How to Hire and Train Bartenders

A bar or tavern can differentiate themselves from the competition by consistently having the best hiring and training practices. However, it also can mean that a new staff member can be totally out of their element in your bar’s establishment. If you have signature cocktails or specialty seasonal cocktails, teaching the new team member can be a challenge. As a result, you need to invest some serious time and energy into your training. Even some of the most experienced bartenders can arrive with bad habits. A bar owner should have a dedicated training program to ensure their specific needs are met and adhered to.

Hiring
There are several things to look for in an interview:

  • Obviously, you are looking for some experience. Especially important would be to have experience in the specific area of service.
  • Don’t hire someone from a 5 star hotel bar if you are the corner, neighborhood place. In reverse, don’t hire a dive bar bartender for your 5 star restaurant or hotel
  • Ask them some questions about their private life. What do they do for fun? What are some of their hobbies or activities that they like? Do they have a lot of friends they hang out with? What are their favorite bars and why? What’s their favorite kind of cuisine (if you serve food). That kind of information is helpful in hiring the right person.
  • Ask yourself if this person will fit in with the rest of your crew. This is important as putting a square peg in a round hole will end up with the person either quitting or being let go because they can’t get along with the others.
  • Give the interviewing bartender a tour of your bar facility. Along with showing them the bar area they may potentially be working if hired. You could ask them to observe the bar during operating hours to help them get a feel for the customers and the culture of the bar. Get some positive or negative feedback for the interviewing bartender.

Training

So, now you’ve hired the perfect bartender. Training your bartender is going to be an essential task in getting what you want out of them. Sure, they may have a lot of experience but you don’t want to just throw them behind the bar and have them get after it.

First things first. Who will train the bartender? Do you have a “lead” bartender or trainer? It is essential that the bartender be trained not only on how you are organized behind the bar but other information pertinent to their employment with your company.

  1. You need to have an Employee Manual. This should include the following:
  • Company mission statement
    • Core values
    • Professionalism in the work place
    • Uniform specifications
    • Anti-harassment policy
    • Scheduling and requesting time off procedures
    • Safety procedures
    • How to address conflicts with your guests
  • Train them on your POS system. Have tests on this as well
  • Train and retrain them on your signature drinks
  • Conduct tastings of your signature drinks
  • Have a set plan for how long the training will last
  • Have written test every shift to ensure that they are getting and retaining the information they are supposed to be getting
  • If your bar serves food, then they must be trained on the food menu as well. Have them try different dishes every shift and ask them their opinion of each dish.
  • Watch their personality to ensure that the bartender is adjusting to their new job well and can this person deal with stress.
  • Check that their uniform is in good shape and properly worn. Ensure it isn’t dirty or wrinkled.
  • Watch for their time management skills. Are they efficient? Help them by encouraging skills they can use to make them successful and the customer happy.
  • Be patient with the new trainee. They are kind of a fish out of water in their new job. Give them time to learn the culture of your bar. Coach them and encourage them. This goes for the rest of your staff as well.

Bars are sometimes tough places to work and bartending takes a special kind of person. When you find the right one its like magic. The hiring and training processes are imperative for the success of the bartender and your establishment.

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