Bar Hiring Guide

Bar Hiring Guide

Bar hiring is definitely a skill you will have to perfect. In a previous article I spoke about pub recruitment and how you can find qualified candidates. You can link to that here: Pub Recruitment . In this article, I will speak about the second part of the process, how to actually interview and hire pub employees.

So here we will pick up from the point in your bar hiring where you have actually gathered a number of resumes or contact numbers from candidates. Let’s say for example you are looking to hire a bartender to fill in some of your early week shifts which you are currently taking on yourself since your last bartender left.

You have a number of resumes from former pub employees, from walk-ins, from your website, and from a pub recruitment office nearby. How to find the right candidate?

Bar Hiring Step One: Begin by Sorting the Pile

The first step in bar hiring is to separate out the resumes into three groups:

  • The Near Perfect Candidates
  • The Okay Candidates
  • The Problem Candidates

If you have more than five outside of the problem candidates, you can probably get rid of the “problem” pile. (Though it might be wise to keep them until interviews are scheduled.)

Bar Hiring Part Two: The Interview

Regardless of who you hire, but especially when you are hiring a crucial employee such as when you want to hire a bartender, you want to makes sure to bring them in for an interview. That is the second step in Bar Hiring.

When it comes to the hospitality industry, the first impression matters. It will to your customers. If you are looking to hire a bartender and the candidate comes off as gruff, withdrawn, or just not a good match for your establishment (e.g., he is clean cut but you have a dive bar), remember that they will represent your business. If they come off like this in an interview, when they are supposed to be on their best behavior, then you can only imagine how they will act when they are in front of your customers.

If possible, you want to look over the resume carefully and to ask questions carefully. Ask the candidate questions which are not easy to answer. Ask questions like,

  • How do you handle customers who have had too much to drink?
  • What do you do if you suspect a waitress you are friend’s with is pocketing others’ tips?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What do you believe are your weaknesses?

Just as important as the answers is the way the candidate handles the questions. If you want to hire a bartender but every time you ask him a question he needs to you to repeat it, or she answers so quietly that you can’t even understand what she is saying, this is a bad sign for communication in your bar.

Good pub employees tend to be highly social and in tune with others. They tend to have high energy, positive attitudes and be fairly confident and comfortable with themselves. These are all necessary qualities. (Some of course, may not be able to show this very well on paper or have outstanding business skills.)

When you are dealing with candidates who have no background in pubs or bars, look for other qualities that might make them good candidates—such as dramatic background (would-be actors) or in music (musicians), such candidates often have the social skills to make great bar hiring candidates.

Bar Hiring

Photo Courtesy of Ann Larie Valentine (via WikiCommons)

Trial Run

When you are trying to hire a bartender or another crucial employee, one of the best ways to get a feel for a candidate is to try them out. If you haven’t opened yet, place a candidate behind the bar and have the candidate mix a drink or serve a table. Look for not only whether she does it the way your bar does—she may not—but look for how comfortable she seems behind a bar or at the table.

If you are still not sure, give your potential pub employees a week trial (paid of course) where you try them out. Let them work one of the slow shifts so that if things go desperately wrong the damage is minimized.

And of course, don’t expect perfection.

Get Advice from Fellow Workers

It is always a good idea to get a second opinion, not only from the candidate’s references ( you definitely want to check those) but also from others who worked with them during their trial. Bar hiring is a lot like creating a football team—it is not just about getting the best workers but just as much about getting the best team of workers for your establishment.

Someone might be a fantastic bartender who is great at mixing drinks, but if he hits on your waitresses and makes them uncomfortable or is clashes with the other bartenders, this may cause problems you’re best off avoiding.

Most bad pub employees put up red flags early in the hiring process. You just have to know how to look for them, rather than just recognize them once you are already signing the individual’s pay checks.

Filed Under: Bar / Nightclub BusinessBar / Nightclub Management


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