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Interview Questions for a Bar Candidates (Examples)

Jim McCormickAuthor

How to Conduct an Interview at Your Restaurant

You have done the hard work, put the pieces in place, and now have a thriving bar. It’s a dream come true, and you have never been busier in your life. 

With your packed schedule and all the details that come from running a business, hiring is often the last thing on your mind, even when it’s a necessity. But hiring the right people, and making sure your current staff are not overworked, is essential to keep your business operational and maintain the level of service your establishment needs to survive. 

With a little effort, you can also create protocols for hiring, streamline your interview process, and help to find the right people, faster, and more efficiently. We are here to help.

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Interview Questions Template

With culture questions, experience questions, and situational questions, this customizable Word doc will guide your interviews with prospective candidates.

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Bar Interview Tips

Step one, the interview. Start the interview, and put your candidate at ease by giving him or her a lay of the land     of your bar. The easiest place to start is by introducing yourself, what you do, and a little bit about how you came to be at your current role. 

If you’re the sole owner, what was your inspiration for your business? If you have co-owners, how did you meet and what does the ownership structure look like? Lastly, what are your passions when it comes to hospitality and beverages? Do you consider yourself a mixologist at heart? 

Doing this introduction provides the candidate with valuable information, and gives them a chance to relax at the start of an interview by just listening. Make sure you let them know they can interrupt you with any questions along the way to encourage an easy dialogue.

Explain the Need for the Role

Once your introduction is sorted out, it’s time to move the interview to the role being filled. Let them know the roles and responsibilities of the position, what the day-to-day looks like, and what your expectations are. When you work in an industry it is easy to think that roles and responsibilities are self-explanatory, but resist making assumptions because every business runs a little differently and every role varies slightly from place to place. 

For example, what is this role’s relationship to prep work? What is their hierarchy within the structure of the bar? Who will they report to? How long do shifts tend to be? How many hours would you like this position to work on a weekly basis? 

Being explicit with what you’re looking for will also be extremely helpful for your candidate who can make educated decisions about whether this is the right role for them. While being so detail-oriented might dissuade a candidate or two, initially, this is much better than hiring the wrong person, training them for two weeks, and then the hire deciding to put in their notice or not being a fit for your business long-term. 

Also, don’t forget to ask about their training with health and safety precautions as well as any certifications they might have or need for the role.

Next Steps

Always end each interview with thanking the candidate and, if you can, letting them know when you’ll be making a decision. This is also the time to share other pertinent information such as the hourly rate and how many candidates you hope to hire in total. 

Taking the time to do this shows them that you are a considerate staff member and it demonstrates the level of professionalism of your bar. Unsure what this all looks like? Let’s help you get started. Here are ten questions to consider when hiring bar staff , as well as ten sample answers.

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Interview Questions Template

With culture questions, experience questions, and situational questions, this customizable Word doc will guide your interviews with prospective candidates.

Toast

Bar Interview Questions

What do you see as an employee’s role when working at a bar? 

The way I see it, we’re all a team. Whether I’m working as a barback, helping the servers, or working behind the bar as a bartender, we are all responsible for a clean and safe environment with great drinks and a positive atmosphere. In this way I think that having the right attitude of wanting to help each other is the most important part of working in a bar.

How do you understand the bar hierarchy? 

The way that I understand the hierarchy within a bar is that barbacks help out the bartenders, cocktail waitresses place drink orders and rely on the bartenders to make the orders (though they might assist with parts of the drink), and the bar managers oversee the effort. 

Outside of the bar there might be a general manager that checks in with the bar manager and they might work together on the schedule.

What makes you stay at one bar as an employee versus another bar? 

I really like to establish rapport with fellow employees. I like to work at places where people fill in for one another and when mistakes happen, we assume that the other person had good intentions. I tend to avoid bars where there is competition and no sense of unity. 

On my end, I like to help establish that rapport by bringing a good attitude to work, doing my work, showing humility, and learning from others and always being willing to help.

How do you deal with criticism or conflict in the bar? 

I think it is important to remember that when customers are critical or unhappy, it is usually because they are disappointed because they had high hopes or because going out isn’t something they get to do all the time so it is an opportunity for them to relax. 

That being said, I try to take their criticisms seriously, be humble about any accountability I have in the situation, and make sure they understand that I care about remedying the situation. Even in situations where I feel the customers are not right or are acting unfairly, it’s a good opportunity to work on my customer service skills and see if I can make a positive out of a negative situation.

What is your philosophy on bar cleanliness? 

When the bar is not clean or well-run or organized, the operation will completely fall apart during a rush. Spirits and mixers need to be put back where they belong, refilled consistently, and there needs to be a good relationship with the dishwasher to make sure there’s plenty of ice and clean glasses available. 

It is about more than just safety and the bar being clean, the bar has to be clean to run well, especially during a weekend night.

What do you think are essential skills of bar employees? 

When customers come into a bar, they might be ordering food, but generally speaking it’s a less complex dining experience. 

With less going on, the customer service really needs to shine, because there are less tasks to hide behind such as ordering appetizers or providing a fine dining experience. I think the most important traits of bar employees are a good attitude, a genuine love for people, and great work ethic.

What is something challenging about working in a bar that you feel passionate about? 

One thing I often think about is that there are new drinks being created all the time, and customers do not often know which drinks are specific to which bars or which drinks are classics etc, and it isn’t their job to know. I remember when I first started working in a bar the customer asked the bartender for a drink I had never heard of, and neither had the bartender. 

I was impressed when the bartender was honest and said “I have never heard of that but do you know what is in it? What does it taste like?” It was surprising for me to learn that a bartender isn’t responsible for knowing every drink there is, but rather has the skills to recreate something similar or of a similar taste profile, and is thoughtful so that they still provide a top-notch customer experience.

What made you want to apply to this bar? 

(In this situation look for evidence that they know who the kitchen staff is, understand the mission or purpose of the bar, and have spent time looking at the specialty drinks, beer on tap, or cocktails - the more specific and prepared they are, the better.)

What is your favorite thing about working in a bar and why? 

As an extrovert, I get so much energy being around people and watching them have  a nice time, whether they are on dates, catching up with friends, or watching an exciting sports game. The energy in the bar is great and I like helping to maintain that energy as well as helping to create it.

What are your long-term career goals and how does working as a server help you achieve them? 

Because I have started my career working in bars, I really want to get to know all the roles of working in a bar from ordering provisions and stocking, to managing the bar, to the financial aspect, to understanding how to create schedules. Every task working at a bar is important and serves a necessary role, and I would like to know them all. 

Long-term I might be interested in being a bar or restaurant manager or working in hospitality in some respect.

Final Thoughts

While hiring new staff always takes time and energy, make sure to remember that in the long-run who you hire will represent your business to your customers. 

If you make the effort to hire the right candidates, who are a good fit for the position, you will retain wonderful staff who like their jobs, and have to do less hiring. It’s more up-front work but the payoff is a win-win for everyone.

Related Resources

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Employee Handbook Template

Outline your restaurant’s staff policies in this customizable Word doc to help restaurant management and staff get on the same page.

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