If You’re Serious – Go to Bartending School!
Yes, I’m just going to emphatically say this one time: I am all in favor of you enrolling in a bartending school! My Bartending School. Whether you enrolled in my Bartender Advanced Course or are taking the Free Bartending School Course – you’re on the right track. In fact, instead of calling it “Bartending School Online,” my course should be named “How to Get Your First Bartending Job.”
Attending bartending school is for your benefit. Not the bar’s managers. Not the bar’s owners. Not the person interviewing you. Yours. You need to have a basic understanding of the Food and Beverage Industry – and exactly what a bartender is hired to do. Many Bartending Schools do not teach this. I do.
Bartending school, a good one, will help you gain the basic skills needed to land that first job – and keep you out of trouble your first month on the job. I go into great detail on these points later in the course.
The bar manager, or whomever is interviewing you, is probably going to ask you a few questions about basic bartending skills – and you need to know the answers. My Bartending Course’s will go into much more detail on the interview process than any other course out there. Rest assured – I’ve got you covered on that stuff. But then what? You have no experience!
And, there are pitfalls!
As an interviewing bar manager, I have had this happen many times. Besides arrogance, in general, you’re revealing your naivete. I go into more detail in later sections of my course.
But here’s what is really strange about bartending school: You see and hear all kinds of people on YouTube saying that Bartending School in not worth it. Then, you get others doing their best to sell you a bartending course. So, who’s right? Both of them!
Bartending schools acquired a bad reputation in the past because they guaranteed people bartending jobs. Not good. That was their hook. “Our bartending school is only $495 – and we’ll guarantee you a job upon completion!” Yeah, right. The Feds jumped all over that.
Things are much better now out there in Bartending School world. It’s now rare if one of them will guarantee their students a job – but some still do. In all fairness, some bartending schools will hook you up with a local “events” type company that staffs bars, restaurants, hotels, convention centers, etc., with “on call” bartenders.
I’ll never guarantee that you’ll get a job – but you will increase your chances significantly by attending a bartending school. And you’ve taken that first step by taking one of my Bartender Courses.
The majority of today’s working bartenders did not go to bartending school. They started as food servers, or in some other restaurant position, and then moved into a bartending position. Many others started with banquet bartending – but probably as a server.
Still others had no experience and applied at a brand-new place. Managers are much more likely to hire inexperienced bartenders in that sort of situation. Why? Because they train EVERYBODY! And, of course, the truth is that someone who walks in and is a 9.5 on the “hotness” scale might get hired without even an interview. I call ‘em like I see ‘em.
But here’s how a great number of people with no bartending experience get hired: They take a chance! They ignore all of the noise out there and actually go in and apply. They never fell into that trap of “bars won’t hire bartenders with no experience.” It’s simply not true! However, they also understand that they do need to have some basic skills – and that’s where a good bartending school comes in. Make no mistake – you need to bring something to the table!
Times are changing. Inexperienced bartenders can be an asset. Bar managers know this. I certainly do, and will hire someone with no experience – if they meet certain requirements. And bartending school helps meet one of those requirements.
Are you shy? Many times shyness is the reason that people take no action at all – in all areas of their life. Read more about conquering your shyness here.
What are those other requirements? Maybe some past customer service experience, you present yourself well, and bring something to the table. You need to show that bar manager that you’re serious about getting that job.
Inexperienced Bartenders Must Bring Something To the Table!
Let’s talk about bringing something to the table. When you sit down across from those bar managers who are interviewing you – they most likely have your resume in front of them. They already know that you have no bartending experience. So why should they even be interviewing you – let alone hire you as a bartender with no experience?
Here’s where attending a good bartending school comes in handy. I’m going to give you the perfect answer to the interviewer’s question about your lack of experience. Yep, right here at the very beginning of this course I’m going to teach you something that will increase your chances of getting that job by 1000%. Well, maybe not 1000%, but you get the idea.
Question: “I see here on your resume that you have no bartending experience. Why should I hire you Mark?”
Answer: “I’m fully aware that you’re probably interviewing people with a lot of bartending experience. But I’m here. I applied for this job knowing that I would be competing with others more experienced than I am. I’ve always wanted to be a bartender, so I decided to get proactive. I completed a really great Bartending School Course and know all of the common drinks and the basics of tending bar. I’ve spent the last few weeks observing and asking questions of bartenders while they were on the job. I purchased a liquor pouring kit and practice every day. And, I have a lot of customer service experience working at XYZ Company. I’m willing to bet that at the end of whatever training period you give to new bartenders, you’ll believe that you hired an experienced bartender. Despite the odds against me – I still came in and applied for this job. I’m here.”
Boom. That’s it. I guarantee that the bar managers are going to take a very close look at you. I would. I have. They may even begin to ask you a few basic bartending questions. If they do that – you’ve got a really good shot at the job.
Side Note: Now, this is just one interview question that I go over in the Advanced Bartending Class. Lots of details in the Advance Bartending Course that go into much more detail – on every interview question. I just wanted to show you where you can subtly let the interviewer know that you have attended bartending school to obtain basic skills. You’re bringing something to the table! Bartending school is an asset. I’m going to teach you stuff you won’t get in any other bartending school that will help you land your first bartending job!
OK – what about you, Mark? Did you go to Bartending School? You talk the talk – but can you walk the walk? I sure can…
My Bartending School Story:
I went to an “In Person” bartending school when I was 20 years old. Downtown San Diego, California.
Towards the end of my enlistment in the Marine Corps, I realized that I needed to find a job upon discharge. I saw an ad for a bartending school on TV and signed up.
I took the class and learned a lot – mostly drink recipes as well as the bar tools and bar set-up. 75% of the class was on drink recipes. 100’s of them. Honestly, during my entire bartending career I have made maybe around 10 – 20% of those drinks. Not much about customer service was taught. Nor were “common scenarios” in a bar atmosphere addressed.
The bartending school’s “hook” was that they would guarantee you a job. Liars. Anyway, I got a very nice “Bartender School Graduate” certificate and felt confident that I could start applying for jobs. I still have that certificate somewhere in my files.
A few weeks later, and immediately upon discharge from the Marine Corps, I moved back to my hometown in Minnesota and initially applied at around 5 places in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. A couple of them called me for an interview.
First interview was a bust, as it was a very busy nightclub and the bar manager who interviewed me looked at my resume, immediately noticed that I had no bartending experience, and said, “You’re in over your head, my friend.” Those are very close to his exact words. Discouraging, huh?
I wasn’t giving up easy, and mentioned that I had gone to bartending school, and had almost 4 years of experience in the restaurant and bar business while I was in high school.
The interviewer came back with something like, “ That’s great, but you really should be applying at bars that aren’t as busy as us – to get your feet wet. We hire only experienced bartenders.”
He was very kind and professional though, and told me to come back when I had a couple years’ experience. To this day, I’m wondering how I even got an interview since I had no experience. Must have slipped through a crack somehow.
Looking back, there is a lesson here. A couple of lessons, actually, but I’ll focus on this: Somehow, even though I had no experience, I did get an interview. That should tell you that if you do the work – you show up no matter what – you at least have a chance.
The second place that called me back for an interview was a gourmet bar & pizza joint. Huge bar, service bar, and very busy. Family owned, and this particular joint was their 8th or 9th location.
I was interviewed by the niece of the owner. Very nice lady, and she had my application, resume, and cover letter in her hands. (Yes, you better have a resume and cover letter in hand – even if you already turned one in on a previous visit). She immediately pointed out that they were a very busy bar – and I had no experience. It wasn’t looking good.
She commented on my experience while in high school – she liked the idea that I was at least familiar with the business. She then noticed that I had indicated, on either the application or my resume (I forget which one), that I had gone to bartending school.
I acknowledged that, and added that it was a basic class, but I had learned how to make most of the popular drinks and understood the importance of customer service – and some other small details.
She actually asked me if I had learned any drink recipes and some other minor stuff about bartending. She also asked additional questions about the bartending school.
Not realizing it at the time, I said something that would be instrumental in me getting the job: I don’t remember the exact words I used, but I explained that I knew bartending school was no substitute for actual experience, but I believed that with the vary basic “stuff” out of the way – I would be able to concentrate on becoming a great bartender by training under their current bartenders and management.
She then asked me some very common interview questions like when I was available, could I work nights and days, would I mind working in the service bar for the majority of my shifts, etc. You know – basic stuff. Of course, I said that I was available at any time and would work at whatever bar they wanted me to.
And then she started asking me questions about my life. Nothing real personal, just stuff like what I liked to do when I’m not working, what my hobbies were, was I a sports fan – things like that. (Later, when I went into management, I learned that these questions are designed to simply get the applicant talking. They want to get an idea of how I would carry on a conversation with a customer). Interesting, huh?
She then said thanks, they would be making a decision soon, and I may be called back for an interview with the bar manager. Overall, I thought the interview went fairly well, but she really didn’t give me any indication, one way or the other, if I was in the running for the job.
The interview lasted around 15 or 20 minutes if I remember correctly. Maybe more. To this day, it still remains one of the most thorough interviews I’ve ever had for a bartending position. Most are not this long – by any means.
I was called back two more times. Once to interview with the Bar Manager, and the third time with one of the owner’s friends who was the head bartender.
I got a call from the bar manager the day after the third interview, and they wanted to know if I could start working the coming weekend. They had 5 shifts, 40 hours a week ready to go if I wanted it. 2 days and 3 nights. They also specifically stated that 3 of those 5 shifts would be in the service bar. I accepted.
A few weeks into the job, the bar manager told me they took a chance on hiring an inexperienced bartender (me), because I presented myself well, I was the only applicant who wore a sport coat, and that I had taken some initiative by going to bartending school. He also told me that they had interviewed around 15 people – all of them experienced bartenders.
It’s important to note from the above two interview scenarios that I went through to show that I was probably applying at the wrong places. Or was I? I had no experience, and both of these bars were extremely busy. Yet, one of them hired me. You just never know, and if you’re written off because of no experience, here’s a tip: Ask the interviewer how much experience they require, and then inform them you will return at that time!
A Few Good Lessons Here:
- Attending bartending school is an asset
- No matter what – apply everywhere
- Always leave a cover letter and resume when first applying
- Find a way to “subtly” let them know that you may be inexperienced, but you have done all you can to get that initial bartending job
- Bars will take a chance on inexperienced bartenders who show initiative
- Perception is everything. Dress appropriately
- Do your absolute best to be available for any shift
And the Biggest Lesson of All:
Bars will hire inexperienced bartenders. Bartending School is a plus – and you should try and work it in somehow during the interview process. You have to bring something to the table! Never listen to the naysayers. Yes, you are at a disadvantage, but you just never know. Apply everywhere. It’s a numbers game, my friends.