December 29, 2015

How to find the right member of staff

You’ve opened your bar, you’ve created the ambience, you’ve stocked the spirits and products you want, and you’ve got it looking great. Now’s the bit that your business can hinge on. Now you need to find the right member of bar staff for the job.

It’s these fine men and women that will become your front line, the reason customers will come back to your venue again and again rather than somewhere else. You need to hire the best staff to fully realise your bars vision.

We know from experience that hiring staff too hastily can be more costly than you first realise.  If they have the wrong kinds of skills, or very little experience, this can drive away customers as well as leaving you needing to recruit and retrain again.

How to attract the right applicants for jobs at your venue

Like I said above, the venue has been your vision, and the way forward has to be clear in your head. You need to know what kind of person you want working with you (for you).  If you’re a rock venue, you’ll want someone with good chat and knowledge about rock music, if you’re an upmarket cocktail lounge, you will look for someone who presents themself well and delivers great service.

By showing your venues personality strongly, it will attract the people that feel most comfortable with the surroundings of your venue. So enjoy, be excited by and emphasis whatever it is that makes your venue stand out, and the right people will come to you.

Know and be clear about what you’re offering

Too many times, I’ve had someone go to their boss and say “that’s not my job”.  Firstly, unless you’re asking a KP to serve caviar, or a security doorman to dust the light fittings, job descriptions in our industry should be flexible. That being said, try to be as specific as you can with the day to day tasks that’ll be required by them, while stating that there will be flexibility in the tasks asked of them.

Chat about their tasks, and if there is a potential for additional related tasks to be added to their duties. e.g. will their duties as bartender, include shifts in the kitchen? Will the opening up duties include cleaning the entire venue or do you have cleaners?

It’ll be a lot easier to have these things detailed out before and during the interview, so everyone knows what to expect.

A photo posted by Sheldon (@__pauly_paul__) on

What training will you provide?

A big one that’s becoming more and more prominent is training.  Do you offer it? To what level will you offer it? For example, in Scotland it’s law that every single member of staff is trained in licensing laws by the licensee. But will you take training further, and go into; spirit history, cocktail making; brewing techniques, or flair? The more training that is specific to your bars vision the better.

If you decide to include training, and promote the fact that you will, this will help attract the right candidate. The more training you provide, the more you’ll put off time wasters from applying (where real star bartenders and employees will look forward to getting trained and becoming better at their job)

As you can see from our friends at Kained Holdings, who own a number of great venues in Glasgow, Scotland, they take training very seriously.  Giving very in depth courses for bartenders and chefs.

What to look for in staff

Experience is what most people look for, and yes, this is a great asset to have. I’d be willing to say that someone without experience, but who is eager, trustworthy, and has the same vision for your bar as you do, could be just as good if not better. There are no bad habits to get rid of.

Of course it is always helps if they know how to pull a pint, or are knowledgeable about a few cocktail recipes before starting.

Where to look for bar staff

Through friends and current employees

There are many places to start looking for bartenders, and as much as this is a job site for bartenders, it’s hard to beat a recommendation of a friend.  If you know people in the industry already (as I’m sure you do if you’re opening or managing a bar), then ask around for the people you trust for recommendations.

Through dedicated websites

I’d put a website like next in line to find your ideal bartender(s). Our web site is set up is so that you can browse and view bartenders who are available for hire. We’ve made contacting them easy, so if you think they fit the vision of your venue, then simply contact them and get them in for a trial shift.

We also allow you to post your bar job, and to be listed in our job directory. This sends out a notification to the many more bartenders in our system who have not chosen to create a visible CV profile. And also allows people who are not registered to see that you have a job and may apply to it.

All Bartenders also allows for venue profiles. If you post a job, this again will allow you to describe your ethos and your ideal staff member. Why and how they’d fit in to the team, and help you attract (rather than go searching for) the right bar team member

Ask for CVs

After these methods, I would be looking for / asking for CVs in your venue.  Putting a sign in your window and asking for CVs is a good way to get a lot of CVs, but this will undoubtedly give you more work than you bargained for.  People rarely come in at the right time that allows you to chat with them there and then. and if you do have time, there’s no method of pre-screening before you spend half an hour chatting with them.

What to ask in an interview

I’ve been asked this quite a lot, and I personally prefer to have an informal interview.  Understand the person, their hobbies and their values.  Before delving into experience and knowledge, is the person a good fit for the team? Will they add to the personality or clash with your vision for the venue?

Ultimately, will customers like them, and will they enjoy being around the other staff members (and you) for countless hours each day?


We hope this quick guide to recruiting the right bar staff helpful, and hope that you’ll post your jobs with us

All the best with your recruitment

Find the right member of staff - cheers