If you have been successful in gaining a trial for bar work, you are well on your way to securing a position. However, you haven’t got the job yet! In your trial, you will be observed and assessed against a number of different competencies, which ultimately demonstrate your ability to work successfully as an individual and as part of a team. The following pointers will assist you in preparing for and executing a brilliant trial that will hopefully secure you a position in the bar of your choice. In a trial, the ‘assessor’ is usually the bar manager or the person who conducted your interview. However, remember that all of the staff in the team may have a say in whether or not your get the job – so, for the duration of your trial, assume that any or all of the staff members you’ll be working with are the ‘assessors’ and have a say in the success or failure of your trial.
Before Your Trial Starts
Before your trial starts, make sure you are dressed accordingly. Make sure you are well groomed, with clean and ironed clothing. Try and be emotionally and physically prepared to show off your skills! Eat a good meal beforehand, and keep your fluid intake up. The last thing you want is to be hungry or thirsty during your trial. You need to give this your 100% attention.
Make sure you have the following equipment:
- Four black/blue pens (yes, carry four)
- Waiter’s friend/wine knife
- Pocket sized notepad
- Beer bottle opener/bar blade
- Cigarette lighter
- Mints (NOT for you to chew) – a customer might ask for them, which means a possible tip
- Apron, if required
- Anything else you think is necessary
When you arrive at your venue, make sure you are twenty minutes early. I understand this is five minutes too early, but use that five minutes to touch base with the bar manager (your ‘assessor’, or whoever is looking after you) and familiarise yourself with the venue’s drinks menu. Ask your assessor if you need to wear anything special. Try and have done all of your groundwork so you are in the bar (or whichever area you are meant to be in) right as your trial is supposed to start. Your assessment will begin as soon as you arrive – so the earlier you arrive, the better.
Special Note: If you arrive to your trial exactly at the time you are meant to start, this is already too late. Be fifteen to twenty minutes early.
Things You Can Ask Before Your Trial
- What are your first pour spirits?
- Do you charge double for double nips, or a different amount?
- Where are the customer toilets?
- Where is your fire evacuation plan?
- Where is your evacuation assembly area?
- Do you have an upselling recommendation info-sheet, for upselling products?
- Do you double sit tables in one service period?
- Can I take drinks directly out to customers if they are spending big?
- Are there any products you specifically wish to promote through word of mouth?
- What are your venue’s most popular food/drink products?
- Do you have a ‘regular customer register’?
- Do you run tabs? What info do you require from guests when setting up a tab?
- Where do you keep backup stock?
- What is your policy on halting service for unduly intoxicated patrons? Who talks to the patron? Who removes the patron?
When you start your trial, perform the following basic tasks:
- Introduce yourself to every staff member, making eye contact and shaking their hand. Do your best to remember names.
- Look in every fridge and try and familiarise yourself with the layout of the bar.
- Ask about general service procedures concerning docket machines, etc.
- Ask the head bartender or bar manager if you are to remain in a section (a section is a set area where you will serve for the duration of your shift).
- Ask where the cocktail recipe cheat sheet is (and ask if you can have a copy).
- Work with the other bartenders. If you are idle, offer to get something for them. If you hear them take an order, get their product for them. Show the other bartenders that you can work with them as a team.
- Take notes. Write things down, even if you can remember them. This will show your enthusiasm.
- Try and gently build rapport with the other staff.
- Try and gently build rapport with customers.
- Clean up after yourself and if you see a mess, clean it up straight away (even if it’s not yours)
Questions Your Assessor Will Ask Themselves:
- Does the applicant smile? Smiling is important!
- Is the applicant prepared?
- Is the applicant on time?
- Does the applicant have manners?
- Does the applicant take pride in their appearance?
- Is the applicant passionate?
- Is the applicant confident?
- Is the applicant fast/productive?
- Does the applicant clean up after themselves?
- How does the applicant interact with customers?
- How does the applicant handle under pressure?
- Does the applicant possess premium customer service skills?
- Does the applicant navigate the bar well?
- Does the applicant produce quality drinks?
- Does the applicant ask questions?
- Does the applicant display initiative?
- Does the applicant take ownership of their tasks and mistakes?
- Does the applicant interact well with existing staff? Did they introduce themselves on their own accord?
- Does the applicant interact well with existing service systems?
- Does the applicant move with a sense of urgency? This is important!
Questions Not To Ask, And Situations To Avoid:
- Don’t ask when you will be finishing.
- Don’t ask about pay rates, or staff benefits.
- Don’t say how things should be done. Follow the house rules, even if you don’t agree with them.
- Don’t stand around talking with other staff. Remain productive at all times.
As a final note, remember that you are doing a trial to demonstrate your ability to work as an employee at the venue. If you are asked to make drinks as a demonstration of your ability, make them quickly, accurately and passionately. Make them look and taste great. When you are leaving, say goodbye to the staff you met. Say that you’ll hopefully see them all again soon.
Perform a ‘follow up’ visit in a few days, if you don’t hear anything in the interim. Demonstrate your enthusiasm.