Updated on August 17th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 30
How do you treat customers on special occasions, like birthdays and bachelorette parties?
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Entry Level Example
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How to Answer
Customers want to feel special when celebrating a fun event like an upcoming wedding, a birthday, or even a divorce party. When they walk into the bar wearing that tiara and sash, it's up to you to help make their night more enjoyable. Do you give out free shots for the bridal party or do you show off your flare? What will you do to entertain your customers and offer the best service to keep them coming back?
"I always address my customers by name, show them respect and listen to them. For special occasions, I like to make a shot especially for the person celebrating. I ask them what they like, and I put on a little show to make them feel special. Throughout the night I check in with them to make sure they have everything they need."
Entry Level Example
"Customers who are celebrating a special occasion should be treated well because chances are they are going to come back if they remember having a great time! If the bar allows, I would promo one round of shots or give a family/friends discount on their bill. I could even create a signature cocktail, for purchase, for their party and name it after the bride-to-be! Nobody forgets an experience like that."
"I like to go by the policy of the bar for which I am working. Some bars will allow me to promo a round of shots while others do not. If it's a bachelorette party, women are flirty and want a lot of attention. I'll introduce them to other patrons who will likely buy them rounds of shots, and I will always buy the bride-to-be a fun shot."
Depending upon your resources, you may have prepared this drink in its purest form: Kahlua, vodka, and cream.
If you have a preference for the type of liqueur or garnish, do share! There are many different recipes you can try. Do your research and determine your favorite way to prepare a White Russian so you can impress the bar manager!
"I became obsessed with White Russians after seeing the movie, The Big Lebowski, for the first time. Jeff Bridges is my hero, so I started drinking White Russians after this movie came out. I make mine in a rocks glass filled to the top with ice cubes. I add 1 part vodka, 1 part heavy cream, and 1 part Kahlua. I do prefer to use top-shelf vodka whenever possible as it's a smoother finish."
Entry Level Example
"I believe that a White Russian is one shot Kahlua, one shot vodka, topped with milk. Is this how you prefer a White Russian be made?"
"I am well versed on how to make a traditional White Russian. 1 part Kahlua, 1 part vodka, 1 part cream and lots of ice! I like to put my twist on the drink by using espresso flavored vodka. It's delicious!"
This is a coveted bartending gig. Why should we hire you?
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Entry Level Example
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Pressure is on! The interviewer takes a lot of pride in their bar, and they are not willing to settle for just anyone. If you don't have the length of experience and an impressive skillset, you still have a chance. Think about your transferable skills. These are skills that you gained from working other jobs that might not be relevant to this one.
Skills like money handling, customer service, and time management are all worth sharing because they apply directly to the job. Also, give examples of how you have gone above and beyond in a previous position give you extra points. Show off how you have proven yourself reliable and trustworthy, two qualities that can be hard to find in the service industry.
"When I read the job description, I laughed because it was as though you had written it with me in mind. I know that I am the best candidate for this role because I have three years of professional bartending at your strongest industry competitor. I am certified and trained in the art of bartending. I understand the importance of upselling, as well."
Entry Level Example
"I'm a certified professional bartender and passionate about customer service. I am excited about the idea of creating a fresh cocktail menu, as mentioned in your job ad, and will hustle for the opportunity to go above and beyond for your bar."
"You should hire me because I am unlike anyone else you have interviewed before. When I started with my current retail sales company, I was the youngest salesperson they had ever hired. That didn't stop me from becoming the #1 sales person in the company within six months. I am dedicated to customer service. Since becoming a professional bartender, I have been wholly engaged in this industry. I am currently writing a creative cocktail e-book too!"
A Whiskey Sour is one of those traditional drinks that is simple enough that you should know how to make it. It can also be jazzed up a bit with fancy add-ons and garnishes. Most bars use a sour mix and whiskey, but you could show off your fancy pants skills by using lemon juice and powdered sugar! It depends on the bar. If it's an upscale bar, you want to show your expertise, even with the simplest of cocktails. Research recipes and give it a whirl!
"A Whiskey Sour is a great drink, so simple to make, yet so fun to dress up when needed. In it, is two parts whiskey, 2/3 an ounce of lemon juice, and some fine sugar. I put all three ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake gently, then strain into a highball glass. In my current bar, I garnish with a burnt lemon rind for an added twist."
Entry Level Example
"I learned how to make a classic Whiskey Sour in bartending school. In a shaker with ice goes two parts whiskey, less than an ounce of lemon juice and table sugar. I strain this into a chilled highball glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry."
"When making a Whiskey Sour, I much prefer to use fresh lemon versus lemon juice. In an ice-filled shaker I will mix a half a lemon's worth of juice, two parts whiskey and a teaspoon of sugar. I prefer to garnish my Whiskey Sours with a traditional wedge of lemon and a maraschino cherry."
How many different types of martinis do you know how to make? If you're struggling on this one, you may want to spend some time practicing different martini recipes. What makes it dirty? Olive juice!
Some people like their martini real dirty, which means extra olive juice and sometimes extra olives. You will need to be prepared for the variations of martinis, so it may be best to hit up the liquor store and gather your ingredients. Don't forget the olives!
"A good Dirty Martini is enough to put some hair on one's chest! To make a dirty martini, you need vodka or gin, dry vermouth, and olive juice. Rather than using a shaker, I use a glass filled to the brim with ice. To this glass, I add 2.5 parts vodka (or gin), a half ounce of dry vermouth, and a half ounce of olive juice. I then stir and strain into a chilled martini glass with a 3 olive garnish."
Entry Level Example
"Dirty Martini's are fun to make! In a shaker with ice, I add 2.5 parts vodka, 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth and a 1/2 ounce of olive juice. Shake, and add to a chilled martini glass with an olive garnish. That's a basic recipe. Some customers prefer even more olive brine!"
"Olive brine, olive brine, olive brine! Can you believe I once had a bartender make a dirty martini for me with pickle juice?? It was pretty nasty, but I had to applaud her improvisation. In a glass with ice, I add 2 ounces of vodka or gin, a half ounce of dry vermouth and a little under an ounce of olive brine. I'll stir with a metal stir stick, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Don't forget the olives as a garnish!"
6. How do you decide which customers to serve first when the bar is packed? Imagine you are standing behind the bar with your co-worker and swarms of rowdy customers surround you. Where do you start? Can you make out any of the words? Usually, when someone wants a drink they will make themselves known, so you have to start somewhere. You could take one end of the bar while your coworker takes the other side. Or you could just pay attention and work your way through the crowd at random. As long as you don't get overwhelmed, and are sure to maintain your groove with confidence, you will be just fine. Here is an answer example: "I give priority to the customers who have their money out and are making eye contact with me. Someone may be there first who is on their phone and not paying attention. I don't interrupt them from their phone because I assume they aren't ready to place their drink order." Here is an entry level answer example: "I have not experienced working in such a busy environment, but I am excited about the opportunity! If I had many customers waiting for a drink, I would treat it by first customer ready to order. Some customers may be ready to order, and others may just be standing at the bar, chatting. You have to be able to differentiate between the two customer types." Here is an experienced answer example: "I serve the customers that make eye contact with me, indicating that they are ready to put in their drink order!"7. If you see a fight start across the bar, do you act or do you wait until the bouncers take care of it? Even though it's not technically your job to break up fights, if you don't take action to ensure the safety of the customers, there could be even more trouble.
You won't want to answer with an "always" statement because it depends on the situation and the protocol of the establishments which you have worked. Assure the bar manager that you are proactive and take action to secure the area. Here is an answer example: "always" Here is an entry level answer example: "I understand that every bar will have their own set of rules when it comes to employees jumping into fights that break out. What is your policy here?" Here is an experienced answer example: "I had broken up my share of fights when I was a bouncer at a nightclub. I am capable of controlling a fight; however, I prefer that the current bouncers are left the room to do their job."8. How do you make an Irish Car Bomb? A tummy filled with Guinness, Irish cream and whiskey is undoubtedly a bomb waiting to go off! So how do tenderly prepare this shot in a way that makes the party chant for more? Here is an answer example: "When making an Irish Car Bomb, I start with the shot. First, I pour the whiskey. Second I carefully layer the Irish cream on top. Then, I pour a stout glass about half full of Guinness. Then, bombs away!" Here is an entry level answer example: "Irish Car Bombs are tough to make, and I am still working on my layering technique. I understand that to make one; I need to layer the Irish cream on top of the whiskey in a shot glass. The patron then drops the shot into a stout glass of Guinness." Here is an experienced answer example: "I think these shots are the only way that I kept warm while living in Canada! The name of this shot is controversial, so I do warn others not to order these everywhere you go...especially Ireland! This shot is simple to make but packs a hard punch. First, I pour a stout glass with Guinness, about half full. While the foam is settling on the Guinness, I will pour a half shot of Bailey's Irish Cream, then layer a half shot of Canadian whiskey over the top."9. Do you enjoy socializing with strangers? Have you ever met a bartender who didn't seem to want to engage any customers and seemed mildly irritated any time you asked for something? Of course staying confident and friendly with customers at all times can be challenging, but it is the nature of the beast. You are on ALL the time. Assure the interviewer that you have an interest in the customers. Here is an answer example: "I'm outgoing and love meeting new people. Whether I'm at work or out with friends, I enjoy making conversation and getting to know others. Everyone has a story and I think it's fun to ask questions and listen. You never know how interesting people can be!" Here is an entry level answer example: "I am a naturally social person. My customers love to talk to me, and they appreciate the ear as well." Here is an experienced answer example: "I care about my customers and show this by listening and actively participating in a conversation with them. I'm authentic and have great people skills."10. Tell me about the garnishes you enjoy using for various cocktails. Cherries and olives and basil, oh my! There are limitless options of ways you can enhance the appearance and the flavor of a drink through simple garnishes.
Give a few examples of your favorite cocktails with garnishes to show off your knowledge and expertise. Think about ways you can jazz up your average Bloody Mary. And what makes your Mojito so unique? It's all about the way you make the drink.
Fun fact: Do you know why it's essential to give basil a good smack with your palm before you serve it in a drink? This is because it unleashes the aroma and impacts the flavor released into the drink. Wow your interviewer by showing them your interest and knowledge of garnishes through basic research and trying them out on your friends. Here is an answer example: "I like to make fun garnishes like citrus and herb-infused salts for margaritas, herbed ice cubes, and edible stir sticks. There are so many fun ways to dress up a cocktail." Here is an entry level answer example: "At this point in my bartending career, I have used the usual garnishes such as lemon and lime wedges, citrus twists, olives, cherries, and spicy marinated beans. I look forward to working with a cocktail-driven bar like yours where I can experiment more with garnishes like Grand Marnier soaked cherries, and infused ice cubes." Here is an experienced answer example: "I enjoy playing around with garnishes. The last garnish idea I incorporated into our summer cocktail menu were house-made lollipops for cosmopolitans. They acted like a fun stir stick too. I also have our kitchen make candied fruit strips."11. When you go above and beyond for a customer and they don't tip well, how do you handle it? If you have worked in the service industry before, you know that even some of the seemingly most pleasant people are terrible tippers. However, if you make a point to provide fast, seamless customer service to every person who walks through the door you have a better chance of getting tipped generously.
If the interviewer asks you this question, assure them that you give excellent service regardless of the tip percentage. When someone tips poorly, you just brush it off knowing your hard work will be rewarded, even though it may not be in the form of a generous tip every time. Here is an answer example: "One of my most memorable customers was an elderly gentleman who would sit at my bar every day from 3PM -5PM before going home to make dinner. He drank two vodkas on the rocks and had some great stories to tell. He always tipped just .25 cents, and I thought it was adorable. You don't know everyone's financial situation, and it was more important to me that he had somewhere comfortable to come when he was feeling lonely." Here is an entry level answer example: "Not everyone is a great tipper, and others are excellent tippers. It all works out in the end, and I don't take it personally." Here is an experienced answer example: "That's a great question! When I was new to the service industry, this bothered me because I took it personally. I would think 'Did I do something wrong?'. The truth is, I knew I was doing a great job! Now, it doesn't' bother me in the slightest. I am great at what I do, and if a customer doesn't always appreciate my craft, that's okay with me."12. Tell me about your previous bartending experience. The interviewer is not asking for you to list your past jobs in chronological order with all of your responsibilities. They are only interested in a brief history, highlighting the relevant work you have done.
If you don't think you've done any work that is relevant to bartending, take some time to review your work history. Think about those transferable skills that you acquired from a job in customer service, for instance. Here is an answer example: "I have three years' experience bartending at the competing pub, across the street from your establishment. I started as a bar assistant, then a backup bartender and now I am a senior bartender." Here is an entry level answer example: "I have not worked as a bartender in the past; however, I have worked as a bar assistant for the past nine months. My duties as a bar assistant include ensuring the bar is fully stocked, running for ice, replenishing the garnishes, and general clean up. I am ready for this next step in my bar career." Here is an experienced answer example: "I have worked as a bartender for the past four years. Two years I spent in a local Irish pub, and two at a nightclub. It's been an incredibly lucrative career path for me, and I look forward to continuing this path at your establishment."13. How do you make a Cosmopolitan Martini? The cosmo is a favorite drink, so you had better know the necessary ingredients, which are vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and a splash of lime.
If you have a unique way of making a killer cosmo, explain those subtle differences to your interviewer. Here is an answer example: "I am a traditionalist, so I do prefer making Cosmopolitan Martinis in its original state with vodka, triple sec, cran, and lime. I may ask my customer if they prefer their cosmo on the sweet or sourer side. Also, I skip the sugar and garnish with just a twist of lime." Here is an entry level answer example: "From my understanding, a Cosmopolitan Martini is made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime juice. Sometimes the glass is rimmed with sugar, and it's usually served with a lime twist." Here is an experienced answer example: "The cosmo was made famous by my favorite show, Sex and the City! Who could forget how to make one? I can make a cosmo the traditional way with vodka, Cointreau, cranberry, and lime juice. Also, I have a little fun and add fresh cranberries and a dash of sugar for my customers who aren't cosmo purists."14. Why did you leave your last bartending job? Turnover isn't rare in the bar industry, but the interviewer still needs to ask, to ensure that you haven't burned any bridges or been fired for stealing. Share why you chose to leave while only talking positively about your co-workers and the establishment where you last worked.
You may state that you needed to submit your resignation because your next semester school schedule would not align with their needs. Or, you may say that the establishment closed their doors. Be sure to mention something that you really liked about the job, and share that you are excited to get back to bartending. Here is an answer example: "My last position was great - I liked it. Unfortunately, they were purchased by a larger restaurant group, and our whole team was laid off. This is why I am seeking a new opportunity." Here is an entry level answer example: "I just graduated from bartending school and look forward to my first bartending gig! This position is a dream opportunity for me." Here is an experienced answer example: "I worked as a bartender at a nightclub for the past four years. I left because the atmosphere was no longer healthy for me. I am now seeking an opportunity where I can work in a more relaxed environment with regular customers and potentially an older crowd. Your pub is an establishment that I regularly come to on my days off, so I know it is much more my vibe."15. How do you avoid serving to minors? As the Alcohol Beverage Commission cracks down more and more on restaurants and bars, there is more pressure to stay within their standards.
First and foremost, you need to be extra careful when checking ID's! It may also be a general rule of thumb that you are cautious not to over-serve your customers no matter what age. Specifically, when it comes to minors, you will need to be consistent in checking ID's and if you're not sure, ask your manager or another co-worker to help you evaluate. Here is an answer example: "Times of fake ID's have certainly changed since I was in high school! In my current position, we do have a doorman who checks the ID's of everyone who looks under 30. We also have blue light technology to detect fake identifications." Here is an entry level answer example: "To avoid serving minors, I would be sure to check the ID of everyone who appears under 30 years old. Do you have a doorman or any other way of filtering through customers as they enter your establishment?" Here is an experienced answer example: "I think it's so much harder to control minors these days! For starters, there are many ways to fake identification. Teens look so much more mature these days. Every 17-year-old girl looks like Kim Kardashian now. When I was 17, we all looked like Annie hahaha! I will ID everyone who looks under 30. I don't hesitate to ask."16. Your drawer is $44.21 short, how would you explain this? What would you do to correct something like this in the future? Mistakes happen. Unfortunately, they can cost you out of pocket, depending on the rules of your bar. Those busy nights can be chaotic, and you could make a mistake when counting money and offering change, only because you are moving so quickly. The interviewer wants to know that if you make a mistake, you own up to it and correct it. Explain your thought process in addressing a situation like this and show them how you have proven yourself reliable and trustworthy in the past. Here is an answer example: "If my drawer was short, I would recount a couple of times to make sure the amount is accurate. Then I would check credit card slips and search the cash drawer to see if anything slipped through the cracks. I would try to find out why it happened first. Immediately, I would take the $44.21 out of my tips. For the long-term solution, I would pay closer attention to my cash paying customers." Here is an entry level answer example: "I certainly hope this wouldn't happen because I would hate to lose out on taking that cash home in tips! If my drawer were short, I would first recount, check under the drawer, and then ensure I didn't mistake a cash receipt as a credit card receipt. I would ask a coworker to recount as well if someone were available." Here is an experienced answer example: "I haven't been short in my cash out for many months. I like to take home every dollar that I earn, so I am extra diligent when it comes to balancing my drawer, taking cash, and giving change."17. If your car broke down on the way to work, what would you do? This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you are wise and do not allow these unplanned situations to get the best of you.
Start off by telling the interviewer that you would assess how much time you have until your shift starts. Taking into account this amount of time, you would call/text a couple of friends or family members to see if they could get you to work on time. If they are unavailable, you would call for a cab, take city transportation, or walk depending on how far away you are.
Finally, be sure to mention that you would call the restaurant to let them know what happened if you will be arriving a few minutes late due to the setback. Here is an answer example: "If my car broke down, I would immediately call the bar to let someone know the situation. I would then call a tow truck to take my car to the nearest mechanic. From there, I would take a cab to work. I rely on the money I make each shift so, rest assured, I would not skip out on a shift unless I were hospitalized!" Here is an entry level answer example: "My father raised me to believe that if I am not ten minutes early for work, I am late. I would be very diligent to get to work on time, regardless of my car breaking down." Here is an experienced answer example: "This has happened to me before! When my car broke down, I called a coworker who lived across the street and asked them to fill in for me until I could get there. I ended up being only 1 hour late for my shift which was a relief."18. How do you use your time on a slow shift? The interviewer is looking to see if you plan to be on your cell phone in between customers or if you're willing to put in a bit of extra work. There is always something to do, even if it's just practicing your flaring technique. Stocking the bar, cutting limes, and planning the bar menu needs to happen before you're too busy with customers. When you've exhausted your options, take the time to learn new drinks, experiment with different garnishes and combinations. Use your time wisely! Show the bar manager that you are motivated and won't be caught sitting around on the job when there's work to do! Here is an answer example: "I rarely see a slow shift; however, when there is a lull I take that time to restock the bar garnishes, cut limes, and ensure the bar area is extra tidy." Here is an entry level answer example: "I am not a fan of sitting still so if there is a lull in my day I always want to fill it with some extra cleaning, or any other needs that my coworkers may have. I understand that, as a bartender, there are always things I can be doing to help out the team or get ready for the next wave of customers." Here is an experienced answer example: "I am a big fan of cleanliness and being overprepared. For that reason, I will use any slower times to cut limes, restock the bar napkins, shine glasses, and wipe counters. If there is a newer bartender, I will help them practice some of their techniques or quiz them on cocktail recipes. There is always something to do."19. Explain the differences between a wheat beer, a pale ale and an IPA? Customers will ask for recommendations based on their beer preferences. Often they'll say things like, "Give me something light," which usually means they want something like an American Lager. Do you know the spectrum of flavors and styles of beer? If not, do a little research.
You'll need to know the words to describe the types of beers as well. Wheat beers tend to have more of a citrus flavor, and IPA's are characterized as "hoppy," with a piney flavor. If you want to know your beers, you'll need to be able to talk about aroma, body and finish too! Beer is just as complicated as wine. Study the different types, and you'll be amazed at the complexity of beer. Here is an answer example: "Give me something light," Here is an entry level answer example: "Currently, I am working on a fuller knowledge of beers. They are very complex, and the variety is vast. From my understanding, an IPA is a more bitter taste, quite hoppy and sometimes cloudy. A pale ale is usually a light gold color and tends to taste more woody. Then, a wheat ale is a bit hazy due to the protein in the wheat. These tend to be lighter. I love wheat beers in the summer." Here is an experienced answer example: "If I had to explain these three beer types to a customer, I would say that wheat beer is a great summer drink. It's more citrusy and light. A pale ale is more on the amber color side, and it's quite hoppy. However, hoppiest of all is an IPA. Depending on the brewer, and IPA can be quite bitter in the finish."20. Are you flexible to work any shift? Bartenders always arrive early and stay late, and their schedules usually rotate. That is how the job works. Bartending is not just about doing fun tricks when you serve drinks. You also have to close out, clean up, and prep the bar before opening. There is a lot of work that goes into it behind the scenes. Are you prepared to be available and flexible, as needed? Here is an answer example: "I am happy to take any shifts that are available to me. In my current position, I work Thursday through Sunday, from 2 PM to 2 AM. Do you have a particular schedule in mind for this role?" Here is an entry level answer example: "As I am newer to my career as a bartender, I understand that I may need to take the less desirable shifts until I prove my skills here. I am more than willing to take any shifts you have for me. Do you have an example of a starting schedule?" Here is an experienced answer example: "I currently work Wednesday through Saturday from 3 PM to 1 AM. I prefer to work a schedule like this as it works well with my university course load. Could you share with me what you have in mind?"21. What is your favorite drink with vodka? There's no right or wrong answer here. This is just an opportunity to share how you make your favorite vodka beverage. Explain your process starting from the chilled glass to how it's garnished. Be creative! Rather than talking about how much you love Cape Cods, try explaining a drink that's a bit more complicated and takes more time and care to create it, like a Lemon Drop Martini or a Cucumber Fizz. Vodka is one of the most versatile liquors, so show off your skills and give the interviewer a taste of your style. Here is an answer example: Here is an entry level answer example: "I have a few favorites to drink, and a few favorites to create! I have recently been learning the art of floating and discovered this great drink called the Harvey Wallbanger. I believe it was a big hit during the '70's disco era! This drink calls for 1 part vodka, 3 parts orange juice, and a half ounce of Galliano L'Autentico. Galliano is a sweet, herb-based Italian liquor. In a tall glass filled with ice, I add the vodka and orange juice and stir. Then, I float the Galliano on top. Finally, I garnish with an orange slice." Here is an experienced answer example: "I am well versed in making complicated vodka drinks, but I always prefer the simplicity of a delicious Moscow Mule in the summer. It's a delicious drink, but I also feel that serving it in the classic copper mug adds to the magic. In a copper mug full of ice, I add 2 parts vodka, 3 parts ginger beer, and half a fresh squeezed lime. Last, I garnish with a lime wedge."22. What techniques do you use to upsell? You may think that bartenders are not in the business of sales, but that is untrue! For the bartender who thinks in dollar signs, this means the more sales, the more tips.
Before you start your shift, you may want to agree upon the specials and be thinking of how you can suggest them to your customers. If your bar serves food, you'll want to be familiar with the menu so that you can recommend dishes that pair well with the drinks your customer's order. Perhaps you suggest top-shelf instead of well. Here is an answer example: "I am great with upselling my customers or pushing the latest specials. If a customer asks for an IPA, and we have a similar local craft brew available, I will suggest that they try it. Local craft pints sell at our bar for an additional $1.50 which adds up at the end of the day!" Here is an entry level answer example: "I think that the best way to upsell as a bartender would be to recommend a cocktail before the wine and food are delivered to the table. This upsell technique would require a strong knowledge of the menu." Here is an experienced answer example: "To upsell, I always recommend top-shelf liquor. We have a lot of gin drinkers in my current establishment. We sell the well gin for $4/shot, and it's Gordon's gin. We also sell Hendricks gin for $8/shot. I have a few of our regulars hooked on Hendricks, soda, and a slice of cucumber. Some people prefer the unique taste and find the small splurge to be quite nice."23. How do you feel about serving drinks in a heavy volume environment? Can you handle the pressure of a packed bar of demanding patrons shouting over one another? Are you able to remember drink orders when they are consistently being shouted at you? In all of this excitement are you also able to have a conversation with a patron, give correct change, and keep a smile on your face? You must be a master of multi-tasking! Here is an answer example: "I enjoy working in a fast-paced environment. It's a challenge, but that makes it more fun. I enjoy the energy and the adrenaline working behind the bar of a busy establishment." Here is an entry level answer example: "If you're new to bartending, you might want to ask for a couple of slower shifts to learn and improve your skills.
For example: "I am well prepared when it comes to making drinks correctly. Also, my experience in retail and customer service will help me a great deal when it comes to talking with customers and giving correct change. If possible, I would love to start with a couple of slower shifts and work my way into the busier nights. Would this be possible?" Here is an experienced answer example: "The more, the merrier! Bars and clubs are supposed to be busy, so I am happy to accommodate the volume. I have worked as a bartender for many years, and you won't be disappointed in the quality of service that I deliver."24. Do you have any flaring techniques? Do you even know what flaring is? Well, you should! Flaring is a way to entertain guests and creatively serve drinks. Have you ever watched a bartender juggle liquor bottles from behind the bar while he was making your drink? That was flaring! If you have no flaring techniques, this is something you can practice at home. Watch videos and hone your skills. If you want to stand out, take the time to learn cool techniques, like ice throwing or palm spins! Not sure what that means? Do some research and practice! Here is an answer example: "Yes, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve! My favorite flaring techniques include the jigger tap, the tin roll, and the classic napkin drop. I am working on a few new ones as well involving flaming shots." Here is an entry level answer example: "I am currently practicing the basics of flaring in bartending school such as the napkin drop and the jigger tap. I look forward to learning more advanced techniques." Here is an experienced answer example: "I love to play with flaming shots when allowed. You could say that my specialty is the Flaming B52! For safer and less complicated flare, I also play with the bar tools like my jigger and martini cup. The hinge cut is a fun technique to utilize while pouring a spirit."25. Besides making drinks, what roles do you think bartenders serve? People go to bars for many reasons, but mostly they are interested in meeting new people and drinking around other people. Sometimes they want to be social with their friends, and sometimes they need a friend. When this situation arises, your role is simply just to listen. As inhibitions go down, people open up. You may find yourself playing therapist with a regular who needs someone to talk to about life. The bartender sees and hears a lot and has a different perspective on people based on their observations. Think about your experiences on both sides of the bar. What do you think about the many roles of the bartender? Here is an answer example: "A bartender wears many hats, indeed! I am a friend, a therapist, a housekeeper, and a bartender - all rolled into one! The fact that the role is so diverse is what keeps me in this line of work." Here is an entry level answer example: "I understand that a bartender will need to be many things including an ear for those who need it, extra help for the serving staff, and even a bouncer depending on the environment of the establishment where they work. I look forward to the diversity in this career path." Here is an experienced answer example: "Bartenders do it all! In my career as a bartender, I have been a server, a bouncer, a hostess, a housekeeper, a busser, and a listening ear to my customers drowning their sorrows. Every day is different, and I appreciate that about this job."26. How do you make a Washington Apple? Whenever the interviewer asks you how to make a shot, it's an opportunity for you to show off your knowledge and your technique. Let your personality shine through. It's not just about knowing the drinks. If you simply explain the ingredients and how to mix it all together, you're selling yourself short. It's all about the delivery. Romanticize it! Here is an answer example: "Even though I move rapidly as I make my shots, I still take care to pour the right amount of whiskey, apple pucker and cranberry juice to taste. I shake with ice, and pour!" Here is an entry level answer example: "From my understanding, a Washington Apple is made with whiskey, apple pucker, and a splash of cranberry juice. It's a delicious shot!" Here is an experienced answer example: "First I prefer to use Canadian whiskey. It has a smokier taste that adds a new layer of interest to the shot. Then, equal parts sour apple schnapps and cranberry juice. I shake this over ice, pour into a shot glass, then top with a quick spurt of soda water to add a slight fizz."27. Explain to me how you properly stir a cocktail. Did you know that the way you stir a drink will affect the way it tastes? If you did not do this already, look it up! The type of glass and whether it is chilled, when you add water, all of these things will affect how the drink turns out. So do yourself a favor and explore the technique of stirring a cocktail. Here is an answer example: "I am happy that you mention stirring versus shaking. Too many cocktails are unnecessarily shaken. A metal bar spoon is a must-have for any bar, and I use this for every spirit based drink, in a glass of ice." Here is an entry level answer example: "I stir a cocktail with a metal bar spoon, ensuring that the ice can mix in with the drink." Here is an experienced answer example: "I know that everyone thinks all cocktails need to be shaken but that simply isn't true. I make sure to stir any drinks that are spirit based, and shaking only those with juice, egg, or dairy. When stirring, I start with a glass of ice. The water is necessary for the cocktail to blend properly from a molecular perspective. Using a metal bar spoon, I will stir the drink for about one minute."28. How do you make a Johnny Vegas drink? This drink combines tequila, watermelon pucker, and Red Bull. If you've never made it before, look up the recipe! Order one at a bar and see if it tastes the same. There are so many new and unique blends of cocktails these days, so you need to be up to date. Read magazines and blogs to learn about the latest trending cocktails. Here is an answer example: "Johnny Vegas drinks are a fun one, but I know that I need to be careful where they are made as some regions to not legally allow the direct mixing of Red Bull into a drink. For a classic Johnny Vegas, you need 1 part tequila, 1/2 part watermelon liquor, top with Red Bull. This can be served in a cocktail glass or shaken and strained into a couple of shot glasses." Here is an entry level answer example: "I know Johnny Vegas as a shot but understand it can be served as a cocktail as well. Like a shot, I will add, to an ice-filled shaker, one part tequila, half part watermelon liquor. Shake, strain into a shot glass and serve with a highball glass filled 1/4 full of Red Bull." Here is an experienced answer example: "To make a Johnny Vegas, you need Red Bull, tequila, and watermelon liquor. It's a great summertime cocktail! In an ice-filled glass, I will mix one ounce of tequila and a half ounce watermelon. Stir, and top with Red Bull. This drink can also be served as a shot but be careful - they pack a punch!"29. How do you engage with customers while making and serving drinks? Bartenders provide customer service, waiting on customers and creating tasty beverages. These are not easy tasks when you're expected to do them all at the same time! Becoming a good bartender takes time and practice. As you get more comfortable, perfecting drinks and find your rhythm, these tasks will become second nature. Here is an answer example: "I take pride in my work and strive to provide the best service and drinks. I stay alert and make eye contact with customers, listening carefully to give them exactly what they want." Here is an entry level answer example: "I enjoy engaging with customers and getting to know them. I'll tell them a story as I am making their drink, or I will ask them about their work or kids. " Here is an experienced answer example: "Being fully engaged with customers is a challenge when first bartending, that is for sure! I used to have to jot down the customers' order before I could fully engage in any conversation. Now, if I have a lot on the go, I'll ask the customer to tell me a story while I make their order. It keeps the conversation going, makes them feel important, and allows me to concentrate more on making drinks, versus carrying the conversation."30. How do you garnish a Manhattan? Believe it or not, there are many ways to do this! The interviewer isn't just asking how to do it, but how do you make your Manhattans special? You may use a particular type of cherry or have a unique way of enhancing the flavor. Explain to the interviewer what's important to you when you serve a drink and how the garnishes you choose make your Manhattan one of the crowd favorites. Here is an answer example: "I never stray from the classic booze-marinated cherry. I understand there are many options for garnishing, but I am a bit of a traditionalist." Here is an entry level answer example: "What I have learned in bartending school is that you always garnish a Manhattan with a cherry. Do you prefer other garnish options for this drink? I would love to learn more." Here is an experienced answer example: "I love to try new garnish options with classic drinks. My favorite ways to garnish a Manhattan include infused cherries, lemon twist, orange twist, or sour cherries when they are in season."
Author of Bartending Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 11/30/2010 Last modified on: 08/17/2018
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