You need staff and you need them now. We hear you. Use Cluboid’s compilation of killer interview questions to quickly find those bar bright sparks, and completely half your staff turnover time.

Bar Staff Interview Questions

We all know that sometimes barwork can get pretty manic. It’s a Saturday night, you’re at capacity, some wise guys are kicking off on the door, the toilets have backed up, and one girl’s just spilt a tray of drinks all over the floor right in front of the bar - Nightmare. In this instance, you want your staff to be unflappable and quick-thinking. To prioritise and act immediately. This is exactly why knowing what to ask your potential candidates can save you valuable time and resources.

Why spend 20 minutes hearing where they’ve previously worked? That’s exactly what a CV is for - this is your opportunity to get an insight into their personality. Some skills and abilities don’t translate through Microsoft Word.

The service and nightlife industry is constantly evolving and consequently, one of the most exciting businesses you can get stuck into. It also means that staff turnover is unfortunately, pretty high so recruitment can seem like a never-ending process. You gain one, but oh look, you lost one more to university along the way. Managers are always seemingly on the hunt for staff. So the question is:

Bar staff interview questions 1

'How do you routinely nab the best possible applicants time and time again?'

One way of doing this is to throw in some major creative curve balls. Questions that your interviewees wouldn’t have even considered preparing responses to - this is where you elicit the most sincere and telling information for your cause. ‘Like what?’ you may be thinking. Let Cluboid share with you 5 of our favourite interview questions for erudite bar recruitment:

Begin to relax your interviewee by asking them to discuss something comfortable and close to their heart, i.e. passions or interests. You might ask them ‘If you’ve got the night off, where would you chose to spend it?’ If they’re smart, they’ll immediately want to demonstrate knowledge of the scene and not offer up a ‘relaxing at home’ response. In the nightclub and bar business, you will prosper from taking on an employee with an awareness and knowledge of what’s around. It will help you inject fresh and current ideas that will help stay on top of your competitors- they’ll be a wonderful addition to a brainstorming session. It can also help you get a sense of whether this candidate will integrate nicely with your current team, working alongside them to drive the business forward. The last thing you need is an HR issue rearing it’s head because you failed to consider social dynamic.

Role-playing can also convey a lot, and even the least theatrical of bartenders should be able to get stuck in here.. Try telling them: 'I’ve just ordered a rail drink. Talk me into upgrading to top shelf'. It is all about the upsale, as bartending is not only a customer service role, but a sales one too. You want to assess your candidate's charm offensive, because as we all know, a cheeky and charming bartender can get away with murder and will do wonders for your sales numbers. How quickly they respond to this is also an indication of suitability. Someone that gets on with it without too much faffing will be a great addition to a bar team, because it indicates they are efficient and adaptable.

If they are active on social media, you could consider enquiring ‘How many followers do you have on Twitter/Instagram?’ A larger than average following generally indicates that they are interesting, and post things which other people respond to and engage with. Aside from that, those with this kind of pull can provide major marketing potential. Even by adding their job title to their Facebook page, you’ll increase your page clickthroughs through exposure. Clickthroughs provide the potential for sales conversions and new customers that may not have come across your venue before otherwise. There is a lot to be said for social reach, and a candidate with a broad social circle will certainly not hurt your cause. Your marketing will become a whole load more effective purely by having someone with social influence on your side. Maintaining lots of friendships and connections can also be hard work, so their ability to do so shows great zest, energy and enthusiasm. These types of people aren’t generally the kind who are known for being bone idle either, so will roll up their sleeves and get stuck in at work where necessary. A true team-player.

Bar staff interview questions 2

If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can approach your interviewee for feedback, by asking: ‘What don’t you like about my outfit?’ This is clearly the most daring of the questions but does induce an extremely telling reaction. Not only will it display how the candidate responds to direct confrontation, and how they respect and interact with their upline, but it is an opportunity for them to demonstrate tact and how well they can diffuse a potentially negative interaction which, in bar work, is a very handy skill. It will also tell you a lot about how forthcoming they can be with feedback and implementing ideas. Ideas that your business could prosper from.

Bar staff interview questions 3

This glorious industry is an exciting, unpredictable nightmare, incorporate any (or all!) of these 4 examples into your interview to quickly establish what your interviewee is made of. Mix them in with a few traditional questions - i.e. asking about a circumstance where they showed problem solving skill - for the most effective bar interview possible. Ensure your recruitment skill can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, finding you nothing but great staff equipped to handle every hospitality curveball thrown their way. If you do it right, your staff won’t only handle that curveball, they’ll bat it clean out of the park.

About the Author

Indiana West is a regular writer at Cluboid focused on helping large and small businesses achieve better bookings and reservations.

You can read more posts by Indiana on our blog.

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