Hiring, training, and overseeing staff members. Ensuring that the bar is safe and clean, and that customers can always find their favorite liquor on the table. Negotiating with vendors, handling marketing efforts and social media campaigns, and trying your best to increase the profits of the bar each month.

This job encompasses much more than an outsider would imagine. Of course, the exact scope of duties depends on the size of the bar, and also on the location.

In extreme cases, Bar Manager is just a fancy job title for a bartender… On the other side of the spectrum, big bars located in busy city centers can sometimes employ as many as five bar managers (and countless bartenders, waitresses, etc).

In this article we will look at some basic questions you may face when applying for this job in any bar (any location, small or big place), and also on some more sophisticated situational questions you may deal with while interviewing in big or prestigious bars. Enjoy!

 

Why do you want to manage this bar in particular?

You probably do not care, and would accept a bar manager position in any place that pays well. However, try to convince them that they are your first choice, and that you know exactly why you decided to apply with them.

The best answer is praising them for something that makes their bar special (either in your eyes, or in the eyes of the customers). Things that are visible to the common eye include excellent location, amazing drink selection, perfect atmosphere in the night, great references from customers on social media or google, and similar things.

But you can also go with less obvious things. Maybe they have an excellent system of work in place. Each employee follows an excellent manual and code of conduct in work, and the entire bar functions like Swiss watch because of that. Or you see a huge potential of the place, and believe that you can grow the customer base twofold or even tenfold, with your excellent managerial work.

Anything you choose for your answer, try to convince them that they are your first choice. And if there’s nothing great about the place, praise their location (close to your apartment), or shift patterns (suit your lifestyle or your other obligations).

 

How do you imagine a typical day in work in our bar?

You can’t answer this question well, unless you do a proper research about the place. Opening hours, ambience, number of waitresses/hostesses/bartenders working at the place, the average number of guests each night, etc.

Actually the best thing you can do is paying the bar a visit before you interview for the job with them. Take some friends and enjoy a night out, soaking in the vibe of the place. But try not drinking too much, and observe as much as you can, watching both employees and customers.

Then it should be easy to say when you’d come to work and what you’d do during the day or during the night. You can also list some working duties from their job description, such as:

  • allocating people on shifts and overseeing the smooth operation of the bar
  • negotiating with suppliers and vendors, managing inventories
  • dealing with any customer complaints and addressing any problems that may arise during the shift

interview in a friendly atmoshpere in a bar

Please tell us something about your experience. (Walk us through your resume.)

Try to focus on relevant experience–anything you did in customer service, hospitality, catering, management, or even in sales. If you responded for similar duties in your past job(s), such as managing people, allocating staff to shifts, hiring or training new employees, negotiating with vendors–you should certainly mention it.

You should also mention any achievements, especially from the perspective of your former employers. Maybe you helped to improve the reputation of their business, designed a viral marketing campaign that resulted in huge increase of their customer base, and consequently their sales, etc.

However, you can succeed even when you have no relevant experience (or no experience whatsoever). If they invited you for an interview, it means they are ready to give you the chance, despite your lack of experience.

Ensure the interviewers that you are eager to learn and work hard. Your excellent communication and leadership skills will help you get around, and handle the work.

 

How would you motivate the bartenders (waitresses, other staff members) to try their best in work?

Employee motivation is a huge problem in an entire catering industry. Almost all bars, cafeterias, and restaurants look for new people constantly.

This logically leads to high job hopping rates. People aren’t motivated to work particularly hard, because they can always get a new job quickly–if they lose their current position…

But something can still be done. For example, you can try to create a an excellent atmosphere in the workplace. If people feel like a part of a team, part of something bigger, they have a tendency to work harder, since they do not want to let their colleagues down.

Motivating system of benefits, and flexible shift patterns, can also motivate people to try harder, and to stay with you. At the end of the day, everything is about relationships. If you manage to build relationships of trust with your subordinates, most of them won’t let you down.

 

Imagine that one of the bartenders doesn’t show up for the shift, and isn’t answering your calls. It’s Friday evening and the bar is pretty busy. What will you do?

The right answer depends on the size of the bar. If it’s a small local place where only two or three bartenders work, you do not have many options. In such a case, you should say that you’d take the work, that you’d replace the bartender on the shift for the given night.

You have more options while working in a bigger place. Contacting bartenders from other shifts and asking them to come and replace their colleague is one option. Typically you will find someone.

Changing the distribution of work, or the way in which your remaining employees serve the customers, (making it more efficient, or fitting for the remaining number of bartenders on shift) is another idea.

Last option would be doing the same thing you’d do in a small bar–becoming a bartender for one night…

nicely arranged bar pult

Other questions you may face in your interview for bar manager job

  • How would you define “excellent customer service”?
  • How would you describe our brand image?
  • Imagine that a big group of drunk customers starts bothering other guests of the bar. How will you react?
  • If we hire you for this job, what will you try to achieve as our manager?
  • Do you have any experience with hiring employees? How would you find and hire new people for this bar?
  • How do you feel about working until 4am?
  • Imagine that a liquor vendor calls you, saying that they have to increase the wholesale prices of all their liquors by 10%. How will you react? What will you do?
  • It’s Monday evening, typically a quiet night in the area. However, for some reasons unknown to you, there are fifty people in the bar, and only one bartender. What will you do in this situation?
  • How would you ensure that your employees respect all safety rules?
  • Why should we hire you, and not one of the other job applicants?

Special Tip: You can also download all questions in a one page long .PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

Conclusion and next steps

Interview for a job of a bar manager can be both easy and difficult, depending on the size of the bar, their prestige, and also the salary offer. Sometimes you can compete with ten other people for the job, and sometimes you can be the only candidate. Obviously it is much easier to succeed in the 2nd scenario.

However, you should not rely on luck. Try to focus on things you can control. Do a good research about your prospective employer, visit the bar upfront, and prepare for the questions from our article. It is always easier to accept defeat when we know that we did all we could to succeed…

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Matthew Chulaw
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