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What To Look For When Hiring Event Staff: 6 Key Traits

September 21, 2022 by The Cocktail Service

Hospitality work rewards a whole boat load of different people with places for extroverts, introverts and everything in between.

As leaders in the UK events and drinks scene, we’ve learned the characteristics of exceptional event staff over the years.

Every staff member is unique of course, but if you’re hiring event staff and they don’t have any of the key attributes listed below, it might be time to reconsider.


A brand ambassador engaging with customers at Imbibe 2018

Whether you’re working on a customer facing event like a brand activation or serving cocktails from a mobile cocktail bar at an event, communication is vital.

Getting messages to resonate with the public is really the be all and end all for a brand activation activity.

When we’re working on campaigns like the Red Bull Latitude Festival Activation it was vital that our team communicated in a way which fitted the brand values for client Red Bull.

Similarly, at the recent Bowmore Whisky Launch, our team needed to be able to share their knowledge of whisky when suggesting serves to industry experts and whisky connoisseurs.

An effective communicator can relay information in an engaging, clear and empowering way to help the workers enact the plan, and any last-minute amendments with confidence.

Communicating clearly and picking up on non-verbal signals are essential to catching potential problems dead in their tracks.

If things get tough, you need someone who is going to give the team the direction and vision to make it through. Maybe it’s a busier than expected service, or an unpredictable guest.

Making sure your staff can keep their voice and words professional under pressure is something only the very best have learnt to master.

Which brings us onto our next point…

A level head

A swan on a lake

Working at large-scale, fast-paced events like Goodwood Festival and high end events like the Moskovskaya Embassy Launch means we require our staff to epitomise a popular moniker in hospitality called “Swan Theory”.

It is the idea that no matter how much stress and pressure you are under, or effort you are exerting.

You must always look cool, calm, and collected, gliding between workstations and orders.

When you imagine a swan, they look very serene above the water but underneath the surface, they’re speedily kicking their legs so they can stay afloat.

Expert Tip: always run a practical activity during your hiring events. Try to mimic actual service as much as you can – multiple orders needing to be fulfilled quickly and efficiently. Can the candidate remember a complicated order and stay cool?

A philanthropic attitude

The Cocktail Service bar team

Another attribute to look out for when hiring event staff is those who genuinely care about their customers.

A positive attitude towards the job that needs to be done can elevate your product and service into an experience that is truly memorable.

Here at The Cocktail Service, we screen all of our bar staff extensively so you know you’ll be assigned someone with a genuine passion for making people smile.

They might have volunteered at a charity shop or given one of our scouts extra special service.

We’ve combed the country for the very best in hospitality and we believe if you want to hire bar staff you should be looking for this too!

Expert Tip: look for those who offer assistance or tips to others in the group. These are likely the team members who will go the extra mile for your guests.

Leadership Potential

An event manager hiring event staff briefs the team

It shouldn’t matter if they are working in a small team at a party or hosting brand defining events for B2B customers.

Being able to read the room, take the reins and provide support to colleagues is something that translates across many industries.

In such tight-knit, close working teams you must have people who can make decisions while you’re busy running your event.

Leadership must be learned on every level, to truly anticipate any outcome.

When you’re not there, the supervisor is in charge, if they have to leave to get change or stock, the bartender is then in charge.

It is important that all staff members have the confidence and delegated authority to do their job properly.

Expert Tip: run some activities with an assigned leader, mixing up who takes this role each time. Then run an activity without an assigned leader. Who steps up?

Team Player

The Cocktail Service staff assemble at Martini Tower

Hiring people who can build on criticism is essential in a fast-paced environment.

Pulling off one of our famous Martini tower installations is no easy feat, and the potential for error is high.

Not taking things to heart when offered feedback, and finding solutions rather than compounding the problem with emotional decision making will do wonders for the cohesion of your workforce.

Expert Tip: offer constructive criticism during your hiring exercise activities to see how the candidates take it on board. Do they listen and change their approach?

Getting stuck in and helping out your staff every now and again if you have time, will boost moral during busy periods.

Leading from the front has proven throughout history to be an effective way of rallying support in high stress situations.

Good knowledge of the industry

TCS bartenders serving Bowmore Whisky at an activation for the Masters' Selection

Knowing products, their competitors and the market that particular brand or event is for is a key skill.

Staff who show this quality will be able to correctly serve and accommodate each different consumer base to their specific needs.

Working on projects such as the Thomas Dakin Gin Brand Activation requires staff who know their spirits and how to showcase the particular highlights of a brand.

When hiring event staff it’s also a good idea to see who they have previously worked with in the industry.

Relationships with key suppliers are built whilst on the job.

Most bartenders that work in management have a few relationships with various brand reps and suppliers in their area.

This can be beneficial while securing funding, promotion or stock for your event.

Expert Tip: ask the candidate a product related question, or a question based on the services you offer. This will show their knowledge and whether they’ve researched you prior to applying.

What is the #1 key attribute to look for when hiring event staff?

It can be a minefield trying to find someone who is the right fit for your brand.

If your staff have the correct training, attitude and recompense for their work – this in turn will guarantee you a solid footing for events in the future.

Get it wrong, and you’ll feel the pain as your carefully planned event or activation falls to pieces around you.

The six characteristics listed above are our guide when hiring event staff.

If we were pushed, we’d say that communication is the most important quality of a good event worker.

Brand messages, or a knowledge of the products being served can be taught, but if your staff can’t convey information clearly to customers or team members, you’ll be in a pickle.


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