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A Step by Step Guide to Interviewing for a Bartending Job

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Most venues interview hundreds upon hundreds of possible employees every month. Each possible applicant comes in and sits down with the same manager or owner asking the same questions that many employers will ask of every one of their possible new employees. How do you get the one leg up, follow these steps and you will look like a star make the interviewers job much easier.

RESUME - This is the first impression any employer would have of you; they will receive it through email, job search website or Facebook. When it comes to resumes, you need to find a happy medium. A resume that has a star guide rating oneself on proficiency on showing up on time is a "little" overdone but a resume that uses a template from the very first edition of Microsoft Word is a little underwhelming. Find a happy medium that shows your flair and let your experience shine through.

Don't pad your resume, be transparent with your experience. A padded resume will get questioned at the interview and if it slips through, the first few weeks on the job will quickly show the real experience you have.

RESEARCH - This fundamental is usually overlooked by many job seekers but it is an extremely important one. Researching the venue can be broken down into the next few steps, each one as crucial as the next if you want to get the job you are hoping for.

a. WEBSITE - Once you have gotten the call for the interview, the first thing you should do is Google the establishment. This simple, maybe fifteen minute exercise will tell you a great deal about the venue. Hit the About button and learn what you can; is it part of a chain or group? Is it a Mom & Pop shop? How long has it been open? What accolades has it got? All this information can be used in the interview to give you the edge.

b. VENUE - A few days before your interview, head in and experience the space. This kills two birds with one stone, you know exactly where you need to go on the day which will avoid being late and you get to see if the bar is the right fit for you. Grab a seat at the bar, order a drink and a snack then soak in the elements of space. How are the staff dressed? What style of bar is it? Are the drinks and food good? These are all questions that you should register and use to your advantage but the big question is, does it fit for you?

Getting a job is a symbiotic relationship, if the venue doesn't feel right for you at that moment; then it's probably not going to feel right a month in. This avoids a lot of stress on your part and managements.

c. MENU - Study the menus, most bars have their cocktail menu online; print it out. Research the drinks, the ingredients, the style that the bar is going for; highlight drinks on the menu that you are drawn to, bring these up in the interview.

Knowing how a venue functions and works is the simplest way to feel prepared and confident in the interview.

INTERVIEW - The big day has arrived, you've visited the establishment and researched their mission statements; so how do you get the job you want?

  • Your attire for the interview should mimic that of the staff that work there, with a little extra something to show your personality. Always remember the adage "dress for the job you want, not the one you're going for".

  • Always bring a resume with you on the day, it doesn't matter if you emailed it in; a crisp paper copy is always better than none at all.

  • Arrive AT LEAST 10 minutes early, waiting for the manager is better than showing up late.

  • If offered water, take it; you could be talking for a while.

  • Cell phones - leave them in your bag on silent, even while you are waiting for the interview.

  • Always sit up and make plenty of eye contact with your interviewer.

  • Be confident, articulated and answer questions quickly and clearly.

  • Be ready to back up your answers with solid answers. For instance, if the interviewer asks you how you make a Manhattan and then ask why you do it that way; have a good reason why.

  • Shake the interviewers hand at the beginning and end of the interview, thank them for the opportunity.

Getting a job can be stressful, for both parties involved but it doesn't need to be. Managers are looking for experienced, passionate & knowledgeable staff to hire and job seekers are looking for an establishment to drive their ambitions, gain experience and learn more about this industry; when each side puts in the same amount of effort in creating a nurturing and symbiotic relationship, then all parties win.

For a final thought; my dad used to say "regardless of what you do, be the best at it". If you are going to make this industry your long term career, shouldn't you want to be the best at what you do, this all starts with interview.

Shawn Soole