December 29, 2015

How to prepare for a bar job interview

From being in the bar and licensed trade since being able to pull a pint, I’ve known both sides of the interview table; what I’m looking for as an employer, and how nervous I felt as a 1st time interviewee.  Here, I’ll lay out a few tips help you to prepare for a bar job interview. Follow these tips to give yourself the best possible chance of getting that bar job.


Do I need bar experience to get a bar job?

Contrary to what you might think, bar work experience is not always essential.

Yes there are bartending positions that require a lot of experience, and others that require specific training, but many employers look for something before these qualities. Often these are qualities that cant be taught.

Pick the right venue to work in, and get ready to show your personality to the interviewer

You need to ask yourself if you will you are happy to work in the venue. Do you fit in well with the ethos of the venue? Will you gel with the other staff members? How will you get on with the customers? You’ll be spending a lot of time here, so make sure it’s a good fit for you. (athletic ability not essential, but it is important to get ready to let the interviewer know all about you :)) 

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Are you trustworthy and reliable?

Can you be relied upon to turn up for your shift on time, and ready to work every time? Can you be trusted to be the customer facing front line and represent the venue in the best possible light? If you can think of a few examples of these scenarios you’ve previously had to prove that you’re the right person for the job, you’ll stand a good chance of success.


Are you someone who will do tasks that need done without being asked? (Such as mop the floor when there’s been a spill) When the venue is quiet, will you reset and prepare your station quickly and efficiently so that you’re ready for the rush?

The easiest way to vouch for any of these items are of course to have experience or references, which I do understand is a catch22. Though if you don’t have relevant references, do you have references from working a paper round, volunteering, or helping organise events at school / college / uni?

So basically, No. You don’t need experience, but having someone of authority to vouch for you will help confirm to the interviewer that you’re the right candidate.  During your interview try to convey that you are confident, outgoing, sociable person.  If you’re not, you may want to think about a job in a different industry

Prepare For The Interview

If you’ve got an interview with a bar / restaurant that you’ve never visited as a customer, it’s best to try and brush up on your knowledge of them. Take a look at their website, Facebook, instagram and any other social media outlet they use. Get a feel for the ambience and tone they go for.

What kind of venue is it?

Are they a student bar, traditional English pub, or high class cocktail lounge? Ensure that you are comfortable with the style of bar you’re applying to. Remember you’ll be spending many hours working there surrounded by the staff and customers they already have.  Dress appropriately for the venue, and if in doubt, edge on the side of smarter, not more casual.

Read up on what they specialise in.

If they’re a cocktail bar, do you know at least basic cocktail recipes? Could you learn some of their signature recipes before the interview? By showing knowledge specialised to what the venue is looking for, this will stand you in good stead and emphasise willingness and your character.

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Think of examples.

You’ll no doubt be asked; “tell me about yourself”, “why do you want to work here?”, “what do you enjoy about the industry?”, “how would you deal with a disturbing customer?”.  Have some answers ready for these, so you are prepared to answer them easily. They may also ask you some random questions to throw you off (and break the ice), such as, “what’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you recently?” These ones are impossible to prepare for, but take them as a good light-hearted chat, keep smiling and take a moment to think of your answer.

Think of questions.

Often at the end of an interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions for them. Sometimes the right question here shows that you’ve been reading up on the company and know your stuff.  If you decide to ask a question, make it relevant to the venue. Whether it’s about a charity it supports, or an award they were nominated for, make it relevant.

On the Day of Interview

 It goes without saying, but try to relax. The more at ease you are, the better your character will shine through.

  • Make sure you know the date, time and location of the interview
  • Know how and when you’re going to get there.  Whether by public transport or where you’ll park if you’re driving.
  • Make sure you arrive with time to spare
  • Wear something comfortable, and smart. Possibly leaning toward the style that the venue takes on
  • Take the minimum amount of baggage with you. Physically and mentally, arrive with nothing else to concentrate on except for the interview.
  • Silly to remind you, but ensure you’ve been to the toilet beforehand. Nothing worse than having that to think about as well, so make sure it’s taken care of.
  • Smile, say please and thank you, sit up straight and shoulders towards the interviewer.  You may think it sounds silly, but body language and politeness can factor hugely here.
  • Remember to turn off your phone!

Do You Feel Prepared?

More often than not, interviews for bar jobs are a lot less formal than those for other industries, where personality and charisma shine through.  So first and foremost, try to enjoy and be excited by the prospect of working where you’re having the interview.

This could be the most fun you’ve ever had.  All the best with your new career.

Good luck at your bar job interview