Expert Topic The Insider’s Guide on How to Interview Like a Boss to Get Your Dream Job

According to the Brewers Association, craft brewers employed over 191,000 individuals in 2023 in the U.S. Are you hoping to be one of them or looking to advance your position in the industry? If so, this article teaches you how to think about the job you are interviewing for to get the craft brewery job you really want.

I have spent the past 20+ years learning the art and science of recruiting, including personally hiring hundreds of individuals and interviewing thousands. When I started a craft brewery with my cousins back in 2005, one of the first lessons learned was how important it was to define not just the work we needed done (writing a job description aka the WHAT), but the type of individual (aka the WHO) that was excited and aligned to our mission and vision as one of the first organic breweries on the West coast of the U.S.. We sat down one Saturday afternoon after closing the tasting room and created a scorecard that became our hiring north star for every person we would ever hire from a Keg Delivery Driver to a Head Brewer and everything in between.

What were the components of the scorecard and how can YOU think about the job you are interviewing for so that you can craft your story to align with the brewery hiring team on the other side of the table to get the craft brewery job you really want?

Getting referred by a current employee for a job should be your strategy for getting the interview.

Do your homework on the brewery, the founders, the staff and the business, even if it’s an internal position. Act as if there are 5 other external candidates from other local breweries interviewing for the same job. Sometimes it’s a “beauty pageant” and a formality for you to get the job, many times it’s not and the hiring team wants to see what the market looks like.

If it’s an external role, do even more homework. Talk to your network, current employees and former employees. For example, ask current employees 3 questions: why did you join the company, why do you stay, what would make you leave? (hint: it’s more than a bicycle on your 1-year service anniversary although that is a very cool tradition by one well-known craft brewer). Talk to customers and ask them to describe why they love the brewery. Use this during your interview. It demonstrates your level of interest and initiative and helps you stand out from the crowd.

Behind the barrel, what do most hiring teams and managers look for?

Skills: Have you acquired the skills (and learned from making mistakes) to do the job?

Behaviors: How do you present yourself and how would your former colleagues describe working with you? At Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, we knew we could teach skills, but we couldn’t teach behaviors. If you aren’t a team player who loves problem solving, you will never learn to be a team player who loves to solve problems.

Achievements: What have you been able to achieve/accomplish? Introducing new processes? Solving the problems of scaling a growing business? Creating a consistent, quality product that customers love? Building a loyal customer community of advocates for the brand?

Motivation: (the most important question): Why do you want to be a part of our story and why are you motivated to want to do this job here at our company?

What are 3 practical tips to help YOU to tell your story and to interview effectively?

Apply some basic behavioral interviewing techniques and then reverse engineer them as a candidate. A good interviewer (there aren’t many) should ask you to share a relevant story such as, “tell me about a time when you did this, what happened, what was the result?” to help understand your level of experience, job mastery and behavioral traits for a specific instance. For you to be prepared for these kinds of interviews, use the S.B.O. technique:

Situation (this is what was going on–we were brewing 24/7 and had some bad batches).

Behavior (this is how I dealt with it–I had to take the time to stop the process, analyze where we missed some steps and fix our QA process).

Outcome (this is the result and what I learned–”there were never any shortcuts and we had to produce a consistently great IPA if we wanted customers to come back.”

Have 2-3 stories in your back pocket that you can draw from your own experience that are directly relevant to the role (craft brewing industry specific if possible) you are interviewing for that showcase what makes you different and why you are a culture add (not a culture fit) to this company. What do you bring that doesn’t exist today?

Have questions prepared. Even if you can’t think of questions, you should ALWAYS have questions. Questions like “how would you describe the culture here at the company” or “tell me about your career journey in craft brewing and some of the experiences that shaped your decision to pursue them?”

Remember most interviewing teams spend one minute reviewing your resume or LinkedIn profile or application right before your interview. It’s your job to control the flow of the interview and to establish a connection, quickly understand what “good looks like” to the hiring team and use your personal story to demonstrate how what makes you the right candidate at the right point on your career trajectory brings your unique talents and attributes to the table. There is only one you. Everyone else is taken.

Be bold and fearless!

Image credit: Freepik

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