Your resume is perfect. You’ve scored an interview. Now, it’s time to make a great impression. Here’s what employers look for when hiring bartenders.
In our ongoing guide to becoming a bartender, we’ve talked about the types of bartending roles that exist, what schooling or training you need, top skills for bartenders, and how to build your bartending resume. Once you start applying to the roles you want, the next step is to tackle the interview process. The interview presents the best chance to sell yourself, highlight your most important skills and attributes, and impress your prospective employer.
What traits do hiring managers look for most when hiring bartenders? What are the intangibles – the things you don’t see written on a resume – that make for a successful interview? Here, we examine eight top traits hiring managers look for.
A common trait employers look for when hiring bartenders is curiosity and demonstrated interest. This can come in many forms. First, research the role itself. Before your interview, do some research about the company and its history, its brand position, type of clientele and anything you can learn about the company culture. If you’ve never been to the establishment in question, make sure you make a visit before your interview to get a feel for the place while it’s open. Showing the hiring manager that you have a real interest in the establishment will help you land the role.
Second, show curiosity for your customers. A bartender is often a very social role, engaging with customers all the time. Are you interested to learn about the people you serve? Do you notice when a customer seems down, or when they’re in the mood to celebrate? Do you have examples of how you’ve applied such curiosity to past roles? Share those with the hiring manager.
Given that a bartender is one of the top customer-facing roles, it should come as no surprise that people skills make the list of what hiring managers look for. A large part of the interview process is the real-life opportunity to demonstrate how you deal with people. When you arrive for your interview, or even if you’re taking it online, you’ll want to show off your ability to engage. Be courteous. Make eye contact. Bring energy and enthusiasm to the conversation. Be sure to ask some questions along with answering the ones posed to you, to demonstrate your two-way communication (this example also helps show your curiosity!) Since interacting with customers is so important, take this golden opportunity to show your potential employer that you can dazzle when it comes to your people skills.
This is where knowing that recipe book comes in hand. Very often, a customer will come into a bar and want a drink, but be unsure of which one or have a drink in mind, but be unsure of the name. Being able to help a customer find the right drink for them is a skill hiring managers find very valuable.
Being a team player
Bars are extremely busy places, and as a bartender you’ll have to work with lots of different people, including bussers and barbacks, servers, host/hostesses, and managers. Hiring managers look for employees who have proven ability to work as part of a team. For your interview, come prepared with a few examples of how you’ve worked well with others, especially in cross-functional settings like restaurants. If you don’t have the exact experience, highlight your team working skills in other settings.
Being a quick learner
Whether it’s the implementation of a new POS system or a new cocktail, the bartender handbook is always evolving. Prospective employers look for those that can pick up and apply new information and skills quickly.
Scheduling at a bar or restaurant isn’t a perfect science. Sometimes, a night turns out way busier than it was expected to be, or someone calls in sick and suddenly there aren’t enough people working. Have you been on call in the past? Are you someone that can be called upon when disaster strikes? If so, employers will move you to the top of the list.
Have you ever dealt with a difficult customer? Have you ever experienced a situation where a patron became intoxicated and you had to discontinue service? Do you know what to do when such situations arise? Then you have situational awareness, another top skill that hiring managers look for. Be sure to come to your interview prepared to answer questions that shed light on actions you would take (or have taken) in various such scenarios.
Time management skills
Surviving a busy Saturday night at a bar is a volume game. That is, how many drinks can you make and how quickly you can make them. Employers want to hire a bartender who knows how to get through orders speedily and accurately. They want to hire someone who can make a drink in two minutes instead of 10. They will also look for someone who can multitask in order to support the efficient flow of customers.
Those are just eight of the top traits hiring managers look for when searching for new bartending staff. There are many more traits that could make this list. Be sure when you’re preparing for your interview that you brainstorm examples and anecdotes, bring your confidence, and don’t be afraid to follow up afterwards. Demonstrating to the hiring manager that you can take initiative is one more trait that will help you stand out and get the job you want. And don’t forget to showcase your certificates and licenses — a hiring manager will give priority to someone who knows the legal requirements and is ready to start.