IKEA has been ruling the furniture retail scene for the last two decades, becoming the biggest furniture retailer in the world in 2008. Contrary to their competitors, IKEA does not open dozens of locations in each country. Typically they open just a few, and a warehouse, which is something they can afford with the popularity of their brand. Most people will have no issue with traveling several hundred miles to the nearest IKEA store, checking the Swedish ready-to-assemble furniture, and opening their wallet at the end of their visit to the store, often spending much more as they originally planned. Working in IKEA is another story altogether…
The employee fluctuation is not as high as with many other retail giants. Still, with over 100,000 people employed across the IKEA group (stores, warehouses, investments), the company is almost always hiring, for a variety of jobs. If you apply for some specialty role in IT, marketing, or product management, you should search job interview questions for the specific job title. If you you apply for a common job in a store or a warehouse, however–sales associate, stock clerk, team member, warehouse associate, and similar, you can expect to get some personal and situational questions from the hiring managers. Let’s have a look at them, one by one.
Why do you want to work for IKEA?
IKEA is a specific and successful concept of furniture retail, and you should definitely point it out in your answer. Say them that you like the brand, have their furniture at home, enjoy the shopping experience, and in general you consider it better than the experience with other retailers–of furniture, or of anything else. You can even praise the founder–Ingvar Kamprad, because all managers at IKEA know him and like him.
Another good idea is talking about IKEA values, togetherness in particular, and caring for people and planet. You can say that it strongly resonates with you, and you’d love to become a part of such a company culture. Of course, if you’ve been working with furniture, or are generally enthusiastic about furniture and home improvement, you can mention it as well. One way or another, they should get an impression that IKEA is your first choice, and you did not apply with them by a mere chance.
Can you tell us more about your previous working experience?
You do not necessarily need previous experience to get hired. But when more people compete for limited number of vacancies, and that is the case almost always with IKEA, any experience will help you to stand out and walk away with the job contract.
In an ideal case, you should explain how your previous experience prepared you for the role with IKEA. Maybe you had similar duties, or you’ve worked in a similar environment. It can also happen that you’ve worked for a company with completely different values, for example one that tried nothing but maximize their profits. And you didn’t like such an attitude, and decided to leave. Looking for different values, you came across IKEA.
When lacking experience, try to show confidence in your ability to handle the job. Maybe you haven’t worked in retail before. But you’ve been a customer often, and have the experience from the other side of the table. What’s more, you read the job description carefully, and believe that after the on the job training, you’ll handle your duties. Motivation and willingness to work hard matter more than experience for the store managers at IKEA. Show them that you have it within you…
What can you bring onboard as a new IKEA employee?
Now it is time to connect your strengths and personality with the job. You can simply point out a few abilities that without a doubt matter in a furniture retail store (or in the warehouse). Responsibility, excellent communication skills, going above and beyond for the customer, passion for simple yet beautiful furniture, teamwork, aspiration to make a career with the company, and so on.
Another alternative is picking something special about you, be it a unique trait, experience, ability. Simply something that characterizes you, and IKEA can either benefit from, or at least it will help with the diversity in their team. And if you cannot come to anything better, you can always say that you are ready to bring onboard an excellent attitude to work, and a motivation to try your best for each and every customer. They sometimes change this question to “What makes you unique?“, but basically the answer is the same for both variations of the question.
What is the favorite room of your house and why?
With this one they are testing your attitude to furniture, but also attitude to other people and teamwork. For example, saying that kitchen is your favorite room because that’s where you meet with the members of your family “team”, to discuss the day and have a nice dinner together, is a great idea. Since IKEA promotes family values and togetherness, the answer will resonate with many recruiters.
Another alternative is picking your living room, talking about different furniture pieces you have there, how they make for a pleasant place together. Needless to say, at least some of them should have a Swedish design, and come from IKEA. As you can imagine, a nice discussion can follow, about the trends in furniture, or just about your house in general. And that’s a big plus in an interview, especially if you can keep the discussion going with to the point questions & answers.
Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.
This question is common in many retail interview, and IKEA is no exception. Now, unless they define what exactly the “difficult customer” means, you can talk about a variety of customers. One that has endless questions, one who complains about the price or your service, a customer who doesn’t understand even the simplest instructions, or even one who is inviting you for a dinner repeatedly, while all you want to do is to sell them a piece of furniture.
In all these instances, you should say that you tried your best to stay calm. You didn’t get angry with the customer, and didn’t get involved into pointless arguments. On the contrary, you did your best to address their request, and make them happy about the service you delivered. You can even add that you know you’ll have to deal with some difficult customers, and feel ready to do it with smile and courtesy.
Tell us about a time that you did something without a manager’s approval and how did it turn out?
Let’s face it: IKEA store (or a warehouse) isn’t a place where you’ll always have a manager nearby. And though they will train you, and tell you what to do and how to deal with different situations that happen commonly in the job, you will still face the unexpected at times, and will have to make a decision and take action without consulting the manager.
In such a case, you should decide according the values IKEA promotes, and simply do the best thing for the company. And you should refer to such a situation from the previous job. It can be a situation with a customer, with the merchandise, or even a situation with the colleague. Show them that you carry the right inner compass–your values, and when unsure what to do, you simply do the best things for the company and for the collective in the workplace, following the directions of your inner compass. And ensure them that you can take action without always waiting for a manager to give you a green light.
Other questions you may face in your interview with IKEA
- What are your core values?
- How would you go about offering a different product when a customer have their mind set on a particular one?
- Tell us about a time when you felt overwhelmed with work.
- How do you handle stressful situations?
- The job in IKEA store (or a warehouse) can be quite repetitive. What will motivate you to try your best every day?
- Tell us about an obstacle you overcame.
- After everything we’ve discussed here, do you want to add something, or do you have any questions?
Final thoughts, next steps
IKEA is a popular place of work, and they do not advertise as many vacancies as some other retail giants. For this reason, and considering the current economic climate, you can expect to compete with quite a few people for the job. Which, of course, makes your situation more difficult.
On the top of that, hiring managers will ask you some behavioral questions (scenario-based), and it is not always easy to deal with them, especially when you lack previous working experience… Try to do as much as you can to avoid negative surprises. Prepare for the questions from this article, check also other online resources, and learn as much as you can about IKEA and the position you try to get with them. I hope you will manage to succeed, and wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Retail sales associate interview questions – Longer list of questions you may face interviewing for any sales associate job. Learn how to deal with them.
- How to overcome interview nerves – Feeling nervous before the start of your interview? Learn how to get your nerves under control when it matters, and show the hiring managers at IKEA your best self on the big day.