Bartender Interview Tutorial

Your bartender resume is on point. You’ve received the prized phone call you were out there looking for. Finally, a bartender job interview and a shot to be behind the bar.

But now what?

This is your very first interview to be a bartender so you have no idea what to expect, what questions they’ll ask, or how to make a good first impression.

Make sure you’re prepared in advance for your interview! You’ll feel way more chill, collected, and Kardashian-confident. Plus you’ll have a barstool leg up on your competition. Ace your job interview by knowing exactly how to get 100% ready and what to do.

By the end of this post, you’ll learn:

  • What a Bartending Interview is Like
  • The Skills and Qualities Managers Look For
  • How to Prepare
  • Interview Stages
  • Execution and Questions

What Is a Bartending Interview Like?

So, what are the vibes at an interview at a bar? It won’t be the party you’re used to seeing at clubs. Bartender interviews are professional, but not too stuffy or formal.

You’ll probably start by introducing yourself, then head over to a table or place to sit and that’s where the questions will begin. Typically, the employer will start and then open the floor up for you to ask questions, too.

The interviewer’s main goal with all of those questions is to see if you have the necessary skills to be on their team. More on skills later, because it’s more than just to serve drinks and upsell.

Here are the common stages of an interview, broken down so you can facilitate yourself through the day logistically.

  1. Before the Interview (Preparation)
  2. Arrival
  3. Actual Interview
  4. Post-Interview

What Managers are Seeking

The top skills that bar managers look for are work ethic, attitude, and a willingness to learn or adapt. Some have even gone as far as to switch up their entire hiring practice to look for people with the right attitude, instead of skill. Find out why, plus more on becoming a bartender without a lot of work experience here.

How Do I Prepare For a Bartending Interview?

Well, you’re already preparing for the big day! So give yourself some credit. But, to check all your boxes to maximize your chances of totally getting this job, there’s even more you can do.

Ask a mentor or friend to help you with a practice interview. You’ll run through common bartender questions and answers to get comfortable with the material, your answers, and the feeling of getting drilled.

Network with a welcoming group of bar veterans and professionals. Successful people, no matter what they do, have all commonly said that to be what you dream of being, hang out with like-minded people. You’ll not only learn the lingo way faster, but you’ll also gain a few references and even pick up on open positions that you might not have heard of in a job posting.

Attend a bartending school or take a course for bartenders. Go through some bartender training before you get the job from the most knowledgeable folks in the industry. Local Bartending School can get you certified and interview-ready in just a week’s time. You’ll be earning those big bartender tips in no time.

Visit the bar. Some may find this creepy, but really it isn’t. If you haven’t been to the bar you applied to, go! You can see what the energy is like, how to dress (more on that below!), the menu, and maybe even your future manager. Knowing what they look like could help calm some of your jitters.

Get to know the menu. While you’re secretly shopping the bar, study that menu! Try food. Your interviewer will take note of your enthusiasm for their product. Enthusiasm about what you’re making is key to selling it, which is what they’re looking for.

Take a shower. We know social life has changed in the last few years, but nowhere did that mean showers weren’t mandatory before a job interview. Shower, brush your teeth, floss, hang your shirt up in the bathroom while you’re showering to get the wrinkles out—do what you have to do!

What Cocktails Do You Need to Know for a Bartending Interview?

The best cocktails to know are the ones on the bar’s menu! If you’re interviewing at a wine bar, they might not care about your amazing margarita or favorite drink; they can’t even sell tequila. Do your homework, ask bartenders who already work there, and know which cocktails to drop mid-interview if they ask.

How to Crush Your Interview

Execution and overall crushing of your interview starts at the first email or phone call. If your email is full of typos, slang, and emojis, your professionalism will be questioned before anyone has the chance to meet you. We know how amazing you are, let your email show it!

If you’re on the phone and already have a tone full of attitude or fatigue, again, your future employer will think you’re lazy and standoffish. Keep your phone tone chipper and polite.

When you show up, dress not to impress, but if only to look like the bar staff so it’s easy for your hiring manager to see you working it behind the bar.

And before we leave you to execute your bar interview, know that it’s okay to be nervous.

Most interviewers take this into account and look more for experience and skills than your current state of emotion. As a bar manager, I’ve interviewed both sweaty and one time, snotty, people. Yup, their nose was running from nerves. They made a joke about it and we moved on, later becoming such a good bartender that he was a bar manager, too!

What Bartender Interview Questions Will I Be Asked?

There are tons of resources for you to have a good idea of what questions you might be asked in an interview. Watch the video below so you can use them in your practice interview!

Common Interview Questions You’ll Be Asked & Amazing Answers to Give

How would you deal with a difficult customer?

Answer this question firmly and confidently. Interviewers ask this question so they can find out if you’re capable of handling difficult situations well.

Show that you’d be firm with policies but soft on the guest. Mention that you’re always willing to grab a manager if someone gets too upset.

Why do you want to work here?

Your answer should express that the bar is one that you want to go to as a paying guest. Compliment the atmosphere, food, and/or drinks, and show that you’d be proud to be an employee there.

What are your weaknesses as a bartender?

We all have a weakness, so you need to show you’re aware of it and willing to work on things until you see an improvement. Maybe give an example of a past job where a weakness became a strength.

And at the end when they ask you if you have any questions, you want to have one or two. It shows you’re serious about the job and think critically beforehand.

  • What is your experience working here/working as a manager?
  • How many bartenders work at once?
  • Are there barbacks for peak shifts?
  • What number of shifts would you like to cover per week?
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Congrats! You’re Officially Interview Ready

In terms of bartending job interviews, preparation is key. Do you want to nail the interview or be so nervous you can’t answer a thing? Nervous is okay, so nervous you can’t talk is not.

When you’re interviewing, remember that managers are looking for people who are hardworking, willing to learn, have applicable bartending experience, communication skills, and are well-presented.

Keep in mind, the interview begins immediately after you answer your potential employer’s email or phone call. From the very beginning, your employer and eventually future colleagues will be evaluating you. So make sure you walk in making a good first impression and positive attitude.

Lastly, don’t forget that interviewing is just like learning anything else. You’ll get better at them the more you go through your job search.

Let’s go get some interviews! And when you land the job (we know you will!) check out some tips before you head in for your first shift.

Looking for a bartending school to get certified? Local Bartending School is the only place where you can gain certification in all 50 U.S. states!

Plus, you can be a part of the group of graduates who have crazy-high interview passing rates if you take advantage of their job placement program. That’s a win-win if you ask me.

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Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Lipe has been writing creatively since childhood but jump-started her professional writing after college. She's an Indiana native, Ball State Hospitality graduate, and a bartender with over 10+ years in the industry. You can find her making basil Moscow mules when she's not writing. Follow her professional journey on Instagram! @contentbycarriejean

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