If you’ve been successful in gaining an interview with a potential employer, the following pointers may help you make a positive impression.
An initial interview can be a daunting experience, and it pays to be as prepared as possible. Remember you are selling yourself. You need to act in a way that demonstrates to your potential employer that you are suitable for the job. This chapter will shed some light onto the perspective of the interviewer, so you can ‘reverse engineer’ your approach in scoring your target job.
Initial Questions/Criticisms Prior To An Interview
Listed below are some initial questions and criticisms bar managers will ask themselves, regarding an applicant:
- How did the individual approach me? (Online, over the telephone or face to face? Applicants who approach managers face to face have already made the biggest step forward)
- Have the applicant jumped from venue to venue rapidly in the past? (Bar hopping isn’t a positive sign – an assessor will need to know if a potential applicant will stay for a reasonable period of time if they are going to invest time and resources in training)
- Does the applicant possess excellent presentation and communication skills?
- Does the applicant have a ‘culture fit’ amongst the existing team?
- Does the applicant have the ability to interact successfully with the venue’s customer base?
What Will Your Interviewer Be Looking For?
- Confidence and nerves of steel
- A positive and productive attitude, regardless of how qualified or experienced you are.
- Great communications skills, including confidence
- Your ability to mesh with the current team
- Your ability to handle yourself under pressure
- Someone who can spark a conversation. Be chatty (but not too chatty). Don’t forget you will be dealing with customers you have never met before – and you’ll need to make conversation with them. Your interviewer will need to see that you have the ability to interact with guests, and give them the best nights of their lives.
- Honesty and integrity
- Someone who is prepared. Always be prepared.
- Recollections of your experience in situations where you have delivered:
- Great customer service
- The reversal of a customer complaint
- A resolution to a difficult scenario
What Will Your Interviewer Not Be Looking For?
- Someone who talks too much (yes, this is possible!)
- Someone who ‘big-notes’ themselves
- A liar, or a cheat
Firstly, make sure you are well dressed and groomed. I know it sounds cheesy, but ‘dress for success’. Your interviewer will be assessing your attention to detail. Wear appropriate clean and ironed clothing – don’t wear casual clothes like t-shirts or skimpy mini-skirts. Wear something corporate or semi-formal. Make sure you wear deodorant and/or a light spray of cologne or perfume (but never overdo it).
First impressions are paramount — remember the first six seconds are the most important. Your interviewer will form an opinion of you in your first six seconds of interaction. So, make it count! Be calm and hold yourself with confidence. Confidence is the key.
In your first six seconds, do the following:
- Smile – this is very important!
- Offer eye contact
- Act calm
- Have confidence
- Give the interviewer your full attention
- Say ‘hello’
- Say ‘thank you for seeing me today’ and seem appreciative
Also, in your first six seconds, do not do the following:
- Say nothing
- Make no eye contact
- Appear distracted
- Show negative emotions
- Play on your phone
Make For A Productive Interview
To assist in making a good impression, the following points may help:
- Preparation is the first step. Before you attend your interview, make sure you are prepared for any specific questions your interviewer may ask. This could include:
- Have you got a copy of your resume?
- Have you got a list of references I can call?
- Can you do a small trial now? (this means you should be readily equipped with your tools)
- Can I borrow a pen?
- Do you have a notepad to write something down?
- Eye contact is the second step. But, don’t hold it for too long. Two seconds is enough (count two seconds in your head beforehand, to get an idea)
- If you shake hands, make it a solid and confident handshake. Make sure you connect hands properly, and offer eye contact at the same time. Never offer a weak, limp handshake.
- For the duration of the interview, try and mimic the body language of your interviewer. If they are relaxed, act relaxed (but not too much). If they remain formal and polite in their composition, follow their lead and do the same.
- Be prepared for the following questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why can you offer that nobody else can?
- Tell me about our venue (Answering this will prove you have done your homework)
- Why do you want to leave your old job?
- What are your strongest positive attributes?
- What are your strongest negative attributes?
- What are the qualities of a good bartender?
- What are the qualities of a good bar team?
- Can you give an example of an application of your initiative?
- How long should a customer wait before being greeted at the door of a venue? (answer: three to four seconds)
- What are some golden rules in hospitality?
- Answer: Give our customers the best nights of their lives
- Answer: Sell and upsell
- Lastly, why should you get the job here?
- Be prepared to ask the following questions. Your interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions, and it’s essential that you come prepared with at least five questions. Make them open ended questions. Possible questions are:
- Do you mind if I ask some questions about your venue? (Ask this only if necessary)
- I’ve noticed that your target market is <insert demographic info>. Is this correct? Do you cater for any other markets?
- Your drinks menu looks great. How often do you update it?
- Do you have a regular customer base? And a way of recording their names and drink preferences?
- What is your uniform? (Don’t ask this if it is obvious)
- What happens next? What happens if I am successful in this interview? Shall I call you in a few days as a follow up?
Say that you want the job. Ask the interviewer if there is anything extra you can do to prove that you can perform the role (this is a great opener for an invitation to do a trial).
Do not ask the following questions:
- How much will I be paid? (Wait until you get a job offer, you are then in a better position to bargain for a better rate)
- Where can I smoke? Do you give your staff smoking breaks?
- Are the hours flexible here?
- Where do I write down my unavailability?
- When your interviewer finishes your interview, say thank you for their time. Be appreciative. Shake hands, give eye contact and walk away with confidence.
- If necessary, call back in a few days, or go one better and drop in. Always follow up on a position – it shows you want the job.
Things To Say That Will Impress
The following questions or phrases might impress an assessor during the interview process:
- Do you have a food/wine matching document I can memorize?
- Are there any products I should promote the most?
- Do you mind if I take home a copy of your cocktail cheat-sheet?
- I’m very interested in this role. Is there anything I can do to strengthen my application?
- It seems your target market is XX. Is that correct?
- I am free to do a trial whenever you need me.
- I am available at all times.
- I have already read your drinks list and food menu (ask a question about it).
- I have already seen your website(ask a question about it).
- Thank you for seeing me. I appreciate you must be busy.
- I am confident I am a fast learner. Can I have the opportunity to show you that? I’d like to work my first few trial shifts for free. If I am no good, you can let me go, no questions asked.
Example Questions Your Referees May Be Asked
- An interviewer may ask your referees the following questions:
- Why is the applicant leaving/why did the applicant leave your team?
- What are the applicant’s strongest positive attributes?
- What are the applicant’s strongest negative attributes?
- Is the applicant a team player?
- Does the applicant work well without supervision?
- Is the applicant honest and trustworthy?
- Are there any extra comments you would like to make about the applicant?
- Would you employ the applicant again?
Lastly, and most importantly:
- Do and say things that will showcase your positive attitude.
- Do and say things that will showcase your common sense.
- Do and say things that will showcase your work ethic.
- Do and say things that will showcase your problem solving.
- Do and say things that will showcase your quest for constant learning and improvement.