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The Top Ten Bartending Interview Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

A lot of Bartenders worry about making a huge mistake in an interview, some colossal blunder that without a doubt will cost them the job. They usually focus on avoiding these huge mistakes so much that they completely miss all the little ones they make, which is unfortunate, because it’s actually these little ones that end up costing them the job. These smaller mistakes are things like how prepared you look when you first step through the door, how long your answers are, and how involved you appear in the interview. These little things that you normally wouldn’t think about hurt your chances for that exact reason: they make you look like someone who doesn’t think much.

Whether or not that really is you, how you behave in the interview is all the interviewer has to work with, so if you come across in anyway thoughtless or unprepared, that only leaves them to assume you’d act that way on the job.

Fortunately, these little mistakes are an easy fix – not once you’ve made them however, but before, so that you don’t make them in the first place. All you need to know are which mistakes to look out for and exactly why they’re mistakes, so you can make the small, but necessary measures to avoid them. With that being said, what you’ll find below is a list of the ten most common Bartending Interview mistakes, exactly why they’re mistakes, and a few things you can do to avoid them. Let’s start off with the moment you walk through the door…

1. Arriving Late

This first one sounds like a no-brainer, but it happens all the time. Applicants stroll through the doors five minutes late, or burst in sweating and gasping for breath with mere seconds to spare.

Why This Is A Mistake: It gives the interviewer no choice but to think you’re the kind of person that tends to be late, and no employer wants to hire someone like that. If you’re late to your interview, sorry, but there’s not much you can do to salvage it.

How To Avoid This: Arriving late is usually the result of poor planning. The night before your interview, make sure you have everything planned out exactly for you to arrive at the interview ten minutes early. That means have your exact route planned out, know how long that route will take, when you’ll need to leave home, and how long it’ll take to get ready. Have absolutely everything planned out so that you end up outside the bar with plenty of time to spare.

If you’re going to need a coffee, leave yourself plenty of time to get one and drink it so you don’t…

2. Bring a drink in with you

It’s commonplace to have a coffee in hand pretty much everywhere you go today, but it’s a mistake to bring one to an interview. Countless applicants bring a tea, coffee, or energy drink in with them to the interview, and then proceed to sip on it throughout while the interviewer is talking to them.

Why This Is A Mistake: It’s a sign of disrespect to have a cup up to your face when someone is trying to talk to you, plus you’re more likely to miss what they’re saying if you’re concentrating on your drink. Even if you finish the drink early on, the container will just become something to play with, and again, divert your attention from what’s being said.

How To Avoid This: If you need something to hydrate yourself or help wake you up, leave yourself plenty of time to get and have a drink beforehand so you don’t bring anything in with you.

Also, it’s an interview so you might be a little nervous and jittery. If that’s the case you definitely don’t want to bring anything with you that you could potentially spill all over your nice clothes – and by nice clothes I don’t mean anything too formal because you don’t want to end up…

3. Overdressing

Regardless of what kind of bar they’re applying to, guys tend to automatically reach for a dress shirt and tie, and girls automatically reach for a dress, or a blouse and dress pants.

Why This Is A Mistake: If you wear a dress shirt and tie to your interview that’ll be fine, as long as that’s what the bartenders at that bar wear, but if it’s not – and you’re the only person in a room full of people wearing t-shirts and jeans – all that’s going to do is make you feel uncomfortable and look out of place.

How To Avoid This: Ideally what you want to wear to your interview is something very similar to what the Bartenders at that bar wear on the job, because that’s what you’re trying to look like – someone that could bartend there. So find out exactly what the bartenders do wear, and then do your best to match it (but not exactly, that’d just be weird). If this means showing up to your interview in a waistcoat and tie, fair enough, and if it means showing up in a pair of jeans and a casual button up (this is still an interview, so at the very least it has to have a collar), so be it, you want to fit in.

(To find out EXACTLY What To Wear To A Bartending Interview, click here.)

Now one reason you might end up overdressing for your interview could be because you…

4. Don’t Know Anything About The Place

The majority of Bartending Job applicants have never actually been to the bar they’re applying to, so they know next to nothing about the place other than the fact they’re hiring.

Why This Is A Mistake: You won’t know how to answer any specific questions about their menu, or why it is you want to work at that particular bar. And as they find out how little you know about that bar, you’re going to come across as someone who couldn’t be bothered to spend ten minutes doing a bit of research, and someone that doesn’t want to work there nearly as much as they simply need to work – and “desperate, but lazy” really isn’t the image you want to give off.

How To Avoid This: Do everything you can to find out as much about the place as possible. If there’s time for you to go down to the bar before your interview, do it; but if there isn’t, then look them up online – check out their website, scour the web for reviews. Show them you know something about their bar so they can see there’s one less thing they’d need to teach you.

The more you know about the place, the more you’ll have to say, so that you don’t end up…

5. Not Saying Enough

A lot of applicants freeze up in the interview and will only speak when responding to a question.

Why This Is A Mistake: This is what most applicants do, so you doing the same won’t help you stand out. It also comes across to the interviewer that you’re either lacking in confidence or knowledge – two key traits of the successful bartender. You’ll also come across as not particularly skilled at selling yourself, and if you aren’t good at selling yourself, why on earth would they think you’d be any good selling their drinks?

How To Avoid This: Prepare everything you want to say well before your interview. The same questions always come up in Bartending Interviews, so find out what they are and prepare killer answers for them. Also work out what it is about you that makes you a unique candidate, why they should hire you instead of somebody else, and then work out exactly how you can tell them that. Prepare what you want to say beforehand, so on the day you don’t freeze up like everyone else.

Having said you don’t want to talk to little, you also don’t want to…

6. Talk Too Much

If an applicant isn’t saying enough, they’re usually saying too much. They’re not quite sure what to say, so they just fill the silence with noise hoping that the right thing will eventually spew out.

Why This Is A Mistake: You tend to ramble when you’re not quite sure exactly what you’re trying to say, and that’s exactly how it comes across to the interviewer. Also, whoever’s interviewing you has a lot of other applicants to get through too, as well as their regular job, so you going on any longer than necessary won’t be appreciated.

How To Avoid This: The same way you’d avoid not saying enough: Prepare everything you want to say well before the interview, and prepare how to say it concisely, so on the day you can sell yourself with detailed yet concise answers that give off the impression you tend to do things well and quickly.

Another reason you’ll want to prepare what you’re going to say beforehand is so that you don’t say the wrong thing, like…

7. Badmouthing A Past Employer

Without fail, interviewees are asked why they left their last job, and almost as often, they say it was because their last employer did something wrong.

Why This Is A Mistake: Whether or not it’s true, it shows you to be the kind of person that criticizes and complains rather than solves problems – not who they want running their bar. It also leads them to think you’d say the same thing about them if the job didn’t work out, and nobody wants their name sullied.

How To Avoid This: This continues with preparing what you’re going to say well before the interview. When you’re doing that, weigh your last employer with your prospective one: is it closer to home? Do they serve more of a type of drink you’re interested in? Are there shifts available that weren’t at your last job? Whatever the difference is, just make sure it’s something true that doesn’t paint you or your last employer in a bad light, and shows your potentially new employer that their bar really would be a better fit for you.

The goal here is to not make yourself look like a complainer, which is almost as bad as looking like a lier, which can happen with…

8. Fuzzy Resume Facts

We’ve all been guilty of this one at some point: putting something on our resume that’s only kinda true, but not entirely. Something like we worked at such and such a bar in “2013”, rather than saying we worked there for 3 weeks over christmas before quitting; or something like we were the “Head Bartender” at our last job simply because we worked there longer than anyone else.

Why This Is A Mistake: Quite often you’ll get called out on it. You usually get called in for an interview because someone looked at your resume first and liked it, so questions regarding your resume are bound to come up. Usually you’ll be asked about anything on your resume that was slightly vague, and if that thing wasn’t entirely true, when you struggle to answer the question you’re either going to come across as slow or a lier – neither are good.

How To Avoid This: Don’t put anything on your resume that isn’t 100% true. Only put on your resume what you can confidently elaborate on in detail, so if you get asked about it you don’t come across as a lier.

Fuzzy resume facts can also make you look like someone that doesn’t pay much attention to detail, and coming across as someone that doesn’t pay attention in anyway is a huge mistake, so make sure you don’t get caught…

9. Zoning Out

Interviews can be early and in places that are new to us, and sometimes, they can be kinda boring. As a result, a lot of applicant’s minds wonder off elsewhere and they stop paying attention.

Why This Is A Mistake: Obviously you’ll look like the kind of person that won’t be able to stay focused on the job. And the interviewer WILL KNOW when you’re not paying attention because they’ll see your eyes glaze over and look somewhere else, or because you’ll have to ask them to repeat a question. Also, it comes across as disrespectful.

How To Avoid This: Sit up straight and maintain eye contact. Stay engaged: nod, verbally agree, and constantly contribute to the conversation. If you’re tired have some caffeine and a good meal before the interview. Doing a little research about the place can help too because you’ll get less distracted by all the different sights and sounds if you’ve seen them before.

You don’t want to do anything in the interview that makes it seem like you’re not engaged, and one of the easiest ways to make that mistake is by…

10. Not Asking Them A Question

Every Bartending Interview ends the same way: with the interviewer asking you “Do you have any questions for us?” which is most commonly answered with “Err, no… I don’t think so… no.”

Why This Is A Mistake: It shows the interviewer that you didn’t think far enough ahead to anticipate this questions, so you probably wouldn’t think ahead on the job. It won’t come across as you simply not wanting to know anything because this is a place you hope to make a living at, somewhere you hope to make the money that’ll pay your bills, if there really was nothing you wanted to know, then you really don’t think enough about things to work behind their bar.

How To Avoid This: Before your interview think about everything you might want to know about the place and come up with a few questions about that (as long as it’s not about money – that’ll give off the wrong first impression). You’ll want to come up with a couple just incase they inadvertently answer one of them earlier in the interview. Be one of the few applicants that actually asks a question, and show them you think ahead.

 

Whatever question you end up asking them, you need to follow it up with “When do you expect to have made a decision by?” You REALLY NEED TO ask this question because you REALLY NEED TO know the answer. If you don’t, you can end up waiting around at home for them to call way longer than you should do. In the case that they never do call, you’d just end up wasting your time and delaying the overall process that finishes with you getting a job. So to avoid this mistake, at the end of your interview ask them when they expect to have made a decision by so when that time comes, if you haven’t heard from them, you know to follow up with a call to find out if they’ve hired anybody yet. If they have, now you know to move on and get back to the job hunt, and if they haven’t, well, you’ve just reminded them they need to hire a bartender and that you’re available for the job.

Good Luck!

 

For even more interview mistakes to avoid check out the link below:

 

http://www.workopolis.com/content/advice/article/recruiters-share-their-true-job-interview-horror-stories/

What to Wear to a Bartending Interview

What you wear to a Bartending interview can sometimes be just as important as what’s on your resume, and the things you say. The reason being, is that it can tell the interviewer just as much about how well you’d fit in there. If you dress too formally or not formally enough, if you dress in the wrong style or in the wrong colours, you’re going to look out of place, and if you look out of place, they won’t want to hire you. The person they want to hire is the candidate who looks the most like they’d be a good fit – at that particular bar. So it’s not just a case of dressing formally, it’s a case of fitting in.

Ideally what you should wear to your Bartending interview, is something very similar to what the Bartenders AT THAT BAR wear on the job. For example, if you’re applying to a Bar where the Bartenders wear black dress shirts, black ties, and black dress pants, then showing up in a suit is going to make you look out of place; what you want to wear is a light coloured dress shirt, with a dark tie, and dark dress pants – nothing more. You want to dress just like their employees because it forces the interviewer to imagine you as one, and will alleviate any doubts they might have over whether you can look the part.

Now to find out what the Bartenders wear at the bar you’re interviewing at, you’re going to need to do a little research. The best way to research what they wear is to actually go down to the bar before your interview and take a look. If that just isn’t feasible however, then either Google Images the bar, or go on their website to see if there are any photos of their Bartenders on there. When you find out what they wear, do your best to match it, BUT NOT EXACTLY – showing up in their exact uniform will just come across as cocky, presumptuous, and honestly, a little bit weird (For other Bartending Mistakes to Avoid, click here.)

What you’ll find below is exactly what you should wear to your Bartending Interview, split up into all the different dress codes that bars have out there, and then split up again into Men’s and Women’s options. I’ll work my way down in formality, starting off with…

Upscale Bars & Dining:

This covers everything from Fine Dining restaurants and high end cocktails bars, to hotel bars and fancy events companies. I’m talking about the kinds of bars that customers dress formally to go to, and the staff dresses to match.
The Bartenders at these kinds of bars tend to either wear a white shirt, black waistcoat and bow tie combo; or a dress shirt and tie. For an interview at these kinds of bars you should wear…

MEN:

Tops: Wear a light (not white), plain coloured dress shirt (small patterns like light stripes or gingham are also acceptable) – don’t roll the sleeves up. If they wear the waistcoat combo, then wear one too (as long as your shirt and tie are different colours to theirs, wearing a black waistcoat will be fine). If they don’t wear waistcoats, then neither should you, it’s too much.

Bottoms: Dark dress pants, either black, dark grey, navy, or brown – no patterns.

Shoes: Black or dark brown leather dress shoes – nothing else.

Accessories: Whether they wear a regular tie or a bow tie, just wear a plain dark, or simple patterned, regular tie – a bow tie will look like you’re trying too hard. Wear a dark leather belt that matches the pants. Wear a smart watch – bartenders need to keep an eye on the time, so show them that you can – nothing bright coloured though, or with mickey mouse on it. No jewellery.

WOMEN:

Tops: If they wear the waistcoat combo like the men, then follow the Men’s advice above; sometimes however, the women in these bars just wear slim black dresses, if that’s the case, then you should too, as long as it’s a practical dress – i.e. something you could actually work in (even if they wear black dresses, you can too, the little black dress really can be worn anywhere). If they wear a black skirt or black pants, with a black blouse, then you should wear a dark, plain coloured blouse (not black), and again, something that you could work in.

Bottoms: If it’s the waistcoat combo they wear, then wear slim dark dress pants. If they wear the little black dress, then follow suit; and if they wear a black skirt, then wear a dark coloured skirt, again, something you could work in.

Shoes: Dark leather shoes with a medium heel – no high heels; no flats; nothing with an open toe.

Accessories: If the Bartenders wear ties or bow ties, you’d do well to wear one too, but you can afford to go without if you’d prefer. Tie your hair back with a plain hair band. Small, simple earrings, nothing that dangles. If you tend to wear a bracelet, make it a small one, and metal (fabric is insanitary). If you want to wear a necklace, make sure it’s small – nothing that could get caught on a coworker or end up in someone’s drink. No unconventional piercings – as in nose, lip, tongue, or eyebrow.


Casual Dining:

Casual Dining covers everything from chain restaurants like Joey’s and Earl’s, to small neighbourhood restaurants and high-end public houses. These are the kinds of bars customers might dress up to go to, but nobody would think twice about it if they didn’t.
The Male Bartenders at these kinds of bars most often just wear black or grey dress shirts with black dress pants, and the women usually wear a black blouse, with either a black skirt or pants. For an interview at these kinds of bars you should wear…

MEN:

Tops: Wear a plain (simple patterns are also acceptable), lightly coloured dress shirt, buttoned all the way up to the second to top button – don’t roll the sleeves up. Don’t wear a waistcoat if they don’t.

Bottoms: Dark dress pants, no patterns. No Jeans.

Shoes: Black or Brown Leather dress shoes.

Accessories: Only wear a tie if they do, if they don’t, you’ll look out of place wearing one. Wear a watch, and a dark leather belt that matches the pants; no jewellery – that’s it.

WOMEN:

Tops: If they wear slim black dresses, then wear a slim, practical, dark coloured dress. If they wear a dark dress shirt, then wear a light coloured dress shirt; and if they wear a black blouse, then wear a plain coloured (anything other than black), practical blouse.

Bottoms: If they wear a dress, then you do too; if they wear a black skirt, then wear a plain, practical, dark coloured skirt; and if they wear slim black pants, then wear slim, dark coloured formal pants.

Shoes: Dark leather dress shoes, medium heel. No flats; nothing with an open toe.

Accessories: Tie your hair back with a small, plain hairband. Wear a watch. If you want to wear a bracelet, maximum one on each wrist, make sure it’s understated, and metal (fabric is insanitary). Wear small, simple earrings – nothing that dangles. If you wear a necklace, make sure it’s small; nothing that draws attention to itself, and nothing that could get caught on something behind the bar. No unconventional piercings – as in nose, lip, tongue, or eyebrow.


Neighbourhood Bars:

This covers everything from your neighbourhood pubs, irish pubs, and sports bars; to lower-end public houses, and dive bars. These bars are ultra casual, very few people dress up and the drinks aren’t expensive. These kinds of bars are the customer’s homes away from homes, the bars they’re most comfortable at, and as a result, the bars where the bartenders wear the most comfortable clothes.
The Bartenders at these kinds of bars usually just wear a casual button up, maybe even a t-shirt, and dark jeans. Female bartenders may wear a skirt instead of jeans. Now if the Neighbourhood bar you’re interviewing at’s Bartender’s just wear a t-shirt, I’m afraid, gentlemen, that you’re still going to have to wear a collared shirt, and ladies, you’re going to have to wear a shirt or a smart blouse, because even though the bar may not be formal, an interview still is. For an interview at these kinds of bars, you should wear…

MEN:

Tops: Wear a casual, plain coloured button up, much more than that and you’ll look out of place.

Bottoms: Only wear dress pants if they do. If they wear jeans, then wear dark coloured jeans (either black or indigo), pressed, no washes (that means when the colour fades in the middle), no rips – smart jeans that you might wear with a blazer on a night out.

Shoes: Smart leather shoes, no trainers, no boots, no canvas shoes – even if they do, this is still an interview, there is a minimum level of formality.

Accessories: No ties, you’ll look out of place. Wear a watch and a belt. No jewellery.

WOMEN:

Tops: Wear a plain fitted button up, or a plain practical blouse – a dress is too much.

Bottoms: The Bartenders usually either wear a dark slim skirt, or dark slim jeans, whichever they do, you do the same. If it’s jeans, then wear dark jeans (black or indigo), with no washes or rips.

Shoes: Dark leather flats, or something dark with a small heel – no trainers, nothing with an open toe.

Accessories: You can afford to wear a few more accessories here than you could at the bars above, but nothing impractical that you couldn’t bartend in – so no big earrings, bracelets, or necklaces that could get caught on anything, or have a piece fall off. Tie your hair back with a hairband. Wear a watch – bartenders always have to keep an eye on the time. No unconventional piercings – as in nose, lip, tongue or eyebrow.

Clubs:

I think you know what “Clubs” covers – nightclubs – places with dance floors, and the kinds of bars where customers don’t stick around any longer than it takes to order a highball, pay for it, and get some change.
The bartenders, both male and female, usually wear something black, in a tight fit. The guys often just wear a tight black tee (maybe a dark dress shirt), and slim black jeans; and the girls often just wear a slim black dress, or tight black tee/sleeveless top, with a black skirt. I know that this is pretty informal, but if you want to look like you could bartend there, you’re going to need to match. For an interview at a Club you should wear…

MEN:
Tops: A slim dark dress shirt – even if they wear tees, there’s still a minimum level of formality that needs to adhered to.

Bottoms: Slim dark jeans, nothing with a wash or any rips. Dress pants will be too formal.

Shoes: Either dark leather dress shoes, or all black shoes – no accents or linings that draw attention to themselves.

Accessories: Wear a belt and wear a watch. If you want to wear jewellery, make sure it’s small and understated, nothing that draws attention to itself, and nothing that could get caught on anything, or anyone, behind the bar.

WOMEN:

Tops: If the Bartenders wear slim black dresses, then wear a slim dark coloured dress – ideally something practical that you could work in. If they wear tight balck tees or sleeveless tops, wear a smart, dark, sleeveless top.

Bottoms: If they wear the dress, then you should too; if they wear the black skirt, then you wear a slim dark skirt. Sometimes they do wear slim black pants, in which case you can too – or leggings.

Shoes: Dark with a heel – nothing with an open toe.

Accessories: Clubs are perfectly happy with you accessorizing, so you can essentially wear whatever you’d like, as long as it’s practical enough to bartend in without fear of getting it caught on or falling in something.

ETC.

But what if the bar you’re applying to didn’t fit into one of those categories? Or what if it teetered between two of them? Well the same principles apply. If you’re interviewing at a hipster bar, where the bartenders dress in oxford shirts, suspenders, and bowties, then you should too if you want to show them you’d fit in there. If you’re interviewing at a biker bar where the bartenders wear all leather – and, err, well, all leather – then you should too to show them you belong there.
If the bar you have an interview at is a high end cocktail bar, but the bartenders wear jeans, a patterned shirt, and a waistcoat, then wear jeans, a patterned shirt and a waistcoat to your interview. There are a lot of bars out there that overlap the categories I gave above, and there are a lot of bars that don’t fit into them at all, just make sure you find out exactly what they wear, and try to match it to show them you could work there.

Whatever you decide to wear to your interview, the most important thing is that it’s something COMFORTABLE! The whole reason you’re trying to mirror their dress code is to show them you’d be comfortable working there, and that they’d be comfortable working with you. If you’re squirming around in your outfit, you’re not going to look like you’re particularly at ease being there. But not only that, what’s ultimately going to land you the job is how well you answer their questions, how confidently you go over your resume, and in general just how easily you chat with your interviewer. The person they’re going to end up hiring, is whoever was most comfortable doing all that. You want that person to be you! So start off by choosing some comfortable clothes.

Good luck!

P.S: If you end up at a bar that gives you some freedom with your wardrobe, check out the link below to learn how you can use that wardrobe to make some more money!

http://mixologywine.com/get-better-tips/12-fashion-tips-for-the-rockstar-bartender/393/

The Most Common Bartending Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

If you’ve already been to a few Bartending interviews, you’ve probably noticed that the same kinds of questions come up a lot. Well that’s because there are only about 15 questions that ever come up in Bartending Interviews, and they’re the same 15 questions regardless of what kind of bar it is. They’re simple questions like “What’s your favourite drink?” and “Why do you want to work here?” They’re easy questions that should be just as easy to answer, but for some reason, we struggle with them in the interview.

The reason we struggle to answer these simple questions in the interview is because it’s difficult to think under pressure. It’s not easy to come up with an answer when we’re put on the spot, so we start with “Oh, err, I, err, hmm. Good question!” which is shortly followed by the first thing that pops into our head, no matter how short, vague, or irrelevant it may be. Those really aren’t the kinds of answers we want to be giving when we’re trying to get a job. What we want to give are specific, detailed, and relevant answers that show off how knowledgeable and confident we are, answers that you just can’t come up with on the spot. So what we need to do is prepare our answers beforehand.

What you’ll find below are the questions that get asked the most often in Bartending Interviews (i.e. the questions you need to prepare for), and then their usual “on the spot” answers. Underneath those you’ll see “Better Answers”, the clear, detailed kind that are going to get you the job.

These first three questions are really simple, so simple in fact you may not even think you need to prepare answers for them. But I warn you, if you don’t have answers ready for these simple questions, you’re going to come across as kind of simple yourself.

“Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself”

Usual Answer: “Oh! err… Well I’m 24, I’m from Vancouver, well no, actually, I’m originally from nantucket, and err, I’ve err-“and so on.

Better Answer: “I’m 24, I’ve been Bartending since I was 20, mostly in fine dining, but have spent time working in clubs, public houses, and chain restaurants. I’m a big fan of everything whiskey from introducing my customers to classic cocktails like a Rob Roy, to making myself an Old Fashioned at home.”

“How Long Have You Been Bartending?”

(Now if you answered the last question properly, you’ll save them the time it takes to ask this one, but lets just pretend you didn’t.)

Usual Answer: “Hmm, I think about three years – wait no! Hold on. I worked at Smith’s Pub for just under a year, William’s Restaurant for like a year before that errr – took a year off when I went to Tahiti-“…I thought that was a pretty straightforward question

Better Answer: “Four years total: Two years to begin with at Johnson’s Cocktail Bar, one year at William’s restaurant, and then most recently a year at Smith’s Pub.”

“Why Do You Like Bartending?”

Usual Answer: “Huh. I guess, err, I guess I like meeting new people and, um like actually making cocktails-“…huh, haven’t heard that one before

Better Answer: “Because I think it’s important. After a weeks work, people need somewhere to unwind so they can to do it all over again the following week. Bars are where a lot of people go to do that, and seeing as they’re willing to spend the money they worked all week for, I think it’s really important that they’re given great service. I get a kick out of providing that service.”
(Seriously, how are you not going to hire someone with an answer like that?)

With those basic questions out of the way, they’re now going to start asking you questions to find out why you’re applying there in the first place, in order to guess if you’ll be a good employee.

“Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

Usual Answer: “Errr, well, I kind of, umm, felt I’d achieved all I could achieve there, like I’d reached a ceiling, you know? I wanted to kind of see what else I could achieve somewhere else”…not exactly sure what that means, but moving on…

Better Answer: “I wanted to work at Smiths pub to learn more about Craft Beer, but the end goal was always to work at a bar like this. After a year at Smiths, I felt like I’d taken a great step towards learning about Craft Beer, so I thought it was time to pursue a job in a bar like this.”

“Why Do You Want To Work HERE?”

(This might just be the most important question they ask, so if you’re only going to prepare one answer, make it this one.)

Usual Answer: “Oh, well, I saw you were hiring online, and, err, I’ve always liked this place-“…so you’re just applying wherever is hiring?

Better Answer: “Because this is exactly the kind of place I go to as a customer. I believe that you’ll only enjoy working at bars you actually enjoy drinking at. Your customers are the kinds of people I like to hang around with, your staff are the types of people I like to be served by, and your drinks menu is exactly what I like to drink. I think my transition here from one side of the bar to the other would be seamless.”

By this point they’ve worked out if you’re the type of person they want to hire, now they need to find out if you’re the type of Bartender they want to hire. This means that the answers you give to the following questions need to be shaped to match the kinds of drinks that that particular bar sells a lot of (i.e. at an Italian restaurant you might say your favourite drink is a Negroni, whereas at a pub you might say your favourite drink is an India Pale Ale).

“What’s Your Favourite Drink?”

Usual Answer: “Oh! Errr, ummm, hmmm, not really sure that I have a favourite, I guess I mostly drink beer”…uh huh, right

Better Answer: “An Old Fashioned with Booker’s Bourbon. The overproof strength of Booker’s really lets the Bourbon stand out, even after the sugar and bitters are added.”

“What’s Your Favourite Drink To Make?”

(Don’t repeat what you just said, it’s a different question, so they’re looking for a different answer.)

Usual Answer: “Oh, umm, I like making cocktails, definitely cocktails, you know, complicated drinks that you can spend a bit of time on, err, unless you’re kind of in the sh- in a rush-“…just stop, please, just stop.

Better Answer: “I know it sounds simple, but I actually love pouring draft beer. Every beer is so different in texture and carbonation, and every tap is different. I love working through all of that and pouring the perfect pint regardless, the kind of pint that makes a customer remember why they should order draught instead of a bottle.”

“How Would You Make A Negroni?”

(I just chose a cocktail at random here, but what they’re going to ask is how you’d make a cocktail that is popular there – you’ll need to research their menu to find that out.)

Usual Answer: “Oh, errr, 1 part Gin, 1 part Campari, and err, 1 part sweet vermouth”…that’s the correct recipe, but how would you make it?

Better Answer: “I’d use 1 part Tanqueray – because I like to use a premium gin, but nothing as distinct as Hendricks or Tanq 10 where you’re just going to lose the flavour when you add the Campari – I’d use 1 part Campari – Aperol is an ok substitute, but it’s just not the real thing – and then I’d use 1 part Cinzano Rosso – I think it has a bolder flavour than Martini Rosso, so it’ll stand out better in a cocktail. I’d put all that into a double rocks glass, easy ice, and then with a cocktail stirrer give it a good stir for about 15 seconds, so the customer gets the well mixed, well balanced cocktail they expect when they order a Negroni. Then I’d finish it off with an orange twist.”

They should be able to tell that you know your stuff by now, so next they’re going to try to find out if you can actually use that knowledge to sell drinks.

“What Would You Pair With Our House Burger?”

(Again, I just picked a dish at random; they’re going to ask what you’d pair with a popular dish of theirs)

Usual Answer: “Err, probably a beer, I like the classic beer and a burger combo”…why? what kind of beer?

Better Answer: “It would heavily depend on what the customer has ordered up to the point of ordering the burger, but in general I’d go with something dark and full flavoured to compliment the taste and texture of the burger. If the customer was a beer drinker, I might offer a Pale Ale, if they were a wine drinker I’d go with an American Red, and if they were more into spirits, I might just suggest a sweet highball, but recommend they have it served tall with easy ice, so there’s a constant refreshment while they work through the meal.”

“What Would You Recommend As An After-Dinner Drink?”

Usual Answer: “Oh, umm, probably something light, like a white wine or something”…care to be a little more specific?

Better Answer: “My usual instinct is to go straight for the speciality hot drinks, but I also like to sell regular hot drinks with a shot on the side such as Sambuca, Frangelico, or Baileys. I also love recommending a brandy too, something to swirl and savour as they let everything digest.”

Next they want to know if you can deal with difficult situations. Common questions for this are “What would you do if a customer didn’t like their drink?” and “How would you deal with an underage customer?”, but the most difficult to answer, and the one they ask the most is…

“How Would You Cut Someone Off?”

Usual Answer: “Hmm, I guess I would politely tell them that they’ve had enough”…WRONG!

Better Answer: “First off, I’d do everything I could to make sure my customer didn’t reach that point, but if they did, I’d start off by telling the other Bartenders that that customer shouldn’t be served any more alcohol. Then I’d tell a manager that I intended to cut someone off, just incase I needed support. Then I’d speak to the customer’s friends before I spoke to the customer directly – I think they’d respond better to their friends advice. If that failed, when they ordered their next drink, I’d discreetly and empathetically tell them I don’t think it would be a good idea for them to have any more alcohol, and that I could no longer serve them any – would they care for a non-alcoholic alternative?”

As things start to wrap up, they’re going to ask you questions like “What shifts are you looking for?”, “What’s your availability?”, and “How do you plan to get to work?” These are really important questions, so you need to have exact answers for them. Know exactly what shifts you want (and which shifts you’d be willing to start off with), exactly when they can reach you, and exactly how you plan to travel there. This will show them that you’ve proactively thought about what you’d do if you got the job – they want to hire someone who can plan ahead.

So that’s it, you’ve made it through the interview – stand up, shake hands and leave right? Not quite, there’s still one more question


“Do You Have Any Questions For Us?”

Usual Answer: Err, no, not really. I don’t think so. No.

Better Answer: Almost anything other than “No”!

You want to work for these people in order to make your living, do you really not have anything you want to ask them? If you want to know something (as long as it doesn’t have something to do with money) then ask them! Even if there’s nothing you want to know, just ask them something. Most applicants don’t ask anything at all, so you asking a something is going to help you stand out. It’ll also show them that you can think for yourself, unlike all the other applicants that just show up and react to the situation.

Here are a few good questions to ask if you’re struggling to think of any:

Can you tell me about the experience of your other Bartenders?
What are your bar brands?
What do your bartenders struggle with the most?
How long before service do your Bartenders come in?
How many Bartenders work at the same time?

Now before you leave, there’s still one more thing you need to do, and that’s ask them another question. Not just any question, this question:

When do you expect to have made a decision by?

You HAVE TO ask this. Again, it’s going to help you stand out, but much more importantly, you NEED TO know the answer. If they tell you they expect to have hired someone by Friday, then Friday comes around and they haven’t called, you know that you either need to follow up or move on, don’t wait around any longer.

There you have it, the most common Bartending Interview Questions and how you should answer them. Just make sure not to use the exact answers I gave above, those are great examples of how detailed and clear your answers are supposed to be, but you’ll need to come up with your own answers so you can stand behind them.

(For even more (general) interview questions and answers, click here)

Good Luck!

How to Ace a Bartending Job Interview

Most of us worry about interviews, a lot, and that’s how we act in the interview – worried. So what interviewers end up seeing are a bunch of nervous people that want to work behind their bar. You want to stand out from all that, and the easiest way to so isn’t to be the most qualified, but to be the most confident, and confidence comes from the right preparation.

Purpose of the Interview

Bars don’t hold interviews in order to find out if you can bartend, they hold them to find out if you can bartend that bar. A bartender will have to do a lot more than just pour drinks, they’ll have to look the part, get on with the existing staff, the existing customers, know everything about the drinks that are popular at that bar, keep that bar organized, and setup to the needs of that bar. In short, they’re going to need to have a lot of intangible skills, the kinds of skills that you just can’t put down on a resume, and that’s the purpose of the interview: to find out if you have those skills.

The Bar is trying to find out if you’re going to be the “right fit”. Now they can’t do that by letting you jump behind the bar, so instead, they’re going to have a ten minute conversation with you, and make assumptions. What they’re going to assume is that the way you look and behave in the interview, is exactly how you’ll look and behave on the job. So the purpose of the interview for you, is to look and behave in the way that they’d want their ideal employees to – so you need to prepare yourself to do that.

Preparing

Bars want their Bartenders to always be prepared: to always have enough ice, enough garnishes, backup bottles, backup napkins, spare paper for the machines; if a customer comes in and asks for “Oh, I don’t know, something fruity…with whisky” the bartender needs to have a list of cocktails already in mind to suggest. Bars want their Bartenders to have everything prepared just incase, so that when the “just incase” happens, service doesn’t have to slow down while the bartenders collect themselves.

In your interview, you want to come across as the kind of person that’s always prepared, and you do that by being prepared for the interview itself. You want to walk into the interview knowing as much as you can about that bar – everything from their most popular drinks to what the staff wears – you want to walk in knowing exactly what you’re going to say, and exactly how you’re going to say it; and you go in on time, at a leisurely pace, looking like you’re ready to work. If you do all that, the interviewer is going to find it very easy to favourably translate “you in the interview” to “you on the job”, and I assure you, unless they’ve read this article, no other applicant is going to do all that.
So how do you “prepare” yourself to come across as “prepared”?

Well the first step is research:

Research

Most of us don’t think past the point of “Ooh, interviews are scary” so we invariably end up surprised by what comes up in them. To get one step ahead of all of the other “Ooh interviews are scary”-type applicants, you need to research interviews themselves: what’s likely to come up, appropriate attire, what you should bring – luckily, you can find all that out here and in the articles linked to this page. Research what are the best things to say, the worst things to say. Go in knowing how a good interview is supposed to look.

Then you need to research the actual place you’re applying to. The best way to do that, by far, is to have a drink there before your interview. I would recommend never applying somewhere that you haven’t been to before, but I know the job hunt doesn’t always allow for that, so just try to get in there for a drink, if you can. What going there beforehand is going to do is make you more comfortable being there – and you definitely want to be as comfortable as possible in your interview. First off, you’ll know exactly where the place is and how to get there, so there’s no running around looking for the place on the day. Second, it’s going to give you a feel for what the customers look like and what they order, so you know what drinks to study up on for the interview. Third, it’s going to let you see how the staff conduct themselves: how they dress, how they act, what duties are assigned to each position; so that on the day you can choose what you say to show how well you’d fit in there. If you can get in there for more than one drink you might even become a familiar face, and managers always prefer to hire someone they know – even if it’s just on the level of facial recognition – than someone they don’t.

Then you’ll need to practice how you’re going to showoff all that information you’ve collected.

Practice

What worries people the most about interviews, is that they won’t know what to say – that they won’t know the answer to a question, or that they will, but won’t be able to articulate it. It doesn’t matter how much research you do, if you don’t show them that you’ve done it. So what you need to do is, for a few days (or as many as you have) before the interview, choose what you want to say, and prepare a little script with exactly how you’re going to say it.

The interview by its very nature is going to consist mostly of the interviewer asking you questions, and you answering them. You want to have your answers already prepared, so that when those questions are asked, unlike the other applicants who start their answers with “Oh, err, umm, well I-, hmm, good question”, you just shoot out a detailed answer with no hesitation, and the utmost confidence – that’s going to make you stand out.

Fortunately, this isn’t an interview with Google, so you can rest assured that the questions that come up won’t be that complicated, or even original. The same kinds of questions come up all the time: “What’s your favourite drink?” “Describe yourself.” “How would you cut someone off?” There are about ten to fifteen questions that come up in Bartending Interviews all the time, which you can be pretty confident will come up in yours.

Now you don’t want to have just any answers prepared, you want to have good answers. That means no one word answers. You want to give specific answers that show you know something about bar tending. If they ask you what your favourite drink is, “Beer” is not sufficient, it’ll just be followed up with “What kind of beer?” So save them the trouble of asking, and say something more along the lines of “Lagers, Carlsberg particularly because I’m a big fan of lighter beers. In the winter I usually switch over to Ales, but still keep it light with something like a Granville Island Pale Ale.” Which of the two candidates giving those answers sounds like they’ll be a better bartender?

Basic questions like your availability and how long you’ve been bar tending always come up too, so have answers, exact answers, prepared for those as well.

(To see The Most Common Bartending Interview Questions & How To Answer Them exactly, click here.)

The Actual Interview

Now comes the big day. You’ve researched the place you’re applying to, and prepared what you’re going to say, now you just walk in and wow them right? Not quite.

Taking a few steps back, part of the reason you scoped the place out was to find out where it is and how to get there. So the night before your interview, you need to plan out exactly how you’re going to get there, and when you’re going to leave. You want to leave yourself plenty of time so that you can stroll in there nonchalantly fifteen minutes before you’re supposed to be there, just like they want their employees to. If you show up late, or in a sweat, they’re not going to hire you – this is the day that impressions matter most, if you can’t be on time today, when will you be?

You also scoped the place out to get a look at their employees, in part, to see how they dress. You want to match how you’re going to dress with the way they dress to make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to see you as an employee. You don’t want to wear the exact uniform, that’s too presumptuous, but you want to give the manager an idea that you wont have to step too far out of your comfort zone to look good on the job. If the place is super formal, as in white shirt, black bow tie, and black waistcoat, then you showing up in a light dress shirt, a nice tie, and a waistcoat of some sort is really going to help them see you doing well there. The same applies to if they wear dark jeans and a casual button up.

(To find out EXACTLY What To Wear To A Bartending Interview, click here.)

Then you want to bring the right things, things that show you’re professional and prepared. No ruck sacks, if you have to bring a bag, make it a messenger bag, and wear a watch so they know you’ll always know what the time is. Bring a pen so if you need to write something down you don’t have to ask for one. Bring a notepad too incase you have to write anything down. Bring whatever you can to emphasize the image of preparation that they want to see.

Obviously, keep your phone on silent, and don’t bring in a drink – the interviewer doesn’t want to speak to you while you’ve got a cup of coffee up to your face.

(To find out The Top Ten Bartending Interview Mistakes To Avoid, click here.)

Then it’s up to you; do what you’ve prepared to do: use the knowledge you’ve gotten from your research, say what you’ve planned to, and wear what you’ve chosen. All that is going to make you as comfortable and confident as possible in the interview, which is going to best allow you to be yourself, and that’s what the interview is for: to see who you are, and if who you are is the right fit. Also, remember to sit up straight, look them in the eye, and don’t interrupt.

After the Interview

The interview is over; it went great: You said what you wanted to say, how you wanted to say it, and you looked great while you did it – what next? Well, you stand up, give them a firm confident handshake, and thank them for their time. Then – and this is the most important bit after the interview – you ask them when they expect to have made a decision by. For whatever reason, not many people ask that, you doing so is a great way to stand out from the crowd as a practical thinker.

Next, you follow up. If you haven’t heard from them by the time they expected to have have selected someone, give them a call. This is going to help you get a job in a couple of ways: If they haven’t chosen someone by then – and they’re busy people so they often haven’t -, you calling them is going to put you first on their mind when they’re reminded that they need to hire someone; but if they have, then at least you know not to hang around waiting for their call any longer, so you can get back to it.

This is all going to make you as comfortable and confident as possible in your interview, and that I guarantee, is going to make you stand out. You’re going to be able to present the best side of yourself, which is going to let them see how you would fit in at their bar. If after all that you somehow don’t get the job, don’t worry, it wasn’t that you weren’t good enough, it’s just that you weren’t the “right fit”, and if you weren’t the “right fit”, you might not have enjoyed working there anyway. Use what you learn from each interview, and use it to ace the next one. Keep applying what you’ve learned here and keep getting better at interviewing. Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll actually start to look forward to interviews, and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Good luck!

How to Get the Most Out of Your Tip Jar

If you use a tip jar to collect your tips, it’s in part because you don’t have time to collect them yourself. You probably only have time to tell the customer how much their drink costs, take their money, and make them change – there are more customers waiting. But when you don’t actually print the customer a bill and leave them time with it, you’re also not leaving them much time to think about the tip, so they just throw in whatever. What that means is that your tips can end up being smaller. Now you can’t fix that by spending more time with the customer, because you just don’t have it, so you need to get the customer to think about tipping another way, and that way is with the jar itself. By selecting just the right jar, and sticking it in just the right place, you can get your customers to think more about tipping; and then by throwing a great sign on that jar, you can get them to feel like tipping just a little bit more. Here’s how to do all that:

The Jar

Not all bars will allow you to put a sign on your tip jar, fine, they have their reasons, but either way what you definitely will have is the actual jar itself. Now there really isn’t that much you can do with the jar itself to coerce someone into leaving you a tip – that’s what the sign is for – but there are definitely a few easy rules to follow, and a few mistakes to avoid that can help you get that jar filled up.

So you absolutely want to go with something that’s see-through, but You Don’t Want To Use Anything That You Also Serve Drinks In. The last thing you want is someone mistaking the tip jar for someone else’s drink, not be able to find the tip jar, and then not give a tip. So no rocks glasses, tall glasses, pint glasses, or coffee mugs (if you serve coffee, that is), whatever you use for a tip jar should be the only one of its kind anywhere near the bar.

Then Make Sure It Has A Wide Enough Opening For Your Customers To Easily Drop Money Into. You don’t want anything like a piggy bank with an opening marginally bigger than a toonie so the customer has to fumble with their change to give you a tip. You ideally want the opening big enough that the customer can just tilt their change filled hand over it, and let the money fall in. The easier you make it for your customers to tip, the more likely they are to do so.

That brings me nicely to my next point: Put The Jar Well In Reach Of The Customer. Most bars tend to put the jar next to the cash register, which makes a lot of sense because plenty of cash is moving around there, and the bartender can keep an eye on it, but if your cash register is off to the side, or somewhere where the customer is going to struggle to get near it, don’t put your jar there. The second your customer has to struggle to give you a tip, they’re going to think twice about giving you one.

And then one last point – the most important one – Put It Where The Customer Is DEFINITELY Going To See It. Not just where they can see it, but where they will see it. It doesn’t matter which jar you choose if the customer doesn’t actually sees it. The ideal place would be right underneath where your hand goes when you give them their change, so when they look down at their hand they see the tip jar right right behind it, and the mental connection is made. Putting it next to the cash register is usually a safe bet, but it could also go by the bar mats, the beer taps, the service station, wherever, it really doesn’t matter exactly where, just as long as the customer has no choice but to at least glance at it.

Those are the best ways to go about making sure the customer can spot the tip jar amongst all the hustle and bustle of the bar, but you may still need to actually convince them to leave a tip, and that’s where The Sign comes in. The Tip Jar Sign is there to draw even more attention to your jar, and to put your customer in a good mood where they’re more likely to tip, which means writing “Tips” on a post-it note isn’t going to cut it. So here are some tips of my own on how to create a great sign:

The Sign

First off, The Most Important Thing To Consider With Tip Jars In General Is Clarity! The customer should clearly be able to see the sign, and clearly know what it is that they’re seeing, so make that sign big. Not so big as to be tactless, but big enough to catch someones eye. Don’t stick the sign on the side of the jar either, that defeats the purpose of making the jar see-through, and it’s not a smart use of space. One of the reasons of having the sign there in the first place is to draw extra attention to the jar, so put it above the jar and take up some extra space.

Then make sure the message on the sign is easy to read. No small writing, no fancy fonts or light colours, big bold dark capitals on a white background is the best way to go. It can get pretty dark in some bars, and the people you’re trying to get to read your sign may have had a few, so make those words easy to read. Then choose a clear message, as in understandable. The customer shouldn’t be confused by or have to think too much about your message. The sign is there to make the customer think about tipping, not about the sign itself.

Now because there are plenty of messages written all over bars – menus, events, specials, directions – you’re going to need to actually reference tips on your sign so the customer knows that this message is for the tip jar. But you can’t just flat out ask for a tip on your sign the same way you can’t do it as a server, so the best way to go about it, without being rude, is with humour.

I think that Humour Is The Best Way To Go About Getting A Tip, Period. When you sit at a bar or a table, and whoever is serving you amuses you and makes you laugh, don’t you normally tip a little more? It works much in the same way with your sign. Customers go out to have a good time, so anything that you do to help them have one, often finds itself reflected in your tips.

So try to make the customer laugh with your sign. You could go with a classic one liner where tipping is referenced in either the setup or the punchline, or you could go with a pun on the word tip – you can make one up yourself, it shouldn’t be too difficult, the word tip has a few meanings; or, you could just pull one off of the web. You could replace some of the lyrics in a popular song with the word tip, or one of its synonyms (gratuity, change, gift, present), or you could just put up a funny image with a tip related caption. Whatever you can do to make the customer laugh is going to increase your tips.

The point there with humour was to please the customer, because the better mood the customer is in, the better they are going to tip. You can put the customer in a good mood by putting something they’ll appreciate on the sign, or if you aren’t sure of what your customers will appreciate you can just Take Something From Pop Culture. Going with a pop culture reference on your sign works in a couple of ways: first, it’s going to draw the attention of anyone who has an interest in that subject (and if it’s considered pop-culture, that means plenty of people will); and two, plenty of people are going to like it. Right now, Game of Thrones is wildly popular; put a joke about Game of Thrones on your sign, that references tips (the tip of someone’s sword – I don’t know, every time I switch that program on someone is swinging one of those things) and your golden. A couple of years ago, a Breaking Bad reference would’ve worked pretty well, or Archer’s classic “Just the tip?”

If you don’t trust yourself to gage what’s hot, then go with something that is perennially popular, like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, or Jeans; whatever, there are plenty of things out there that never go out of fashion. Once you’ve chosen one of them, throw a related image on the sign – again, it’ll help draw peoples attention.

It doesn’t even have to be something that everybody enjoys by the way; it can be something that everybody hates. For whatever reason, Anti-Justin Bieber Tip Jar Signs seem to be pretty popular right now. I’ve seen “Justin Bieber Assassination Fund” signs, “Every time you tip, Justin Bieber gets punched in the face” signs. I’m not trying to put out some hidden agenda I have against the guy, I’m just trying to show you that whatever is “in the now”, likeable or not, can be used to help you get a tip.

Now if you really don’t trust yourself to guess what’s hot and what’s not, you can capitalize on that with what is called A Tip Jar Battle. A Tip Jar battle is when you have two tip jars side by side underneath a question with two possible answers. Remember, something easy to read like “Which is better, Star Wars or Star Trek?”; “Who tips better, Boys or Girls?” The idea is that the customer puts a tip in the jar that corresponds with their answer. It’s a bit of fun, and people tend to like to have their say on, well, pretty much anything that they can have their say on. What you’ll find is that one side fills up much more quickly than the other. Try to go for a question that’ll stay neck and neck so people actually have to tip for their side to get the edge. My personal favourite is “Who would you rather have narrate your life: Morgan Freeman or Christopher Walken?”

That’s the advice I have for you on what to put on your sign, but before I leave you, I want to briefly touch on a few things to keep off of it.

Obviously Don’t Write Anything Insulting, as in nothing overtly offensive, OR anything that has a reasonable chance of being taken the wrong way by someone. So no hot topics like race, gender, or politics – it really isn’t worth losing a customer over a joke on your sign.

Next. You would never dream of asking a customer for a tip, or trying to guilt them into giving you one in person, so Don’t Ask For, or Try To Guilt A Tip Out Of Your Customer On Your Sign. That’ll do one of two things: persuade them not to tip at all; or make them tip, but not want to come back (and that destroys any chance of getting a tip out of them again).
And lastly, Don’t Just Write “Tips”, it’s very similar to asking for one – it’s even almost a command, plus it’s kinda lazy.

However you end up approaching your tip jar, consider this: the tip jar is a representation of you, the bartender. After all, customers are putting cash in there for you to take home, not for the jar to spend. If you put up a sign that someone finds hilarious, it’s you they’re finding hilarious; and, if you put up a sign that insults someone, then it’s you that’s insulting them.. The same applies to effort, if it looks like you put a lot of effort into the sign, it shows the customer that you’re putting effort into your job, and that’s what customers tip for. So choose the right jar, make a great sign, and watch your tips increase, but remember, the jar and the sign can only make your tips better, you still need to give good service to get them in the first place.

Good Luck!