I’ve been fortunate enough to hold perhaps a dozen or so bartending gigs over the last 18 years. Some of those gigs have lasted several years. Other seasonal or event spots lasted just a few days. Some – well – have fallen somewhere in between, for whatever reason. I’ve also had the opportunity to manage; being on the other side of the interview table. I’ve spoken to hundreds of candidates and reviewed their requisite resumes. Like all hiring managers – I’ve consciously and intuitively made attempts to judge them up and down on everything from the lettuce in their teeth, to their odor, to which shoes they’re wearing, the hesitation to answering certain questions, and the speed and ease which with they fashion cocktails when I’ve told them to get behind the bar to prepare drinks X, Y and Z.
I started yet another bartending gig a couple of weeks ago after being out of work for nearly two freaking months. Being unable to find acceptable employment and blowing through savings for that long is, how shall we say… unnerving? I’m sure many of you can relate. It’s not as if I wasn’t looking or wasn’t utterly over-qualified in the venues I was applying to. There has been an unusual seismic shift in the New York City bartending air recently – one which I’m far from accustomed to. In my experience, I’ve never, ever gone more than 2 or 3 interviews without getting hired. To get my latest gig, I swear I’d been through about 20 or so interviews as well as 5 or 6 callbacks (second interviews) in about 6 weeks. For me, that’s downright shocking and unacceptable given my (1) extensive NYC experience (2) always-on game face (3) interview knowledge and skills and (4) forgive my audacity… appearance.
After my seasonal gig ended in October, I did manage to find a seemingly great gig in another Meatpacking spot right away, albeit in another mega-corporate, mega-conglomerate establishment with their hard and fast rule-book. It didn’t last only because we could not come to a consensus on schedule even though I had clearly stated my availability during the application process. Basically, I can’t fucking work repeated opening shifts due to my other obligations (read: day job). That little tidbit really puts a damper on finding a great bartending position as the majority of hiring managers are seeking nearly complete flexibility. Restaurant bars are essentially out of the question, in my case. Unless you have seniority, or are sexing the G.M., you really can’t demand only night shifts. That basically left me nightclubs and some pubs as only options. So be it.
I mean look… I’m old and experienced enough to know that interviewing in this industry is often akin to an acting/modeling cattle-call from several perspectives. You do not get excited and put your proverbial eggs in one bartending/serving basket. That’s simply stupid. However, I’ve managed to sometimes break my own rules as a result of a particular interview or two where I’ve really bonded with the owners/managers, sometimes going so far as to have them engage me in highly personal, salacious speak – laughing and joking as if we had known each other for years.
If you haven’t noticed, this town is uber-competitive in every calling – even McDonald’s piss-boy positions. The higher-paying, easier, and more prestigious the job, the more difficult getting hired becomes (again, unless you’re blessed enough look like bobble-head, trophy-GF Kate Upton, Bar Rafaeli or some reasonable facsimile).
That said, for your reading pleasure, I’ve compiled a list of why you may not be getting the job your heart so desires, tho you swear up and down the dude/chick loved you to pieces during the interview: