5 Things You Should Do Before Applying for a Bartending Job

Get Behind the Bar With These 5 Tips

Bartending jobs aren’t exactly easy to get. If they were, you wouldn’t want them. They’re fun, fast-paced, and well paid. In fact, the work itself is easy. From a skin and bones perspective, customers come in, you greet them, take their order, and serve them a drink. Pretty damn simple.

There are a lot of myths and rumors about bartending jobs that you should know before you even begin though. If you’re serious about getting into bartending and currently have no experience, you’ll want an idea of what lies in front of you. Here’s some tips to get you on your way:

1. List Possible Work Places

List of Bars
Start by listing some places you want to work. It can be a bar, restaurant, hotel, or even a night club. It’s your choice. Make sure to be realistic about the job fit. You want to be sure you want to actually show up to work once you get the job. Now that you have your list, visit each one.

2. Visit Each Bar and Look Around

Bars in the City
Have conversations with employees. Talk to the bartender, host, servers, and managers. Note what they are wearing, this will be important. Find out who is in charge of hiring bartenders, and get to know the managers (this can be accomplished with a phone call as well). Get comfortable with who works there. When applying for a job anywhere, it’s all about who you know. This is especially true in the food and beverage industry.

This is very important, you’re going to want to get an idea of how the bartender currently runs his bar. Sit in the bar area and watch him for about 30 min to an hour. Try to note his positive and negative qualities. This way you can go above and beyond his abilities. Does he take his time when pouring mixed drinks? Be faster. Is he a bit rude when greeting customers? Smile more and be friendlier. If the establishment is looking to hire, it may be because their current employee isn’t meeting demand.

3. Dress to Impress

I Heart Job Offers Shirt
You should only wear business attire to the interview if instructed to do so. When given the opportunity to interview and apply for a position, always ask whether they prefer you to dress for the position or if they would prefer you to wear business casual.

Now here’s where your prior research comes into consideration. If instructed to dress for the position, impress them by dressing better than the other bartenders they currently have. Try to look similar but better. Show them that you belong there, but stand out in the process. If this isn’t possible, then aim to match what you saw when you were there.

4. Prepare a Solid Resume and Cover Letter

Impress the prospective boss with a solid resume and cover letter. Write like you are selling them on yourself. Make sure both are exciting, yet to the point. Try to include as much food and beverage related, and of course bartending, experience as possible. Face to face service jobs and sales related experience is a plus as well. Do not be discouraged when writing your resume if you have a lack of experience, a resume and cover letter can be enough to get the position at many establishments. Some places prefer to only hire bartenders without prior experience because they are easier to mold to their position.

5. Practice for the Interview, Then Practice Again

Practice for your interview. Do not skip the practice. This can be the difference between the job going to the next guy who is just a bit more confident in his interview.

Sample interview questions are available all over the internet. Practice your answers several times by saying them in front of a mirror. Know your strengths, weaknesses, recall previous job experiences, and examples of times you succeeded and failed. If you have each of these pinpointed, you will be able to handle the most common questions asked in interviews.

Prepare a short description of who you are for the common first interview request, “Tell me a bit about yourself.” Ultimately, you are practicing so that you sound relaxed and confident.

Preparing for a generic interview is extremely valuable in any job you apply for. But for bartending specific interviews, you’ll want to prepare for a few other things. They will most likely ask for you’re food and beverage related experience. They will want to know the “Why?” Why do you want to work for us?

Finally, you should have 3-5 drinks that you can make perfectly on the spot. Often times, managers or owners will ask you to “Make me a drink.” They may ask for a specific drink or shooter. So know your common favorites, such as a martini, margarita, and long island iced tea. If you can prepare something fancy as well, this may score you a few extra points.


You can prepare yourself when applying and interviewing for a bartending position in similar ways to any other job. Go above and beyond with a little research and preperation for each application and you will guarantee a look of professionalism and confidence. Be prepared to show a bit of your mixology skills along with your abilities behind the bar for your prospective boss.


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