Recruit and Hire a Bar Manager for Your Restaurant
A day in the life of a bar manager could mean playing the role of a diplomat, a mentor, a therapist, and an organizer all in one; charming patrons, troubleshooting a malfunctioning tap, submitting time sheets to the general manager, and interviewing for a much-needed bartender.
Since hiring and turnover are challenges that plague the restaurant industry, you want to find the right management candidates who stay with your bar or restaurant for the foreseeable future.
In this hiring guide, we’ll help you find the perfect bar manager who will uncork your bar’s success.
Hire and Retain Great Restaurant Employees
How to Hire a Bar Manager
Bar management takes care of your bar.
They aren’t just experts in mixology – they have business acumen and people skills in equal measure.
Hiring a bar manager is necessary if you have a team of bartenders or barbacks to schedule and care for. Great bar management also has experience behind the bar, so if you have bartenders looking to level up in their career, check in with them to see if a promotion is in everyone’s best interest. And if you don’t already have someone on your team who’s ready, you’ll need to start recruiting some applicants.
Define The Kind of Bar Manager Your Establishment Needs
To begin your bar manager search, you must consider what qualities your ideal candidate has.
They might be someone passionate about customer service, restaurant work, and creating the perfect cocktail. You may need a highly experienced bartender to train and develop your current staff, or someone who’s budgeted out a drink menu for years.
Many layers of expertise and personality traits are needed to succeed in this position. Here are some general qualities that make up a great bar manager:
Leadership Skills: A bar manager must guide their team and create a positive working environment for everyone around them.
Bar Expertise: Knowledge of beverages, mixology, trends, and customer preferences is useful experience to fall back on. Understanding inventory management, customer service, and compliance are equally vital.
Problem-solving Abilities: A bar manager should be capable of making quick, informed decisions to address issues that come up.
Organization: Juggling multiple tasks is the name of the game in management.
Financial Acumen: Understanding profit margins, cost control, and budgeting.
Here are some other ways to define what you need from a bar manager:
Identify Key Objectives. What are the goals of your bar? Are you trying to enhance team performance or maintain your clientele? Having objectives or goals for this position will help ensure a bar manager’s success.
Determine Expertise. How many years of experience do you need a bar manager to have? Should they have bar experience and people management experience?
Cultural Fit. Asses how the candidates' work values and ethics fit in with your restaurant's culture. Consider the qualities you need in a manager that would work well for your existing team.
Leadership Style. Define the type of leadership your bar team works best with.
Long-term Vision. How excited is the candidate to pursue a career with your establishment? Do they have ideas of their own?
Budget and Salary. Being in management usually also comes with the benefit of being a salaried employee. How much can you afford to pay them?
By carefully evaluating these aspects, a restaurant owner or hiring manager can create a detailed profile outlining the specific needs and expectations tailored to their establishment.
Create an Effective Bar Manager Job Posting
You need a job description that will attract top talent for your bar manager role. Outline the duties, schedule, necessary experience, and salary range. Highlight your restaurant's vibrant culture, team dynamics, and enticing perks, such as comprehensive benefits and growth opportunities.
How to Write a Bar Manager Job Description
Read more about writing a job description for your bar manager here. And, here's a bar manager job description example to get you started.
Job Title: Bar Manager
Salary: $40,000 to $60,000 per year
Tip Income: No
Schedule: Full-Time (40 hours per week), Wed–Sunday
Role: We seek an experienced bar manager to join our team. This role manages our team of bartenders and bar-backs and has a true passion for drinks and our clientele. The bar manager will work with the General Manager to create a cohesive dining experience. Keen attention to detail, people leadership skills, and experience behind the bar are key qualifications.
Train and mentor bar staff, ensuring exceptional service and adherence to quality standards
Curate and update the drink and bar menu
Work with General Manager to maintain a top-notch beverage program that meets revenue goals
Hire new bar staff
Monitor inventory, budget
Oversee glassware inventory
Establish relationships with vendors and negotiate prices
Attend the occasional trade/industry event
Conduct ongoing staff training for drinks and new drink menu items
Organize and execute private bar rentals/parties
Additional requirements: Must be able to lift up to 25 pounds and stand for long periods.
Advertise the Bar Manager Job
To attract potential bar managers, utilize various platforms and strategies:
Online Job Boards
Leverage platforms like Indeed or Glassdoor to access a wide pool of applicants. You can also focus on hospitality-specific job boards such as Poached or Hospitality Online. You’ll want to use keywords related to bar management to increase your reach (ex: bar manager, bar staff leader, beverage sales, hospitality).
Harness Social Media
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn broaden your reach and provide a more interactive space for potential candidates to engage with your restaurant's brand. Posting on social also makes it easier for your current employees to share the posting with their networks.
LinkedIn works as its own job board; you’ll post on LinkedIn using the same information as those other websites. The difference is that you can share this post with your network or have your team members share it as well.
For other social media sites, you’ll need a visually appealing post and a link to your job posting. Or, depending on character limits, you can shorten the description and add it straight to the social platform.
Employee Referral Program
Always pay attention to the power of internal resources when hiring staff for your restaurant. With an employee referral program, you rely on your team’s network to find talent.
If you don’t have the budget to incentivize referrals, you can motivate in other ways, such as free meals, gift cards, or recognition.
Screen the Resumes
As soon as you start getting resumes, you can begin screening them. But in a sea of resumes, it can be hard for one to stand out. By developing a resume screening process, or a set criteria of what you’re looking for, you’ll have a better shot of finding who you’re looking for.
Here are some of the top criteria we recommend prioritizing. When reading through resumes, you can rank these 1-10 and advance the highest-scoring contenders to the interview process.
Relevant experience: Look for candidates with a proven track record in the hospitality industry, particularly in previous bartending or people management positions. Look into the types of establishments they worked in. Are they similar to your restaurant?
Customer service skills: Evaluate resumes for any mention of customer service achievements, positive feedback, or specific instances where the candidate went above and beyond to meet customer, client, or diner needs.
Knowledge of drinks: Screen for mentions of menu knowledge, any certifications related to their craft, and familiarity with popular cocktails and ingredients.
Adaptability and stress management: Restaurant environments can be fast-paced and unpredictable. Seek candidates who thrive under pressure and can adapt to changing situations seamlessly.
Team player: Assess resumes for mentions of teamwork, collaboration, or instances where the candidate worked closely with colleagues to achieve common goals.
Once you shortlist your favorites, proceed to the interview phase.
In the interview phase, both parties will gauge suitability.
For a manager role, setting up a phone screen to cover the basics before an in-person interview that dives deeper into a candidate’s skillset is typical. Follow up with your select candidates to confirm a time and date for the first screening. If you want to move forward with a candidate after the phone screening, bring them into the restaurant to meet any other stakeholders in the hiring decision and ask more in-depth questions.
Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral questions aim to uncover past behavior as a predictor of future performance, focusing on situations relevant to a bar manager's responsibilities.
Examples of behavioral interview questions for bar managers:
What motivates you?
Can you describe a time when you had to handle a challenging customer or a difficult service situation? How did you resolve it while maintaining a positive guest experience?
What qualities make for a great bar manager?
In an ideal world, what does the bar you manage look like? How does it function?
What is your work style?
What is your greatest strength?
What is an unexpected problem you’ve run into during service? How did you approach it?
Share an example of how you would train or educate staff members on a new cocktail.
Describe a situation where you had to manage inventory and control costs without compromising quality.
What aspect of your skill set are you working to improve?
Review References and Background Checks
Part of the hiring process is reviewing references and conducting background checks. It’s an essential aspect of hiring that job candidates will expect.
Background and reference checks help you avoid negligent hiring claims and liability risks. They also ensure the safety of your team and restaurant patrons.
Contacting Previous Employers
Work history and references can be extremely helpful to verify a resume and the impact a person had on a business. Inquire about time management, leadership, menu additions, budgeting, and inventory management.
Previous employer questions:
How did [candidate] manage their time, team, and energy?
What are the most popular pairings that [candidate] created at your restaurant?
Were they good with budgeting and inventory management?
Would you rehire them?
You should always ask permission before contacting previous employers to respect a candidate’s privacy.
Criminal Background Checks
Like with contacting past employers, you must obtain a candidate's consent before conducting a background check. Obtain candidate consent and clarify the process.
An important note on discrimination: a candidate’s criminal record should only be used to evaluate job suitability and not be the sole basis for disqualification.
Make the Offer
Craft a compelling offer highlighting unique aspects such as career growth, innovation opportunities, and a cohesive team dynamic.
Most restaurant employees (46%) are motivated by making money and supporting their lifestyle — while 18% of restaurant employees are motivated by career development and growth within the restaurant industry. Beyond a competitive salary, the offer should encompass elements of the position that speak to a candidate’s passion.
Provide a Written Offer Letter
Prepare a formal offer letter that serves as a formal legal document. Outline the terms and conditions of employment, job specifics, and compensation details. Begin by addressing the hire by name, and express your enthusiasm for having them join your team.
You’ll also need to detail the terms of employment (an employee agreement contract), and start date. Include background and certification check conditions, a deadline for acceptance, and a signature line.
Be prepared for the possibility of negotiation. Some candidates may want to discuss their salary or benefits. Emphasize any unique aspects that will make your offer stand out.
Set Expectations for Start Date and Onboarding
Confirm the start date, and provide any information necessary for the first day.
You’ll want to begin orientation by introducing your bar manager to each of their direct reports, potentially setting up 1-on-1 check-ins all throughout their first week. On day one, give them a tour, introduce restaurant and bar policies, and go through the employee handbook.
Encourage your new bar manager to ask questions and provide feedback throughout orientation.
A note on restaurant retention after hiring
Retaining restaurant management is pivotal for team stability and success. Implementing proven employee retention tactics is one way to ensure you have a cohesive team that’s with you for the long haul – plus it prevents having to start the hiring process all over.
Emphasizing a supportive and inclusive workspace culture brightens the environment for everyone. A team that enforces open communication and actually implements feedback goes a long way in fostering an environment where everyone’s ideas matter. Recognizing achievements is also an easy tactic that is forgotten. Reward your new staff members with public praise, bonuses, or other advancement opportunities within the restaurant.
Creating a healthy work-life balance can be difficult in the always-on restaurant industry, but is increasingly important for employees. Leadership that acknowledges the demanding nature of the restaurant work and strives to offer support along with reasonable hours and time off makes a lasting impression.
How to Create an Effective Restaurant Training ManualGet Access
How to Hire a Bar Manager
The key steps in hiring the perfect bar manager are:
Define the ideal candidate. Determine personality traits, professional experience, and qualities that will fit in with your team or take them to the next level.
Ask yourself, how much can we budget for this position? Because management is a salaried position, be ready to spend 40-60k yearly on this new manager.
Write a detailed job description that includes your restaurant’s values along with the basics such as location, position, pay, schedule, and experience level needed.
Share that job description far and wide. Give it to your employees, your mom, your uncle. Post it on job boards, social media, and industry-specific platforms.
Create a resume screening criteria. Reiterate who you’re looking for and who has the qualifications to fit your needs. Choose a handful for the interview process.
Conduct phone screens followed by in-person interviews with a few qualified candidates. Ask all sorts of questions that cover skills, behavior, and culture fit.
Review other application materials such as cover letters, personal statements, and recommendations. Call your candidates’ references if they have any. Conduct background checks.
Make an offer on your top candidate.
Begin the onboarding process with retention and training top of mind.
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