It is great to see that smaller grocery stores still exist, the the concept hasn’t died completely with the arrival of big shopping malls and online stores. Working is such a store can be a rewarding experience, especially when you enjoy talking to people and want to do something for the local community in your town or village.
Job interviews in grocery stores typically aren’t difficult. However, if you apply for a job in place where many people struggle with unemployment, or in a small town that doesn’t offer many job opportunities to the inhabitants, you can compete with quite a few other candidates, which makes your situation more difficult. Let’s have a look at 10 questions you may face, and how you should answer each one of them.
Why do you want to work in a grocery store?
They should not get an impression that this is your last option, or only option. Or that you are in only for money, because just like everyone else you need money to live, and it’s hard to get any other job for you.
Try to point out a few good things about working in a grocery store. You’d love to work with people from the local community, who happen to be the customer of the store, or even other employees. What’s more, you understand the importance of food–we need to eat to live, to be able to take care of all other roles we have in our life. Hence you see a meaningful purpose in this work, and do not consider it just some boring routine…
You can also refer to your skills that make from you a good applicant–communication skills, attention to detail, etc. Anything you talk about, try to show some enthusiasm for the work. That’s the most important thing for the hiring managers.
Do you have any previous working experience from retail?
If you worked in a store before, but aren’t anymore, they will certainly ask you why you left the job. Try to avoid negative comments about your former bosses or colleagues. Of course if the place closed down (just like many other small stores do every year), it’s easy to explain why you left and are looking for another job in retail.
Then you should explain what you were responsible for in your former retail jobs. Mention the duties you had, and do not forget to stress the importance of excellent customer service.
You can get this job also without any previous working experience in retail. Just ensure them that while you lack experience, you do not lack motivation. You read the job description carefully, and believe that with your skills you will quickly learn how to do the job in a most efficient way.
How do you imagine a typical day in this job?
It is important to show realistic expectations. Look around their store. What employees work there? If you’ll be the only person, if it is a small store, you should expect to do a lot of things. Among them:
- Opening the store in the morning, ensuring that everything is in place, ready for the day.
- Serving the customers as they come, helping them with their shopping.
- Restocking the shelves during the day, during the low times.
- Swiping the floor if necessary, or performing other cleaning duties in the store.
- Receiving the stock from the suppliers.
- At the end of the day locking the store, and perhaps even taking the money to a safe deposit in the bank.
In most cases there will be more employees, and you won’t respond for all the duties I mentioned. So consider the size of the store, number of employees, and any factors. Anyway, it’s better to mention more duties, so they see that you do not expect to sit at the cash desk only, from the start to the end of your shift…
This is repetitive job. What will motivate you to work hard day after day in our grocery store?
You have many options for a good answer. The simplest one is saying that you actually prefer routine and repetitive jobs. You do not like if things change too often, and prefer to have your routine, and actually enjoy it.
Another one is focusing on people. Surely, the tasks will repeat, but new customers will come to the grocery store. And even if the customers repeat, they come in different frames of mind, with new stories, and basically two days never really resemble each another, when you have the right attitude to work, and focus primarily on the customers.
You can also bet on brutal honesty. Perhaps this is the only job you can get right now, in this stage of your professional career, or in this city. And it means a lot for you to have a job. If they give you a chance they can be sure you will try your very best, regardless of the repetitiveness of work. Because you know that if you lost this opportunity, you might wait quite a long time for another one…
What are your weaknesses if we talk about a job of a grocery store clerk?
Basically you have two options for a good answer. One is saying that you aren’t aware of any weaknesses that will restrain you in the job. That’s why you chose it anyway. You have other weaknesses (you can name them), but they aren’t central for the job in a grocery store, at least in your opinion.
Another idea is is picking a weakness that actually matters somehow. For example maybe you struggle to pay attention to details, or aren’t really punctual (and have arrived to your last job late several times). In this case you can turn things around, and say that you see a job in a grocery store as a great opportunity to get rid of your weakness. You can’t afford to be late at this place, and hence you will finally learn to wake up early, and to manage your morning routines better, to eventually arrive on time.
What is your availability?
You may get this question especially when you apply for a part time job in a grocery store. And the key is to show them that the job is actually high on the list of your priorities–perhaps right after school, or on the same level like the other part time job you have.
Try to prepare an exact schedule for the entire week, specifying what days and hours you can work in their grocery store. And you shouldn’t say something like that you cannot work on Sunday because of your religious beliefs, especially if the store is open every Sunday. It doesn’t mean that you have to work on all weekends, but you should be willing to work on some at least.
How important is teamwork for you?
Right answer to this one depends again on the size of the store, and whether you’ll have colleagues or not. If it is a very small grocery store and you’ll be there alone more of the time, you can say that teamwork isn’t particularly important to you. You can handle your duties, you can work independently, without a constant supervision.
On the contrary, if it is a bigger grocery store and you see many people moving around, complementing each other with their work, you should stress the importance of teamwork, and assure your interviewers that you are a team player, and try to be attentive to the needs and emotions of your colleagues.
How would you describe an ideal boss?
The most important thing is to avoid any reference to gender, age, or religion. Saying that you prefer an older boss can easily backfire, if the store manager happens to be a young lad…
I suggest you to refer to communication, or saying there’s no such thing like a perfect boss. In the first case, you emphasize the importance of open communication in the workplace. A good boss is the one who can express their thoughts clearly, so the employees know what they are supposed to do. They should also be receptive to the feedback from their subordinates.
In the second case, you can say that everyone has some strengths and weaknesses. Instead of looking for perfection, you try to accept people as they are. And since you respect the hierarchy in the store, you will also respect the boss and their orders.
How would you define a great customer service?
You can say that a customer should feel welcome and respected from the first moment in the store to the last. Perhaps you greet them with smile, ask them how they are doing. You will watch them in the corner of your eye, and if they seem like struggling with their choice, or not being able to find something, you will quickly approach them and help.
And of course you won’t let them waiting, so if you are stocking shelves and they approach the cash desk, you will quickly interrupt your work and attend them.
You can also talk about the outcome of an excellent service–if the customers return to the store again and again, and perhaps also recommend it to their peers, it certainly means that you (and your colleagues in the store), are doing a great job, delivering a service that meets, or even exceeds their expectations.
What are your salary expectations?
Salaries in grocery stores are on the low end. And you should show realistic expectations. If you aren’t sure how much other clerks are earning in the store, say that you will happily accept their standard starting salary for new hires.
Of course after working for them for some time, when you prove your skills and motivation, there should be some room for a raise, or perhaps even for a promotion…
Ready to ace your grocery store interview? Not yet? Then you should continue your preparation with the following articles:
- Guide on how to overcome interview nerves – Do not let the stress to kill your chances in the interviews.
- How would you define outstanding customer service – 7 sample answers to this common retail interview question.
- Salary negotiation tips – Maybe there is some room for negotiation in your interview. Learn how to get at least a slightly better offer at the end of your meeting with the managers.