If you're a bartender looking for work, you can expect to attend a job interview before you get hired. Essentially, the interviewer will be looking for someone who has great people skills and can make good decisions while on the job.
Getting ready for your job interview ahead of time will make you calmer, poised, and confident when you meet your potential employer. It’ll also give you the edge over the competition. Ace your job interview by preparing answers to the typical interview questions you’ll be asked.
Discernment and Judgment
Being a bartender requires discernment. In fact, your judgment can potentially save lives when dealing with customers who have been drinking heavily. As a result, potential employers often ask bartenders whether they're capable of assessing if someone has had too much to drink.
No bar or restaurant wants to be on the hook for patrons who leave their establishment and drink and drive, or who do something equally as dangerous because they’re intoxicated. It’s important for a bartender to know when to stop serving inebriated customers, and also how to deal with the fallout if the customers get angry.
Bartenders must also handle conflict, such as customers who've had too much to drink and behave rudely or obscenely as a result. There's not necessarily one right answer to these sorts of interview questions, but your prospective employer would like to know if you have a plan for these all too common scenarios. Prepare to describe your experience in handling these types of situations.
Multitasking in a Chaotic Environment
Working as a bartender may be tough not only because of rowdy customers but also because of the sheer stress of handling multiple orders in a crowded and loud environment. Accordingly, employers will want you to describe the most stressful work environment you have experienced. How did you handle the situation?
Moreover, if the bar is extremely crowded and busy, how would you decide in which order you tend to customers? Employers will also want to know if you can do more than serving drinks. For example, do you have any experience serving food? Would you be comfortable taking food orders at the bar?
Bartenders need to have good memories, so expect to be asked about yours. How strong is your memory? Have you ever had to memorize a long list of items before? How do you handle taking a large order?
Being a bartender often requires teamwork. Given this, the job interviewer might want you to describe a time in which you had to work with your coworkers to solve a problem. How did working with others help solve the problem?
Leadership Skills and Previous Experiences
In most states, bartenders need a certificate or permit that indicates they have passed a course in alcohol awareness. These certificates are usually valid for three years from the date of original issue. Be sure to double-check your credentials to make sure you are covered.
Effective bartenders have a number of skills, including how to manage employees. In addition to your experience as a bartender, your interviewer will want to know if you’ve ever worked with or trained a barback. Or how would you feel about training one?
A good bartender may also need to be a good salesperson and will often need to make drink recommendations to customers who don't know what they should drink that night, especially if the bar is out of their normal go-to range. So your interviewer might ask you to describe your skills as a salesperson. How do you handle customers who aren’t sure what they want to eat or drink?
Your interviewer will also want to know about your previous experiences in bars. For instance, what types of bars do you enjoy frequenting on weekends? Do you like to spend time in large or small groups of friends when you go out to bars?
Here's a list of the questions you may be asked:
- Tell me about your bartending training and experience.
- What's your favorite drink to make? What's your least favorite?
- Do you have alcohol awareness training or certification?
- What days/hours are you available to work?
- Do you have any experience serving food? Would you be comfortable taking food orders at the bar?
- How would you describe your skills as a salesperson?
- How do you assess whether or not someone has had too much to drink?
- How strong is your memory? Have you ever had to memorize a long list of items before?
- How would you handle a customer who has had too much to drink and is being rude or obnoxious?
- Describe a stressful work environment you have experienced. How did you handle the situation?
- Describe a time in which you had to work with your coworkers to solve a problem. How did working with others help solve the problem?
- If the bar is extremely crowded and busy, how would you decide in which order you tend to customers?
- Have you ever worked with or trained a barback? How would you feel training about training a barback?
- What type of bars do you enjoy frequenting when you go out on weekends? Do you like to spend time in large or small groups of friends?
General Job Interview Questions
Don't prepare for your job interview by only prepping answers to job-specific interview questions as described above. That's because you’ll also be asked more general questions about your employment history, education, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, and plans.
Given this, it makes sense to prepare answers for each question in a way that shines a bright light on your past experience and your skillset.