Almost everything is automatized nowadays. Soon a robot will select merchandise from a shelf in a warehouse, and prepare it for shipping. Following a program, never making a mistake, and never needing holidays, it will be the ultimate “employee”. That day hasn’t come yet though…

Warehouses, distribution centers and various production facilities employ pickers (called also order pickers or picker-packers) to take care of these simple jobs, and ensure that the outbound shipments are correct and defect-free, before they leave the place.

It is not difficult to get the job, but of course you cannot remain silent in the interview. Let’s have a look at 12 questions you may face, and how you should answer them.

 

Can you tell us something about yourself?

How you talk matters more than what you say. Because this is an icebreaker interview question, and more than anything else they try to quickly assess your communication skills, and motivation.

Do you articulate clearly? Do you talk to the point? Is it easy to understand you? Can they hear some enthusiasm in your voice, or is it clear from the first moment that you apply for the job only because you have to get any job, because you need to earn money?

Try to talk with some enthusiasm. You can talk about school, any former jobs you had (but do not mention too many of them, to not look like a job-hopper), what you enjoy doing in your free time, and so on.

The key is to talk clearly, keep an eye contact with the interviewers, and do not look like someone who’s forced to be in the room.

 

Why do you want to work as a picker?

I probably won’t surprise you saying that not a single kid in the world (or at least certainly not in the US) dreams of working as a picker in a warehouse once he or she grows up. And interviewers are not naive either.

Still, you should find something positive about the job, or at least clearly explain what role in plays in your life, at this stage of your professional career. Maybe you are just starting out after school, and cannot hope to find something better. But you like logistics and hope to work in the field for many years to come. Job of  a picker is a decent start in this case.

Or you’ve been unemployed for a longer time, and basically will take a job in any place where they give you a chance to prove that you can still handle the workload, and take care of your duties.

You can also say that you read the job description carefully, and think that you will (at least somehow) enjoy the work pickers usually do, that it is a type of work you feel comfortable doing, and that’s the reason why you decided to apply with them, and not in some other place.

In any case, they should get an impression that this isn’t your last choice, and that you see some good things about the job.

How do you imagine a typical day at work at this warehouse/distribution center?

It is important to show realistic expectations. And to ensure them that you expect to have your hands full. Most likely you will move to and fro between warehouse premises and expedition, receiving orders (typically electronically), and following the orders picking the right items from the shelves, and preparing them for expedition.

You may or not respond for packing, and you may or not work with a forklift–check the job description to be sure. It is also important to mention some secondary duties, such as keeping your workplace clean and well-organized.

Again, try to show some enthusiasm when talking about your duties. You should not sound like you hate the job already, before you even started doing it.

 

What motivates you the most in this type of a repetitive work?

Most likely money is the answer, a decent salary you will get for your work in the warehouse. As you can imagine though, you should refer to other reasons also.

At the end of the day money is just a piece of paper (a special kind of), or some zeros and ones in a complicated banking system, if you want. It’s better talking about things you want to do with the money. Perhaps you have a family you try to provide for, or want to get a mortgage, or buy something specific, or simply have a decent lifestyle–something you can hardly do without money.

But you can refer also to other things. For example that you like to be a part of as team, and a camaraderie and healthy competition with your peers in a warehouse motivates you to try to prepare the orders quickly…

 

This job is physically demanding. Do you think you can handle it?

Simple yes won’t do the trick in this case. You should elaborate on your answer. Perhaps you had a similar job in the past. Carrying heavy loads from morning to afternoon, you gained strength and fitness, and see no reason why you’d struggle in your new role.

Or you enjoy ding sports in your free time–running, playing soccer, lifting wights, whatever. It’s a sort of a lifestyle for you, you feel perfectly fit, and have no doubts you’ll handle the physical demands of your new role in the warehouse.

It’s important to show confidence in your abilities. Unless you believe that you will handle your job, they will find it hard to believe it as well…

 

How do you feel about doing a night shift, or about working on weekends?

Many warehouses and distribution centers operate 24/7. If they ask about night shifts in an interview, it is almost certain that you will have to do some–maybe twice a week, or one week on and one week off. The same is true about the weekends.

Ensure the hiring managers that you read the job description carefully. You did your home work, and know what sort of shifts they do in the company. And since you do not find it hard to stay awake during the night, and know that you’ll get an extra pay for each hour on a night shift (or on Saturday), you do not have a problem with the shift patterns.

The question presents also an opportunity to show right attitude to your colleagues. Of course nobody likes to work on Saturday, or on Sunday. But you understand that once you are in work, your colleagues can enjoy the time with their families or friends. The next weekend they will pay you back the favor…

 

Other questions you may face in your picker-packer job interview

  • Where do you see yourself in five years from now? (How long would you like to have this job?)
  • Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your superior, knowing that they were wrong. What did you do in that situation?
  • What do you plan to do to minimize the number of mistakes while picking the goods from the shelves in the warehouse?
  • Do you have any experience working with a forklift? Did you have any accidents?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What do you enjoy to do in your free time?

 

Conclusion, next steps

Interview for a job of a picker (picker-packer) belongs to easy job interviews. Typically paying just above the minimum wage, this job does not attract crowds of applicants, and many places struggle with hiring new pickers.

Hence they won’t have extremely high expectations on you. As long as you show some enthusiasm for the job, and do not answer their questions with silence, they will give you a chance to try the job, at least in the probation period.

Try to learn something about their place–the shift patterns, what goods they work with, some corporate values they promote on their website, and other stuff.

It will help you with your answers to some questions, and it is also always less stressful when we feel at least somehow familiar withe the place. I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck!

Matthew

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Matthew Chulaw
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