Hiring capable and knowledgeable bartenders can be the difference between a smooth service or a night in the weeds. Knowing what qualities make a good bartender is the first step to hiring one for your establishment. It's also important to ensure that even the most talented individual is a good fit for the environment they’ll be working in.
Quality candidates will be well-prepared for their interview and selective about the companies they work for. This list will provide all the tips you'll need to find the perfect bartender and present your business in the best way possible.
Top tips for hiring bartenders that impress
Good bartender hiring is important for any restaurant or bar, and you'll want to find workers as experienced and versatile as possible. Bartenders are not only responsible for mixing drinks but providing excellent customer experiences as well. Good bartenders will know how to communicate efficiently and effectively with their coworkers and managers.
As you hire your next bartender, keep these tips in mind:
1. Hire for experience
The skills that make an excellent bartender take time to develop and fully mature. A candidate with four years of experience, or someone who attended bartending school will have broad knowledge and muscle memory to allow them easily slot into an already existing team. Someone with less experience might take a little more attention and training upfront, but that extra effort can be rewarded as the result is a bartender who is trained to provide the exact experience you want to offer.
2. Look for creativity + attention to detail
Creativity can be a difficult quality to define. When checking prior work experience, any indication of an artistic background can be a sign of that “je ne sais quoi” that will help them stand out. We know how much patrons love to say “Surprise me!” when ordering a drink, so this type of person will be able to whip up custom creations on a whim to satisfy customers.
Attention to detail is also important, as following recipes can require precise measurements, and presentation is key. You don’t want a bartender that constantly forgets a garnish or uses the wrong glass.
3. Skills match
When looking to fill a position, you'll want to look for a bartender whose skills align with the needs of the role. Someone with experience in a high-volume bar might not be the best fit for your bespoke cocktail lounge. That said, someone who has worked in both environments might excel over a peer who has only worked in haute cuisine.
4. Look for team players
Good communication skills are essential when working behind the bar, or in any hospitality role for that matter. Seek out soft skills that indicate a person will be a good teammate, like the ability to form a rapport with others, resolve conflicts, and establish trust with their peers. Experience working in large restaurants with similar-sized teams is also a sign of being a good team player.
5. Run a practical skills test
Having a candidate run through practical bartending scenarios will help you discern the level their skills are at. Ask them to give a detailed pitch for a cocktail over the phone or make one in person to see how they perform. A good bartender should have classic drinks down pat.
6. Consider culture fit
Just because someone is experienced, doesn’t necessarily mean they will excel in your space. What values does your company stand for? Look for someone that shares those values in their personal life as a sign that they’ll align with your unique workplace culture.
7. Offer competitive pay + benefits
The better pay and benefits you’re able to offer, the higher caliber of talent you can attract. Before you look to hire, understand what you can offer your employees and be prepared to speak about them. Your base pay should be at or above other similar establishments in your area to garner the attention of a potential hire. Consider insurance, discounts, time off, and more as additional incentives.
8. Be transparent with hours
Is it a slower time of the year, or will you need someone on call in case of a summer rush on a long weekend? You should know the answers to these questions going into the hiring process so that you can set expectations appropriately. Don’t overpromise hours that may not be available, or vice versa. Be realistic to ensure whoever fills the position will be set up for success and want to stay there long term.
9. Test run vetted bartenders
Using a service that quality controls potential hires can help to streamline the hiring process so you can get back to focusing on other aspects of your business. Hospitality staffing platform, Qwick, allows you to schedule shifts with vetted bartenders that have a year or more of relevant experience. You and your team get to work with them, and if you want to extend them an offer to join you full-time, you can hire them with no fees. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. This is the ultimate hospitality hiring hack.
10. Partner with Qwick
The last thing you want to do when you’re hiring for a role is lose someone else on your team and get set back even further. But the reality is, if you’re hiring, it’s probably because you’re understaffed today. Be wary of burnout among your current staff, especially if they are having to pick up the slack.
Qwick can help you fill bartending shifts when you’re in a pinch. Just post a shift on the easy-to-use staffing platform and sit back while it’s matched with an experienced hospitality freelancer. Your team (and your guests) will be glad you did.
Finding the best bartenders with Qwick
All freelance bartenders on Qwick have at least one year of relevant experience and are vetted for professionalism, skills, and certifications. Only the best of the best can pick up shifts with Qwick, and a rating system helps the most exceptional talent rise to the top, prioritizing them for your open shifts.
Qwick is an easy way to find top hospitality talent, whether you use it as a hiring tool, for last-minute needs, or as a regular part of your operations. Create a free account and post your first shift to meet the Qwick crew.