You may already have some excellent Bartender candidates around you, in the form of your current barbacks. But, if you don’t, and are hiring a team of bartenders from scratch, you’re looking for bartenders with proven experience in the kind of establishment you have. This is more important than the number of years they’ve been bartending.
Bartending certification is desirable, as is alcohol safety training. Knowledge of a second language could be useful, depending on where you are. Also, if it gives you an edge over your competition, you may consider hiring someone with a specialization such as a sommelier (wine expert) or cicerone (beer expert).
These interview questions are mostly open-ended and situational and will encourage candidates to speak at length about their bartending experience. Outstanding candidates will be knowledgeable about popular and classic cocktails and will be opinionated about how to best pair these drinks with your menu items. They will be outgoing and will be able to upsell drinks without being too pushy. They’ll be reliable, hardworking, and will work well in teams.