kind of cocktail – something that shows off your awesome drink making abilities.
Sample Bartender Interview Questions and Answers
If you had advance knowledge of the questions the bar owner or manager were going to ask, you would be better prepared for the interview. While we can’t guess every question that you’ll get asked during a bar interview, we can suggest the most common questions. And we’ve added responses to these questions that you can use to model your own responses on.
Remember that these sample interview questions and answers aren’t meant for you to memorize and regurgitate.
You’ll want to make the answers your own and respond to the questions in a way that shows your own personality. What you will get by practicing answering each of the questions below is a lot more confidence that you’ll be able to bring with you to the interview.
Bartender Interview Question #1: Why do you want to work here?
This question is usually the opening question, and you want to nail it. Have a reason that is specific to the establishment. And not that it’s your favorite place on Saturday night and not that they are the only people hiring right now.
Play to their ego a little and say you like the style of the bar and have recognized how well it is managed from coming in as a customer. Tell them that you think the service is great and that the bar staff seem to work well together. Mention that you would like to work in a professional environment where everyone works hard, but works together.
Bar Interview Question #2: Tell me about yourself.
What your interviewer is expecting is something short and sweet. Tell them where you are from, what you’re working towards and what you’ve done to get there. For example, “I’m a student. I’m working towards a degree in… My favorite part of my studies are…
If you happen to lack experience and the interviewer mentions it, respond quickly expressing how you haven’t learned years of bad habits that would have to be undone. That you’re a clean slate in the bar world and you’re ambitious to learn the trade. Tell them you believe attitude and personality is more important and you have the attitude they are looking for.
If you don’t have any experience at all, you can offer to work as a bar back to start out and work your way up. Or, if you don’t have any real experience but are confident of your bartending skills, you can offer to work a shift or two for free to prove that you have what it takes to work in a fast-paced environment like the bar industry.
Bartending Interview Question #3: What are your strength and weaknesses?
The trick question. Go ahead and brag about what you’re good at. “I’m a great conversationalist and can quickly find something in common with anyone” or “I am very punctual, and that spills over into all my work, including returning to customers and checking up on them regularly” or “I have a very strong work ethic and take pride in what I do”.
When you highlight your weaknesses, remember they play on your strengths. For example, “I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and may spend a little too much time perfecting something” or “I’m full of ideas and sometimes I see what I think is a more efficient way of doing things and make suggestions to coworkers that they may not want to hear” or “sometimes if it’s a little slow in the bar, I get engrossed in a conversation with a customer and find it hard to cut it off politely so that I can take care of my other responsibilities.”
Bartender Interview Question #4: Tell me about a difficult customer you had to handle and what you did to resolve the situation?
Have a story ready from your first job. For example, your first burger flipping job during high school when you were trying to save up for college. Let’s say that you had a customer that came in and always wanted to special order a burger – and it was always during peak times when you were busy in the kitchen which slowed everything down. So, you talked to the customer and made him a deal. You told him that as soon as you saw him come in, you would start his special order burger with the next set of meat you put on the grill. He would simply order the same way and then step to the side and wait for his burger. This way, you were able to start his special order right away and it didn’t take a half hour for him to explain his order and for the cashier to find a way to punch it in.
Whatever it is, make sure that you have a story ready before you get to the interview.
Bar Interview Question #5: A customer complains his beer is flat? What do you do?
The best way to handle a situation like this is to charm the customer right from the start, before the apologies come pouring out. It can be annoying and feel fake to a truly upset customer but defusing the situation by relating to the customer and understanding his frustration will go a long way.
Say, “Oh that’s terrible, flat beer is no good, I’ll check the keg and get it fixed. If I can’t fix it immediately, is there another type of beer I can get you?”
Keep in mind the most common reasons for flat beer: it’s the bottom of the keg, the beer is ‘off’ or too old, or the glass is dirty causing the carbonation to dissipate too quickly.
Never tell the customer they’re wrong or ask “are you sure?” They will be offended that you are questioning them and you won’t be any closer to a happy customer. If the customer and situation are getting out of hand, tell them that you will get the manager to come over. This makes the customer feel important as he will get to talk to the “higher ups”.
Bartending Interview Question #6: Tell me about your previous work experience? or What related skills do you have?
This one is easy. Always find a way to relate your past experience to the job you’re applying for. If you worked at McDonalds for example, you understand the importance of systems, timing and a good work ethic and you’re quick to greet and serve customers.
If you worked in retail, again, you’re experienced with greeting customers and helping them find what they want. Share your experiences about answering the phones at work, handling money, and cleaning up after yourself and others. If you’ve ever had a creative idea that your boss used at work, highlight that experience. Maybe you designed the window display at a shop by yourself or suggested a special that really took off.
The interviewer will like to hear about your initiative and how your past experiences relate to the job you’re applying for.
Bartender Interview Question #7: Why did you leave your last job?
If you left your last job for school or because you moved, then this question is pretty easy. If you got fired or quit because you didn’t like your last job, then it becomes a little harder to answer. If you got fired, you don’t obviously don’t want to mention that you got fired. Tell them that you left because:
- you found it difficult to work in a place that didn’t have any systems and was very disorganized
- you were looking for more hours that they just couldn’t offer
- they constantly called you in last minute to cover shifts – up to 3 times / week
- you were looking for something a little more fast-paced
- the manager wasn’t professional and made sexist comments that made me uncomfortable
- they expected me to wear clothing that was just short of being a stripper
Studying the above example questions and answers will give you a huge advantage over anyone else who may be interviewing for the same job. Have an answer ready for any question that may come, show confidence and let your personality shine and you’ll be hired in no time.
Bar interview attire can be tricky to get right. You want to craft an outfit that shows your professionalism as well as your personality, but still maintain the ‘bar’ image and not be too formal.
Your first step is to do your research and go to the bar to see what the staff are wearing. Always try to dress just a step above what the current staff are wearing. That being said, if you’re applying at a neighbourhood pub and the staff wear shorts and T-shirts, one step above might not be sufficient.
When looking in your closet think of something you’d wear to a casual but nice dinner. Dinner with a respected friend / colleague or in-laws. Another tip is to ask the interviewer what kind of bar interview outfit they would like you to wear when they call to schedule the interview.
“How should I dress for this interview? For the position or business casual?”
For ladies, black pants are your best option. Make sure they are tailored well. Your interviewer won’t be impressed with pants too long, or too low on the hips, it will give a bad impression. Don’t show any more skin than you would at school. No mid-drifts! And be mindful of how low cut your top is. The interviewer needs to respect you too.
Wear a top that’s fitting to your form to look subtly sexy but smart looking. I recommend choosing a dress shirt that is a complimentary color. This way you will stand out from other applicants dressed in all black. Wear flat shoes and very little jewelry. The bar owners will only look at you as a safety hazard with 5 -inch heels and bangles hanging loosely, ready to snag at anything. Behind the bar can be a dangerous place. Try to look like you’re ready to work.
For guys, black dress pants are your best option. Your top should have a collar and fit well. Too big looks sloppy, or worse like a hand-me-down. White might come across as too formal, so try a blue or grey. Pin-striped clothes look good on both men and women. In regards to ties, unless the staff are wearing ties, you probably shouldn’t. Of course, this could be your way of showing some personality, in which case make sure it’s obvious. Mens shoes should be black and look somewhat dressy. Make sure you wear shoes that won’t slip or are not too shiny. Give the impression you’re ready to work.
At all interviews except for at the Tattoo Parlor, tattoos should be covered and piercings should be taken out.
First appearances count. Although it may be perfectly acceptable to have tattoos and / or wear piercings, wait until you get the job to find out.
And remember, looking smart is always better than looking sexy.
Good luck finding your bar interview attire!
What to Wear to a Bar Interview – Tips for Ladies
Tip 1 – Black dress pants. Not too long, Not too low on the hips
Tip 2 – A dress top in a good color. Not too low cut
Tip 3 – Flat shoes. Preferably black
Tip 4 – Simple jewelry
Tip 5 – Cover tattoos
What to Wear to a Bar Interview – Tips for Gentlemen
Tip 1 – Black dress pants
Tip 2 – A fitted collared shirt
Tip 3 – Black shoes
Tip 4 – Cover tattoos
Tip 5 – Take out piercings
Bartender Interview Tips: After your Bartending Job Interview
You’ve already researched the bars in your area that interest you the most. You’ve written an amazing bartending resume complete with cover letter. You’ve prepared for, practiced and dazzled them in the interview. Now what?
It’s time to make sure they don’t forget you by reminding them why you are the best person for the job.
Your first move should be to send a thank you email as soon as you get home from the interview. Thank them for the opportunity, their time and remind them why you want to work there. Tell them you really like the organization or the establishment and that you know it will be a great place to work. It’s ok to write your email as if you already have the job. For example, “I look forward to seeing you again and working with you and your staff.”
Once your follow up email is sent, and you’ve followed all the interview tips, your phone should ring. If not, wait between 2- 3 days to contact them one more time. Be persistent but not annoying. Write another email telling them you understand they are very busy and was hoping they could let you know whether they filled the position or not. Mention how much you enjoyed the atmosphere and that you think you’d be a great fit with the staff and the regulars. If you didn’t offer to guest bartend for a shift during the interview, you can mention it now. Tell them that you feel confident enough that you’re willing to work a free shift to prove your bartending skills.
It’s okay to go into the bar or club and speak to the owner or manager in person – just make sure you don’t do it when it’s busy or when you’re out partying. There’s nothing worse than an intoxicated applicant spewing niceties to a manager who’s on duty and likely busy.
It is good to let them know you’re available any time, but that means you must be available any time!
That’s about as much as you can do. If you never get a response from your emails, you can call once and ask to speak with the person who interviewed you. Make sure you call at an ideal time though. Not lunch, and not dinner. If you’ve done your research, you should know when the business’s down times are. Depending if they serve food and are open for lunch and dinner or not, between 2:00pm and 4:00pm is usually safe.
Now it’s time for you to ace your bartender interview and land that job!