Let’s be honest at the beginning: Unless you apply for a bartender job with a prestigious bar, club, or night club, they will nearly always hire you. We experience economic expansion, jobs are plentiful, and bars struggle to find people who will do the job, at least for the wage they can offer them while remaining profitable. Young people have many alternatives for employment, and they can choose. In many cases bar owners literally pray that someone will apply for the job, and the interview is nothing but formality.
But I do not want to indicate that bartender is a bad position. Far from it. If you love the atmosphere of the clubs, if you enjoy mixing drinks, and spending time with people who love to enjoy themselves, it is an excellent choice.
What is more, if you manage to get a job with one of the famous places, or clubs that serve rich clients, you can make great money as a bartender. In this case, however, you will face some competition in an interview, and you will have to emerge as the best one at the end of the hiring process. Let’s have a look at the questions they will ask you, and how you can answer them to make a good impression.
Why do you want to work as a bartender here?
Try to speak about things you want to bring onboard, not about things you want to take from the bar (a good salary). Before interviewing you should check the menu, the drinks they serve, the cocktails.
You can say that you are really good in preparing this or that cocktail (from their menu), or that you excel in working with the particular group of guests who visits the bar regularly (students, couples, rich managers, snobs, etc).
You can also praise them for something–an excellent reputation, friendly atmosphere in the bar, good choice of spirits, and say that it attracted you to apply. One way or another, they should feel that you really want to work for them, and did not pick the offer at random.
Tell us something about your previous experience behind the bar
Stick to facts. Tell them how long you worked for this or that club, and what you learned at the place. If you had many jobs, you do not have to necessarily mention all of them–this would indicate that they can not count with you in a long run, which is a showstopper in many interviews.
In an ideal case, you should find something about your past experience that prepared you for the job you want to have with them. Perhaps you mixed the same drinks, or worked in a similar environment, had night shifts, etc.
In any case, you should speak with enthusiasm about your past jobs and experience, and they should feel that you enjoy working as a bartender, and do not apply just because you need any job.
* Do not forget to check also: How to overcome interview nerves.
Describe a conflict you had with a customer.
Try to pick a conflict that had a positive outcome. Do not hesitate to admit making a mistake–interviewers will appreciate your honest attitude. For example when you gave back wrong change, or made a mistake in preparing a drink and customer noticed it, and complained loudly.
Good bars do not look for people who never make mistakes–because such people do not exist. They look for people who can admit making a mistake, and do not mind apologizing to the patrons. And they should also learn from their mistakes.
All in all, you should suggest that you never start arguments with the customers, and always act politely in work.
A twenty-one year old student orders ten shots, for him and for his friends. Some of them look underage. You know that police never comes to the club late at night. Will you sell the shots?
This is a tricky question indeed. Imagine the situation. A quiet night, you did not sell much, and suddenly a bunch of students comes to club, men and women, a group who can make it alive, and attract more customers in. Will you sell the shots? Should you?
In my experience with bar owners, this depends a lot on each owner, and their policy. Some will even encourage you to sell the shots, especially if they have connections within the police (which many bar owners have).
Therefore I would suggest the following: Tell that in principle you should not sell the shots, but you will follow the policy of the bar/club, and you will also carefully asses the situation, the risks, and the benefits your employer may gain from this situation.
How do you feel about upselling? Do you have any experience with it?
Bartenders who know how to work with semi-drunk customers, and how to benefit from their excellent mood while visiting the bar, can easily sell twice or trice as much as bartenders who do not care, and simply wait for orders to come.
Tell your interviewer that you consider upselling a regular part of the job, and from your experience you can spot a good situation for making an upsell.
The key is to show some courage, and demonstrate that you think about your employer, and try to make the most money for them while standing behind the bar. You can even narrate a particular situation from your last job which demonstrates this attitude.
Special Tip: Download all questions in a simple one-page long .PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later (even when offline):
What is your most favorite drink? Do you dislike any drinks?
Approach this question from a perspective of a bartender, not a perspective of a customer of a bar. In an ideal case you should pick something from their menu.
If you struggle with preparing some drinks, you should be honest and admit it. But do not hesitate to add that practice makes perfect, and that you strive to become better in preparing each drink. Once again, your tone of voice is equally important as your words. Try to speak with enthusiasm, so they can feel that you enjoy your job, and find some fascination in your daily routines.
* Special Tip: Check also great answers to 15 most common interview questions. You will definitely face at least some of the questions in your bartender interview.
How do you feel about sharing tips with your colleagues?
Chances are high that they have a policy of sharing tips when they ask this question. You should simply say that you are all right with the practice, that you believe that all people in the bar (waitresses, bartender, baristas, etc) form a team, and all participate on the customer experience.
For this reason everyone deserves their share–as long as they try their best in work.
This place becomes extremely busy each Saturday night. Imagine that five guests demand your attention at the same time. What would you do?
Show them that you can prioritize your tasks, and know how to manage the heavy workload. You can say that you have a good system of attending guests (from left to right, noticing who came first and second, etc), and that you won’t get overwhelmed by the sight.
You will simply do your job, as quickly as possible while maintaining your quality standards, and in a calm and cheerful manner attend one guest after another.
You can also say that you have experience with similar situation from your last job, and can manage a long night in the bar…
Some other questions you may get in your bartender interview
- How long do you want to have this job?
- How do you feel about working twelve hours a day, three days in succession?
- How would you prepare this and that drink?
- What motivates you the most in work?
- A customer sends their drink back. How would you handle it?
- Have you been in this bar before? What can we improve about the way we serve the guests?
- Imagine that your coworker was spending a lot of time at work playing with her smartphone, and the situation repeated two nights in a row. What would you do?
- Why should we hire you, and not someone else for this job?
Summary and next steps
Getting a job of a bartender is relatively easy, and unless you apply with one of the TOP clubs you do not need to worry much about your interview.
Do some research about the place, find out what people think, read the Google reviews and if you have some time, pay a visit to the bar before you interview for a job.
Do not forget that your non-verbal communication also matters, and try to show honest interest for the place and for the work you will do there. Last but not least, prepare for the questions from this article, and show the right attitude to work, colleagues, and guests while answering them. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Restaurant interview questions – Learn the ins and outs of in interview for any job in a restaurant.
- Body language in an interview – Learn how to say the right things without words.
- Salary negotiation tips – Basic rules you should remember when negotiating a salary in your interview.