Hiring for Attitude at Your Bar

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Hiring for Attitude at Your Bar

Hire for attitude, train for skills… how many times have you heard that phrase, bar owners?  It’s rock solid advice for hiring the best bar staff, but has anyone ever explained what it really means?  Hiring for attitude and training for skills takes a certain amount of skill on your part.  We spoke with some bar owners and managers who let this axiom guide them in their search for the best bar staff.  These folks shared some tips on who and how to do that.  Read on for the best bar business tips from Signal Connect.

Why You Should Hire for Attitude

When hiring for positions in your bar, it is normal to want someone who has plenty of relevant experience.  It would be ideal if these applicants worked for another bar because it would be easy to train them in the ways you do things at your business.  If you’re looking for skills only, you can make the mistake of overlooking some possible character flaws that would rule out some candidates.  For example, all the experience in the world is useless if your “star interviewee” doesn’t have good customer service skills.

Much of a bar’s perceived value comes from how your staff treats customers.  It doesn’t matter how great that bartender makes a martini if he or she is rude or indifferent toward the person who ordered it.  This could be the case if your new bar employee’s experience consists of short-term and sporadic employment at other bars around town.  There’s a good chance this person’s former employer let them go for good reasons.  (There’s a red flag for you.)  The person also could have a history of starting and quitting good jobs due to their own personality flaws.  (Another red flag.)

Hopefully, this information has helped you see why experience alone isn’t enough to make your hiring decision.  It’s just as important to hire people who are warm, friendly, and provide great customer service.  These are the people who make a great impression on customers.  They will be happy to come back, and many of them might become regulars.  So, as far the saying “hire for attitude, train for skill goes,” bar owners should pay close attention to how applicants come across during the interview process.

Hiring for Attitude: How To

We’d like to say this is easy, but the bar owners we spoke with said that’s not always the case.  The components of what makes a “good attitude” are highly subjective, and everyone perceives and measures these qualities differently.  That’s what makes these traits so hard to recognize, let alone manage.  In the end, “trust your instincts” was the best advice we got from the bar owners.  Many of them have been in this business game long enough to spot good (and bad) potential employees during interviews. 

Generally speaking, here are some of the qualities bar owners should look for when interviewing candidates:

  • A positive and appropriate attitude
  • Customer service experience
  • A good work ethic
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Makes good eye contact (A sign of confidence)

The candidate across the table might seem like they have all or most of these qualities.  That might be a good or bad thing, according to the bar owners we spoke with.  They reminded us that everyone puts their best foot forward during the interview process.  Bar owners only get to know who these applicants really are after they’ve worked in their bars for a while.  More than a few of the bar owners who spoke with us said sometimes the warm, bubbly person they thought they hired was just a show that the applicant put on to get the job.

There’s another downside to hiring for attitude and training for skill.  You could find a person who’s customer service skills are the best you’ve ever seen, but they just don’t have what it takes to work in your bar.  Remember, hiring for attitude and training for skills only works if the person is trainable.  After you’ve hired someone is the worst time to discover that that your new hire can’t hack it.  Fortunately, there’s a better way for bar owners like you.

Host a Trial Shift

A trial shift can be the best way to see if new hires have the right attitude and aptitude for the job.  It also lets the applicant know if you, your bar staff, and customers are a good fit for them.  (To be the employer of choice in your community, you have to understand that every employee has a choice of where to work.)  A trial shift is just like it sounds: it gives you and the applicant a commitment-free opportunity to see how they might work out at your bar.       

If you want to host a trial shift, do it during a time when your bar is busy… but not too busy.  Remember, you want to provide this person with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills.  You can’t do that if you’re bar is at capacity with thirsty patrons.  Pair the applicant up with one of your experienced staff members to show them the ropes.  (Don’t spend time training them on how to use your bar’s point-of-sale system since they might not end up getting hired.)  Be sure to observe how this new person interacts with customers and staff.

As you know, employment law varies from state to state.  Some places allow you to host a trial shift while other states do not.  Before you decide to host do this, it’s up to you research whether the employment laws in your state allows for such a thing.  Be sure to follow all your state’s labor laws.

Bonus Tip: DIRECTV for Your Bar

The above tips for hiring for attitude and training for skills can benefit your customers and your business.  If you enjoyed this information, check out the part two to this piece: Training for Skill at Your Bar.  For those who’d like a bonus tip, we have one: DIRECTV for bars and restaurants is a customer-pleasing addition to your business, too.  When you have this premier satellite TV service with a sports viewing package in your bar, many people will make your bar their game day destination.  These folks will stay longer than normal and order more food and drinks, and you’ll earn more revenue.

So, what’s the best way to get DIRECTV for your bar, pub, or tavern?  Reach out to Signal Connect, a DIRECTV Authorized Dealer.  Our team of customer service reps are commercial DIRECTV account experts.  From viewing packages to account activation, we pretty much do it all.  If you have questions or what to learn more, just fill out the form below and click “submit.”  A member of our team will follow up with you in one business day or less.