Stop me if there's already a hidden thread on this topic . . .

We're getting ready to do some hiring at the espresso cart, what are some key interview questions you all have used? How about some other techniques to find that hidden coffee geek who's just dying to be a barista?

Thanks!

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when i do interviews, i always offer them a drink to see what they order. if they order a super-sugary frappe i know the interview is probably not going to end in me hiring them, but i'll give a short interview to give them a chance. you never know. a lot of people think they don't like coffee because they've never had GOOD coffee. that's how i was for the first 21 years of my life...then i tried gimme coffee, cuvee coffee and espresso vivace...yum.

if they don't arrive 5 minutes early they probably won't get the job. we take our coffee seriously and i want our baristas to take their craft seriously. if you can find people with restaurant experience or people who just enjoy food and cooking, that's the ticket. wine/beer/cheese afficionados are a great asset. i just hired a girl with a good amount of wine tasting experience and she took to coffee cupping super fast. instantly great at it.

at the end of the interview i always have candidates try two different coffees - one blend and one single origin. i don't tell them which is which. i have them describe the two and tell me which is the blend and which is the origin. i explain to them at the beginning of this tasting that i don't expect them to be perfect...i just want them to tell me what they can taste.

the important part here is that some baristas i've hired have been instantly great at this task. some weren't...but the important thing was that they got really excited about trying the two coffees and expressed great interest in learning more. if a candidate just gets stressed when they try the coffees and doesn't seem excited about it, i probably wouldn't hire them. coffee should ignite passion in a future barista.
I'll just share 2 of the techniques that we use, which address a taste for coffee and service.

Before giving the first interview, our candidates have already admitted to being regular coffee drinkers. It's a job requirement.
During the interview I offer them a choice of espresso-based drinks, and I notice to what degree they seemed to enjoy it. It doesn't make or break the interview, but it's just one ingredient.

Also, I usually drop something on the floor "accidentally" (like my pen or eyeglasses) to see if they are attentive and service-minded enough to react and pick them up for me. Again, it doesn't determine whether I hire or not, its just trying to gauge their personality as best as possible in a short time.

We also have good luck hiring people with fast-food experience, even if they're not baristas.

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