Congratulations on landing yourself a bartending interview! You’ve passed the hardest part of the application process. Now to ensure that you’re successful at your interview, we’ve compiled a list of the essentials that you should have prepared in order to make the whole process as smooth and stress-free for you.
In this article, we provide the tools you need for your bartending interview, including alcohol brands, popular cocktails, Australian wine regions, presentation, and questions you should be prepared to answer. Read on to learn everything you need to know before your bartending interview.
Before your interview, we recommend learning between two to three top shelf (also referred to as premium) spirits. Here are a few examples to get you started.
- Vodka: Belvedere, Grey Goose, Ciroc...
- Whisky: Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Lagavulin, Jack Daniels (Bourbin)...
- Champagne: Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Nicolas Feuillatte...
- Tequila: Patron, Don Julio Real, Tres-Quatre-Cinco...
- Rum: Trois Rivieres, Kraken, St. Lucia...
In terms of house brands or brands that are lower in quality, it’s good to familiarise yourself with a few of these although, depending on the venue you’re interviewing for, it’s very possible that you won’t be asked to name these brands at all.
A simple Google search will give you many more brands and variations, which we highly recommend looking into. The more you know, the better!
When it comes to wine, it really depends on the venue itself. So aside from being able to name a few popular wine brands, we encourage you to focus on Australian wine regions. Australia has more than 100 different grape varieties across 65 designated wine regions. For your reference, here’s an overview of some of the top Australian regions.
- Yarra Valley, Victoria
- Hunter Valley, New South Wales
- The Barossa Vallely, South Australia
- Coonawarra, South Australia
- Margaret River, Western Australia
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with some regions (we’ve only listed a few above), we highly recommend learning what grape each region is known for. For example, the Hunter Valley is known for its Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
Similar to wine lists, venues will typically have signature cocktails, which you should be able to find online. If not, learning these cocktails on the job is standard. Keeping that in mind, here are a few classic Australian cocktails that you should be comfortable discussing with your interviewer along with creating them.
- Espresso Martini
- Aperol Spritz
- Old Fashioned
As a cocktail bartender, you should absolutely be prepared to list off the full recipe, step=by-step and down to the last detail including glass type. For example, here’s how you could explain your espresso martini recipe:
45 ml vodka
30 ml Khalua
1 shot of espresso (30 ml)
15ml sugar syrup
In a cocktail shaker, add 45 ml of vodka, 30 ml of Khalua, and 1 shot of espresso and 15 ml of sugar syrup. Fill with ice and shake. Then, strain and pour into a martini glass and garnish with three espresso beans.
Hint: Knowing the details of the classic cocktails will show that you’re capable, confident, and knowledgeable as a bartender so avoid hesitating or second-guessing. The best way to do that? Get one of your friends to hold a mock-interview and practice, practice, practice!
Before your interview, you must check the wine, cocktail (if they have one), and food menu. If you’re able (and certainly if you’re after a sommelier position), learn a few wine and food pairings.
Ideally, you should also visit the venue as a guest before your interview. It will give you an idea of the general vibe along with the decor, and especially the style of service.
Before your interview, ensure you’ve familiarised yourself with the venue’s presentation standards. As far as grooming goes, ensure that you’re looking put-together and your appearance aligns with the venue’s.
For example, ladies might try and avoid heavy make-up with hair tied back and away from their faces when interviewing for a fine dining venue. Similarly, men should ensure that their facial hair (if any) should be well-groomed, hair should be styled, and attention to detail should be taken into consideration like having clean fingernails. Essentially, to align with a fine dining venue, your appearance should not distract the guests in any way.
Dressing for a fine dining venue when you’re interviewing for a family restaurant would not be appropriate, however. Avoid being over-dressed for a relaxed venue. This is a common mistake and over-dressing or under-dressing shows that you’re not familiar with the venue you’re interviewing for. Again, this is why becoming familiar with the venue’s service style, brand, and the menu is so important.
Who You’re Meeting
This is a big one. Before your interview, ensure that you know the name of the person you’re interviewing with. This might seem like an obvious one but knowing your interviewer's name and calling them by it especially as you introduce yourself with a firm handshake and when you thank them for their time at the end of the interview. Speaking of handshakes, practice yours a few times to ensure it’s confident and strong. Nobody likes a limp handshake.
About the Venue
Before your meeting, be familiar with the history of the venue. You should be able to recap the restaurant or bar in five sentences. On top of being able to briefly summarise the venue, ensure that you have learned two or three unique facts that you find interesting about the bar, restaurant, or nightclub. Does the restaurant have a signature dish that no one else is serving? This will illustrate your interest and show your interviewer that you did your homework.
At Your Interview
We suggest showing up 15 minutes early to your interview time. Being any early than that isn’t necessary but whatever you do, make sure that you’re not late. Ensure that you bring along your RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) and your resume. Again, this shows that you’re prepared and committed to helping the interviewer in understanding your background.
In terms of communication throughout your interview, always wait for the interviewer to finish their sentence before answering. Cutting in before your interviewer is finished is not only rude but it also probably obstructs you from answering their question fully. If they’ve asked you a question that you find a little confusing or unclear, don’t stress! You should absolutely ask for clarification. And no, this won’t hurt your chances in your interview. If anything, it will illustrate your attention to detail.
You should also have a few questions prepared to asked your interviewer. As much as this interview is about you being right for the venue, it's also equally about the venue being right for you.
After Your Interview
After you’ve completed your interview and gone home, always send an e-mail to thank your interviewer for their time. This probably goes without saying but a simple thank-you goes a long way as it shows that you value your interviewer’s time and appreciate the opportunity.
When you receive an answer from your interview, always ask for feedback whether the outcome is positive or negative. This will help you to improve for your next interview. We know that this can sometimes be difficult but try and take their constructive criticism or feedback and work on it. Try not to be discouraged if you’re not successful. Being unsuccessful at landing the position doesn’t mean you’re bad it just means that what you have doesn’t align with what the venue is looking for but you might be perfect for the venue next door.
And if you are successful at your interview, here is how to be successful at your first bartending shift. You’ve got this! Looking for more valuable insight to prepare you for success in the hospitality industry? Subscribe to our blog below and receive weekly blogs straight to your inbox.