It seems that one of the top questions I get asked from bar managers and bar owners around the country is: how do you find great staff? Hiring people is just one of those things that too many of us routinely seem to do without really thinking about it too hard. I can say this, because this was a mistake I myself have made too often in the past.
On the surface the process seemed to be pretty simple: I would look for someone that had the skill set I was seeking and if they had the availability I needed, and hopefully, a good attitude, then they were hired.
I only interviewed the absolute minimum of applicants that I thought necessary. I also didn’t concern myself with whether or not they had the right traits for the bar, or more importantly, if I was bringing them into a position where they could thrive.
In essence, I was guilty of treating each position as though it were one size fits all, and in the end I believe that I kept many staff members from reaching their true potential. Although, I cannot say that I have discovered the keys to hiring the correct applicant every single time, I can say that my success rate has significantly improved over the years.
The most important thing that I did to improve my accuracy with new hires, was to narrow down exactly what I was looking for in my employees. To expand on that that more precisely, I mean what were the qualities and attributes that I was looking for at the bar? And what experience was I trying to deliver to my clientele?
A good way to help push this process along is to imagine in your mind the ideal bartender for your bar. Imagine that they are working their way through the course of a shift, ringing in and making drinks.
Now while that thought is still fresh in your mind, quickly write down five qualities that this ideal bartender embodied. Was it warmth? Humor? Speed? Or perhaps possibly, none of these.
Not all of these qualities are essential for every venue, so remember to keep in mind that it is all relative to what your bar is trying to deliver to its guests.
For instance speed is a must for any prospective hire in a high-volume nightclub, but not as strong a factor in a fine-dining restaurant. While attention to detail is paramount in a craft cocktail lounge, it can be an afterthought in a local college bar.
When you better frame it from that perspective, you will find that it is much easier to truly pinpoint who the ideal candidate for your bar is.
For instance at my bar, Polite Provisions, we base our staff hiring criteria on the following: