A bartender is a person responsible for mixing and serving drinks for customers, whether that is in a bar, a cocktail lounge, or a restaurant. The right bartender is charming and offers excellent customer service, and the right bartender can increase sales and ensure that customers are happy and safe.
In this article, we will look at the skills and abilities that a bartender needs to be successful, and how you can look for those skills and abilities during the hiring process. This will include specific soft skill tests, as well as aptitude and technical assessments that you could choose to filter through your candidate pool and get to the right person for the job.
What should a bartender be able to do?
A bartender is broadly responsible for all the work that goes on behind the bar, including mixing and serving drinks, maintaining levels of cleanliness, and accepting payments.
When customers arrive at the bar, the bartender needs to verify their ID when necessary to meet age-related licensing laws. They need to be able to take the customer's order and make or pour the drinks as required, ready to serve to the customer. This can include adding different ingredients to make a cocktail, or adding garnishes as required.
The bartender is responsible for ensuring that the bar is kept well stocked. They need to replenish stock as needed, including changing the barrels for draft beer, and they may need to order more stock when necessary.
The bartender needs to keep the bar area clean, including the tables and bar itself, other bar areas, and also the glasses, utensils and bar equipment, following best practice guidance.
In some cases, the bartender might hold a supervisory position, monitoring the activities of bar staff and other bartenders.
The safety of customers is also part of the work that a bartender needs to do - they need to try and limit problems of excessive drinking, by not serving obviously drunk customers and ensuring that they leave the bar safely. This might include calling them a taxi to get home, for example.
The bartender might also have to intervene if a customer is becoming problematic, getting aggressive, or generally being too loud and upsetting other customers - they might need to ask someone to leave, or even forcefully eject them.
Skills to look for in a bartender
Being a bartender is about more than just pouring drinks. Bartenders need to be skilled in the different methods of pouring and serving drinks, but there are some other skills that you should be looking for when choosing the right bartender. These include:
Point of Sale (POS) Software: the bartender will need to use POS software to not only charge customers the right money but also to help with stock levels. This software is usually relatively simple to learn, and skills are often transferable from one system to the next.
Active Listening: bars can be noisy places, and the bartender needs to be able to listen to what the customer is asking, especially if it is a long or complicated order. Active listening helps with conversation and good customer service, too.
Complex Problem Solving: there will be different issues that the bartender will have to deal with, not least busy service times and maintaining standards in cleaning and tidying, for example.
Time Management: keeping up with orders and drink pouring, as well as cleaning and ensuring that other jobs are completed needs time management skills, and this is more noticeable when managing the time of other bar staff.
Social Perceptiveness: bartenders need to have excellent interpersonal skills, and part of this is being perceptive about the way others are feeling and acting socially. This perceptiveness doesn't have to be related to action, just to awareness.
Useful abilities for a bartender
The abilities that a bartender has can make the difference between a successful candidate and one who doesn't really have what it takes. Finding the right abilities from your pool of applicants is easier when you know what abilities are important, such as:
Oral Expression and Comprehension: bartenders need to be able to converse with customers, and be able to listen and understand when they are taking orders.
Deductive and Inductive Reasoning: running a bar, whether in a restaurant or in a cocktail lounge, needs a lot of decision making - so bartenders need to be able to think logically.
Written Comprehension and Expression: although the position doesn't necessarily entail much writing, the bartender must be able to express themselves in writing, and understand written instructions for things like recipes for cocktails.
Memorization: the ability to memorize large drink orders is one part of this skill - as is the ability to remember how to make different cocktails and the exact amount of each ingredient to use.
Attention to Detail: it is often the small details that make a difference to a customer’s experience - and attention to detail means being able to add the right garnish to finish a drink, or ensure that glassware is clean and shiny.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a bartender?
Soft skills are the intangible, inherent skills that a candidate has. These usually relate to interpersonal relationship building or problem solving - and they can be difficult to evaluate in candidates, even in an interview. The soft skills tests below would be suitable for evaluating a potential bartender:
Communication: communication can cover everything from general conversation to understanding non-verbal communication - and this is important in a bartender. Communication is important when working as part of a team, as well as dealing with customers.
Adaptability: the adaptability test allows the candidate to demonstrate how well they can adapt to a varied work schedule and tasks, and whether they are able to switch focus to a new task when necessary.
Teamwork: working in a bar is all about being part of a team, whether you are working with wait staff or other bar staff. Good teamwork skills are needed for the smooth running of the bar.
Time Management: the time management test evaluates candidates on their ability to manage their own time (and other people’s time) appropriately, ensuring that all tasks are completed when they are supposed to be. ** **
Leadership: some bartenders are required to take leadership roles, and this test evaluates whether they exhibit natural leadership skills. This test also works if you want to evaluate a candidate’s ability to delegate and negotiate, too.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a bartender?
While a bartender needs technical skills - in making cocktails and pouring drinks as well as using POS software, it is the aptitudes that might be considered more important.
Some of the aptitude tests that you might want to use when evaluating candidates for a bartender role include:
Emotional Intelligence: emotional intelligence helps with things like social perceptiveness and relationship building, as it is all about recognizing and making the most of emotions when they happen.
Logical Reasoning: the logical reasoning test gives the candidate the ability to demonstrate that they are able to take unfamiliar information and use it to make a logical and reasoned conclusion.
Situational Judgment: situational judgment tests are all about choosing the best way to solve a problem in the workplace, and they tell recruiters a lot about the work behavior of the candidates.
Numerical Reasoning: the numerical reasoning test is about math knowledge - and applying that to different work-related situations.
Verbal Reasoning: the verbal reasoning test is an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate that they have a good grasp of language, and can glean relevant information from writing.
Our recommended test battery for a bartender
Using tests to evaluate candidates is a great way to get more data about potential candidates, but using all the above tests would be overwhelming for a candidate. Instead, below is a battery of suggested assessments that you could use:
Situational Judgement: the situational judgement test presents questions in the form of fictional workplace scenarios, where a problem is being described. Following this scenario, the candidate is presented with a number of possible courses of action that could be taken to solve the problem, and they need to choose the best one.
Communication: in the communication test, the candidate has to solve work problems using communication skills, choosing from a series of options that could be chosen as the right course of action to take.
Numerical Reasoning: a good grasp of numerical basics will help bartenders to now only ensure correct change is given in purchases, but also in measurements. This test is all about applying mathematical principles to data to reach a logical conclusion.
If you want to learn more about hiring a bartender, there is a bartender job knowledge test that is straightforward to apply to the recruitment process.
July 04, 2023
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