6 Questions You Should Be Asking When Hiring Bartenders

6 Questions You Should Be Asking When Hiring Bartenders

If you’ve spent anytime in the food and beverage business, as an owner or just an entry-level employee, it shouldn’t surprise you that the industry has one of the highest turnover rates in the professional world. If you haven’t noticed just from experience, you’ve likely noticed the bottom line. Going through the process of recruiting, hiring, and training a new hourly bartender can cost you into the thousands.

So, how do you keep the costs down? Well you could just hire the one bartender and work them 24/7 against their will, but authorities will likely frown upon that. Instead, how about making sure you hire the best candidate possible? Here are 6 bartender interview questions to help your hiring process.

  1. Strike Up a Conversation

First impressions really do matter, and that goes double with interviews. The interview doesn’t start with a run-down of the job description or when the first question is asked, it begins as soon as they walk into the room. The same can be said for bartenders. The customer interaction process begins as soon as somebody walks in, not when they order a drink.

Pay attention to how they carry themselves, and don’t just jump into the interview. A good bartender will have to hold conversations with patrons, and this is when they need to prove they can do that even at times of stress. 

Bonus points if you get them talking about something they know nothing about, as faking conversations with customers is something they’ll have to do as well.

2. What are your opinions on upselling?

General experience questions are expected in an interview. Even with a resume that lays out the bars they’ve worked at in the past or any special qualifications, it can be tough to distinguish between candidates based on words off a piece of paper. 

Upselling, on the other hand, gets straight to the point about what sets great bartenders apart from common ones. By properly upselling, a bartender can make sure everybody wins- they get a larger tip, the bar makes more money, and the customers feel taken care of and in safe hands. Since it’s usually not in the most basic job description, it’s a great question to see who fully understands what bartending entails, and who is just looking for a part time gig to make a couple extra bucks.

3. Have you Been to Our Bar? How would you improve it?

While maybe not helping you judge the candidate directly through past experiences, asking them if they’ve ever been to your bar is a good barometer of how much research they’ve put into this position. If it’s somebody who has been applying for jobs left and right and is simply looking for a paycheck, he or she will likely be an employee who won’t stick around for long and might not be interested in your establishment outside of a potential income.

On the other hand, somebody who is serious about possibly working for you will want to know beforehand what the place is like to see if it’s a good fit. That includes coming to the bar and getting the experience firsthand by seeing things like what the atmosphere, how the bar works, and what the clientele looks like.

Meanwhile, asking for recommendations to improve is asking for an example of critical thinking to see if they’re going to be bringing in any fresh ideas, an added bonus of a good hire. It also flips as proof that you’re also open to positive change, easing their mind about any anxieties of accepting the position.

4. What’s your favorite drink? How would you describe it?

5. Let’s say somebody asks for something fruity. What do you make them?

These questions go hand in hand, so we’ve paired them together here. Both are trying to get to the same point: to determine how well your candidate knows their liquor. Each are questions/requests bartenders have handled in the past, and they need to know how to handle them on the spot.

Whether it’s a customer who wants an exact run down of what they’re drinking with a beautiful and encompassing description or somebody who couldn’t care less and just wants a drink and wants it now, a great bartender knows what’s in their bottles and can handle any request. 

In the end, if they’ve nailed every question and you’re confident you’ve got a winner, there’s only one question left to ask:

6. When can you start?


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