Bartender training is a tough job. It takes time to develop the relationships and workflow that make any service industry gig worthwhile. Sometimes, by the time you get a new job, you may not have the luxury of stressing over whether it’s a good “fit” or not.
Of course, if you’re super hard up for money, you may have to take what you can get. That said, we don’t want you to accept a job that will ultimately make you miserable. Here are some things to look out for during your bartender training shifts that can give you a better overall idea about the establishment and the position as a whole.
How do the Managers and Staff Interact?
This is a big one, and thus, number one on the list. Every bartender or server knows that the difference between a crappy job and one you love; many times comes down to management. So, during your first few shifts, take a look at how the staff reacts to their higher-ups. Do they roll their eyes when the boss walks away? Are they comfortable and relaxed, yet remain respectful? It has been my experience that my relationship with a manager can make or break a job.
If the staff seems comfortable approaching the boss with problems and mistakes that need fixing, and the manager reacts in an understanding and professional way, that’s a good sign.
What are the Shifts Like?
It’s important to understand what you’re getting into as far as shifts go. I’ve seen many a place where they sort of “feel” like they need someone else, but in reality they’re overstaffed. This leads to a lot of tension between colleagues, and possibly less money for you.
Ask some relevant questions like, “What will my shifts be?” and “Is it a set schedule?” You obviously want to do a great job and it may be an amazing establishment to work for, but if there’s not enough shifts, or more shifts than you feel you can handle, it might make sense to walk away sooner versus later.
Who Cuts Who and When?
In every place I’ve ever worked except one, getting cut is a huge source of stress and frustration for the staff. It can range from the downright unreasonable to the totally inconsistent. So, if you’ll be on the night shift, try to figure out who gets out when and who makes that decision.
Being released at an appropriate time may mean the difference between a good night’s rest and an insufficient one. It also can affect your wallet. It may be super busy for happy hour, but if you’re tipping someone else out until 3 am, the money may be a disappointment.
What’s the Food Like?
This one’s pretty simple. This is, most likely, the food you’ll be eating almost every day, sometimes twice a day! If it sucks, that could be a real bummer for your stomach and your health. Similarly, if you have to keep apologizing to customers and comping their bills because of subpar fare, it could turn into a real drain on your paycheck.
Speaking of Paychecks…
Please don’t let this be a mystery to you. You have a right to know how much you’ll be making (including training) and how often. Will your tips come in a check? How do they tax you? These are all things to keep track of and fair questions to ask an employer before you start the job.
Restaurants and bars often give the impression that being asked to train is not the same as being hired. If that’s their attitude, then you should take the necessary steps to train them in and see if it will be a good fit for both of you.