6 Important Bartender Interview Questions

// By Alayna Rouse // , May 8, 2019

Topics: Bartender Training

We know that normally, business owners have enough questions of their own and aren’t looking to add any more to their collection, but these five questions could prove to be a lifesaver for your bar. These questions will provide you with insight into your interviewees cocktail making skills, their personality, and more!


Here is the list of the five essential questions you need to ask your bartender interviewees… and because you want answers, we responded to the questions as well. Consider this your bartender-hiring cheat sheet.


1. How do you cut someone off?


25 expert bartenders were asked this question, and, not surprisingly, they all had different answers. Luckily, many of them had similar themes to their answers, and the consensus seems to be that when someone needs to be cut off at the bar, you follow these three steps:

  • Appeal to their friends (because if your friend tells you that you’ve had enough to drink, you’re more likely to listen)
  • Lag the time that you come to their table for drinks, but make sure that they have lots of water or soda in the meantime
  • Tell the customer honestly, but nicely, that you think they’ve had enough


2. If you caught another bartender stealing, what would you do?


There are a lot of ways your bartenders can steal from you, including undercharging (in the hopes of a bigger tip); Z-ing out register tape early and not reporting all sales; staging a fake walkout; using personal, smaller jiggers and drinking the difference… the list goes on. It’s hard to tell which bartenders would steal from you, and which ones are honest, but this question is a good way to weed out the thieves. Thieves hate to be confronted, so asking a question up front to show that you are tough on bar theft will scare many dishonest bartenders away. Of course, there is no one right answer to this question, but if your interviewee has an answer that you agree with, that’s a good sign for you.

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3. How would you handle a customer who you believe to be underage or using a fake ID?


Having an understanding of how a person will respond in different scenarios is important when hiring a bartender. In situations like these most bartenders refer to their managers before deciding to serve an individual they believe to be underage, if your bar has a specific protocol this the perfect opportunity to inform the interviewee. This question is important in gaging the interviewees character and also an important question to ask for your business. No one wants to face the hassles of being ticketed or fined for serving minors and in some states minors are used in compliance checks by law enforcement. So making sure you are hiring a bartender that is vigilant is important. 


4. If a customer said his drink wasn't strong enough, what would you do?


Bartenders agree that anger and frustration looms large when a customer questions the amount of alcohol in a drink, so this question would be answered “correctly” when the interviewee honestly states their reaction and most importantly talks about their customer service follow-up. An “incorrect” answer would include either:

  • Confronting the customer and making a scene (you do not want prima-donna bartenders on your staff)
  • Over-pouring the next drink (that would be another form of bartender theft)

Because your bar’s reputation is built on the strength of the customer service you and your bartenders offer, make sure that the person you are interviewing understands that the most important thing to do when a customer is unhappy is to respond politely, but firmly.


5. What is the best way to make a Sex on the Beach?


Trick question! There is no “best” way to make a Sex on the Beach. This drink has been around for so long, and has such a cult following that no one even knows the original recipe anymore. For this question, listen to your bartender-to-be’s answer. If it sounds like a drink that you would want served in your bar, that makes their answer a good one. If your bartender interviewee makes a weak Sex on the Beach, or doesn’t know how to make one, those are definite warning signs for you.


6. Tell me a joke?


Bartenders do more than serve drinks,  some refer to them as a stand up comedian or the local counselor. Hiring someone one that has the ability to handle crowds and maintain an approachable and positive attitude is key! Bartenders can become the face of your restaurant or bar and one poor remark can completely change a customers experience at your business. Their frequent interactions with guest require them to be confident and charismatic. You want guest to come back and having a great bartender can definitely be a driving factor. 



No matter who you decide to hire, or what interview questions you decide to ask, make sure that you run your bar yourself every chance you can. The best way to hire the honest, hardworking bartenders you deserve is to get to know them by being at your bar and working with them all the time. Consider, you got into this business to share your passion for drinks—how will you do that if someone else is running your bar for you?What are some great bartender interview questions you've come up with?


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Alayna Rouse

About the author, Alayna Rouse

Alayna is currently a marketing intern at Backbar. As a current graduate business student she stays up to date on all the newest marketing trends. She is also a wine enthusiast who has traveled the world studying wine and alcohol production.

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