It is not difficult to get a job of a cashier, for two main reasons. First of all, there are many job openings for this position, and big retailers are always hiring, since the job hopping rates are high across the board. Typically you won’t compete with more than one or two other people for the job (you will actually often be the only applicant, especially when we talk about interviews in small retail stores or grocery stores in particular).
Secondly, you can get this job regardless of your previous experience and education. It is actually one of the most common jobs for high school students, or for people who were not lucky enough to graduate from high school. All you have to do to succeed is convincing your interviewers of your motivation, responsibility, and readiness for the job. Do not worry if you have never done the same work before–you will get a training before you start working. Let’s have a look at the questions they will ask you.
Please tell me about yourself
An icebreaker question. Basically everyone qualifies as a job candidate for a position of a cashier, hence it isn’t important to talk about relevant job experience (should you have some). The hiring managers simply try to get an idea of your communication skills, and personality, and motivation, when asking you to introduce yourself in this interview.
You can say who you are, where you are from, whether you are still studying, what you enjoy doing in your free time. The most important thing is to talk with some enthusiasm. They should get an impression that you are happy to be in the room with them, interviewing for a job of a cashier in their retail store. You won’t this job, and not merely desperately need it.
Why do you want to be a cashier?
Say that you are responsible, do not mind routine work, and will learn the job quickly. If you had the same position before, you can emphasize that you enjoyed it (at least to some extent, for example your interactions with customers), and can handle the cash counter quickly, maximizing the number of customers you serve each hour, and minimizing their waiting time.
At this point you can also explain why you need the job in general. If you’re still studying, you probably opted for this position because of flexible schedule, part time opportunities, and chance to get it without any previous working experience. Or maybe you enjoy the fast-paced environment of a retail store, thrive in such, or prefer it to other jobs you can realistically get at this stage of your professional career.
If a customer accused you of a bad service, what would you do?
Say that you count with such a behavior. Say that you always try your best, and listen attentively to the feedback from the customers. At the same time, however, you would not let any negative remarks to affect you emotionally in work, or impact the way in which you serve other customers.
You will simply get over their bad words and move to the next customer. Of course, if you feel like it is important to report some incident to the manager, or involve them in the case in any way, you will do so. In most retail establishments, managers and their assistants are responsible for solving complaints of the customers.
* May also interest you: Crew member interview questions and answers.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Just make sure to mention attention to detail and responsibility. These two are really important for a cashier. Saying that you are hardworking also counts, since supermarkets get incredibly busy at times, and you’ll barely take a break on some shifts. Of course you can go also with obvious strengths that help in any job, such as great communication skills or always being on time.
When it comes to your weaknesses, you should avoid saying something that would be a showstopper in the interview for a job of a cashier, for example that you struggle with punctuality, or have soft spot for drinking or drugs, or that Math is your serious weakness :). Any other weakness you pick you will be fine, just ensure them that you want to improve on it down the road.
This job is repetitive. What will you do to stay motivated in work?
Say that you do not mind repetitive work, that you actually enjoy it. You can even say that customers change every day, that you enjoy the small chit-chat you’ll have with them while performing your job, and won’t get bored in work. Or you can go with any other reason that helps you to maintain your motivation and focus.
Another option is claiming that 90% of jobs are repetitive in nature–which is true, so you do not see it as a drawback. You know why you go to work, and do not see a reason why you’d lose your motivation just because of the repetitiveness of certain tasks.
If a supervisor asked you to change the way your job was performed even though you knew you were doing it right, what would you do?
You should respect the hierarchy in the store. It is the duty of the supervisor the consider the quality of your work, and to tell you how to do it. They will be responsible for any negative effects, not you. Say that you would follow their orders.
Of course, you will give them your feedback, because you care for the eventual results, and the satisfaction of the customers. You will explain, in a calm voice, why you do what you do, and why you consider their suggestion wrong. But that’s the end of the story, and you will accept their final decision.
How long do you want to work as a cashier here?
While employers do not expect you to have a role of a cashier for several years, they still prefer to hire people who are serious about the job, and won’t leave in three months time. You can say that you do not have any plans to change your job once you get it, and will see what the future will bring.
Alternatively you can elaborate on your answer, saying why you’d keep the job longer. Perhaps you want to have a part-time cashier job during your studies, which you plan to continue for the next three years. Of course, you do not have to stick to the promises you make in the interviews. If something better shows up, or if your plans change, you can simply leave the job in a month or two or whatever.
Other questions you may face in your interview for a cashier job
- Describe a situation when you found it hard to be courteous. Perhaps you didn’t like some customer, or someone was really rude with you, or had stupid remarks. It is completely natural to find it hard to be courteous in such a situation. But you should say that you still tried your best, since it is important to maintain a good level of customer satisfaction.
- What are your weaknesses? Focus on things that are not central for the job, and ensure the interviewers that you continue working on your skills and abilities. (click the question for a longer article on this particular question with sample answers)
- If you receive a 20 dollar bill for a $3.71 order, explain how you would add up the change. A simple question, but you should not take it lightly. Calculate the coins, and always try to use the lowest possible number of coins. This helps you to work quickly, which matters for the hiring managers.
- What can you contribute to the company as a cashier? No need for some fancy words here. Just say that you can be another friendly and responsible member of their team, someone both customers and colleagues can rely on. Of course if you have some “special skill”, or something that really stands out, you can mention it here.
- What do you consider the most difficult thing about this job? Perhaps the routine, or dealing with a heavy workload (in a rush hour), or staying courteous with angry or stupid customers. You should show the interviewers that you see the job realistically, with both good and bad things that belong to it.
- How do you imagine a typical day in work? Show them that you like to be busy in work. Do not mention many working breaks, or other things that will distract you from your job. You can even say that when there won’t be any customers to serve, you will help to stock the goods or do other stuff in the store. In reality you may go and smoke a cigarette outside, or chat with a colleague, but in an interview it’s better to show proactive approach to work.
- What is your availability? Make sure to prepare your schedule in advance. You should be able to clearly explain when you can work as a cashier and when you cannot, due to other obligations such as school, family, second job, etc. At the same time, however, you should show some flexibility. Most retail places are open 7 days in a week, and you should be able to work at least some weekends.
Special Tip: Download all questions in a simple, one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later (even when offline):
Interviews differ in small and big companies
If you apply for a cashier job in a small store, they will likely ask you only a few questions about your motivation, availability, and experience. The people talking to you won’t be professional interviewers (store owner or manager will lead an interview with you), and if you make a good impression on them, they will hire you. Use our hints to learn how to answer the common questions.
If you apply in a big store, however, you can expect to deal with some behavioral questions, and perhaps also with a personality test. These companies run specialized HR departments, they know how to conduct interviews, and typically more people apply for the jobs with them. The competition is higher, and you will have to do well to actually get a job with some of them….
What to wear to a cashier interview?
The rule of a thumb you should remember is the following one: Wear the clothes you’d wear to work. I remember several times seeing students overdoing it with their interview attire, dressing to impress… But cashier is not a manger.
When they see you wearing shirt and tie, they may easily start thinking that you expect something else from the job, that you enjoy wearing fancy clothes and sending smiles left and right. Nothing wrong with it, just it’s not the right attitude to have if you want to do a good job behind the cash desk.
I suggest you to wear jeans and t-shirt, or a nice dress if it’s a hot summer day. Keep it clean and neat, but do not wear anything fancy or super expensive. Interviewers observe a lot of things while talking to you, and some things they notice without thinking about them. If you look like someone who enjoys spending hundreds of dollars on expensive clothing, they won’t hire you for this job. Keep it on your mind when choosing clothes for your interview…
Ready to succeed? Not yet? Continue your interview preparation with InterviewPenguin.com, your best job interview coach since 2011:
- How to overcome interview nerves – 4 steps guide on how to get rid of anxiety before your interview.
- How to dress for an interview – Every detail matters. Five steps guide on picking the right clothes for your interview.
- 15 most common interview questions – Where do you see yourself in five years from now? How would you describe a great boss? What motivates you? Learn how to answer questions that you can get in any job interview.