Assess Candidates Before the Interview

Barbacks and bussers are critical to keeping busy bars and floors running smoothly. They’re also a good source for future bartenders and wait staff. Take a page from the big corporations and put some strategy into hiring. To snag a great barback or busser candidate, you need to improve your vetting process.

Here’s what to look for specifically when filling these entry-level positions:

Mind Reader

Well maybe not literally, but barbacks and bussers need to anticipate every need. They should be proactive, replenishing, clearing and cleaning before being asked. This ensures that you can serve customers without missing a beat.

Fast and Quick-Witted

As with most hospitality jobs, speed is important. Moving with purpose and being quick is a necessary skill. Physical speed is key, as is staying mentally sharp. Those with experience working in fast-paced restaurants will likely have what it takes.

Master of Observation

A barback or busser should always take notice of what is happening around them. He or she should be able to take direction and learn how the rest of the staff operates in order to work with them. Additionally, an observant employee is constantly soaking up information — the more they understand, the smoother the job will be.

Multitasking Phenom

A great barback or busser always has a running list of tasks to be completed. For instance, if there’s a need for clean plates, extra straws, clean rags and a bottle of mezcal, retrieving the four items with one trip to the back is a great way to streamline replenishment and save time. This way, staff can get ahead of things rather than playing catchup for an entire shift.


A busy team works moves and communicates as a unit. If one person is out of place, things can more easily spill, fall, and break. A good barback pays close attention to this delicate ballet and knows how to move without impeding others. One well-placed hand on the bartender’s back while balancing glassware can save the day.

When sifting through candidates, keep these five traits in mind. As you know, high-performing support staff can make all the difference in a busy service, including improving sales. To help filter great candidates from thousands of applicants, consider the Bikelane Hire tool. A 30-day free trial can help secure better hires, faster.