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Questions to Ask a Mixologist: Bartender Interview Questions

Going through the process of hiring a new bartender can be an interesting one. You might find who you think is the perfect candidate, only to figure out the hard way they weren’t a good fit after all. Showing up on time and being friendly with coworkers is great, but how can you tell if someone will mesh well with the employee standards at your bar? We’ll give you a rundown of the most important questions to ask your interviewees when looking for a new bartender to hire.


Essential Questions to Ask a Bartender Candidate

One of the biggest aspects of bartending is customer service. There’s a lot of pressure involved, you need to be able to make drinks while maintaining composure and handling a variety of touchy situations. On top of all that, you’re interacting with people under the influence. Getting a pulse on how your candidates handle these situations can tell you a lot about how they handle the average situation they’ll encounter at a bar. There’re no real right or wrong answers (except for a few) but it’s important to see if the answers align with how you want your bar to be run.

How do you cut someone off?

Seasoned bartenders will all have their own different answers, but the general ideas remain the same. Take your time with their drink orders to stall and bring them water to drink. You should appeal to their friends too, getting them on your side to help convince the customer it’s time to stop for the night. Nobody likes authority, especially from strangers and especially if you’ve been drinking, so getting someone they trust to help you makes things much easier. Lastly, just being straightforward and kindly telling a customer they’ve had too much is a good move. Being direct is sometimes the best way to handle things.

What would you do if you caught another bartender stealing?

When you’re asking this question it’s for two reasons: you genuinely want to know how the person you’re interviewing would handle witnessing theft and it gives you the opportunity to show you have no tolerance for it. In the process of asserting that you have no tolerance for stealing, you make bartenders who have no issues with theft sweat a little bit. How they answer can show you a lot about their personality as well, allowing you to see their true colors.

How do you handle a customer you suspect of using a fake ID?

Confrontation isn’t a fun task for most people, and a big part of bartending is knowing how to handle it tactfully. In most cases, bartenders will refer to their managers in the instance someone is suspected of being underage. The main point here is to make sure your prospective employees know it’s 100% never acceptable to serve someone underage, which should be obvious, but too much softness in this situation can lead to fines. Professionalism and assertiveness are the key personality traits a bartender needs to survive, and this is an important situation to pay attention to.

How do you handle someone saying their drink wasn’t strong enough?

This is yet another example of a question that gauges someone’s ability to use tact and respectfulness to navigate a potentially difficult customer service situation. It’s standard for any service industry job to have the ability to avoid being stubborn, vengeful, or offended when it comes to a customer complaint. The answer you find acceptable is up to you and your way of doing things, but there are red flags to be aware of. Saying they’d pour a heavy-handed drink the next time isn’t the move, this says a bartender is okay with lost profits for the sake of pleasing a customer. Confrontation isn’t a great idea either as you don’t want to cause a scene. Usually, an appropriate response would be something to the effect of just remaking the drink carefully or a similar tactic. 

Test their personality as a comedian, therapist, and friend.

There are thousands of reasons to go out and have a drink, and because of the unique nature of a bar, it’s important to have the ability to pick up on the vibe and act accordingly. You don’t have to be a born people person, but taking note of how your prospects view the social aspect of bartending is important. Bartenders are in a position to make or break someone’s special night, be a listening ear, or cheer someone up who’s down on their luck. Ask them about their hobbies and interests, what they like to do when they go out, or any interesting customer stories they have to tell. You’ll learn a lot about how someone carries themselves and values human connection with how they answer these questions.

Go deep into the knowledge of classic beverages.

Bartending is a craft at the end of the day. Being social is a huge part of the job, but it all comes back to whether or not you have at least some level of appreciation for what you do. It’s unrealistic to assume that bartenders should always love what they do, everybody needs a job after all, and working in service can be tough for a variety of reasons. However, it’s still important to make sure the people you interview have some sort of understanding and respect for what they do. Ask them to describe how they’d make a few different classic drinks for you or, if given the opportunity, what kind of drink they’d create on their own. Do they seem inspired by the question? Are they able to give you a good answer on ratios for drinks? Remember, it’s up to you to decide if their responses fit in with your bar.

Knowing When a Bartender is Right For Your Establishment

Only you’ll know who’s a good fit for your bar. We’ve prepared you with some excellent questions to learn more about your prospects, however. These serve as a means to help you visualize how the person you’re interviewing would fit in with your bar. Think about your current bartenders, past employee experiences, and your regulars while you’re asking these questions. Think about the atmosphere your bar has. All of these factors are important when you’re figuring out whether or not to hire someone. 

When it comes to beverage ordering, you’ll have one less thing to worry about with Provi. Provi has thousands of brands ready to order in minutes, and with Provi’s inventory tracking system, you’ll learn more about who your bar serves. Interested in trying out Provi? Sign up today for a free account.

Ryan Philemon


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