Publix is unique concept of a supermarket chain. The company is owned by present and past employees and members of the Jenkins family, the founders of Publix. Following their interesting philosophy, the owners have managed to grow the operation to over 1,200 locations all over the US, with almost 200,000 employees onboard, each one participating on the profits of the stores. Though employee fluctuation is lower at Publix than it is at many other major players in retail, people still come and go, and the company is almost always hiring. Do you want to get a job with them?

You can expect a laid-back and friendly interview. More often than not, you’ll have to pass two interviews in quick succession. One with the store manager, and another with one of the other managers. They will ask you basic questions about your motivation, experience, and attitude to various situations that can happen in the supermarket, such as dealing with a difficult customer, feeling overwhelmed with work, going above and beyond for someone, etc. Let’s have a look at the questions, one by one.


Why do you want to work for Publix?

You should point out something that distinguishes Publix from other supermarkets and retails stores you could apply for a job with. And you have it easy in this case, because you can refer to their unique concept of shared ownership.

Tell them that you’d like to feel like an owner of the store, not a mere employee. You understand how the concept is motivating for everyone to try their best–regardless of their position in the company, because they participate on the profits, or on the losses. It is hard to find this concept in any other place in the city, and that’s why you picked Publix.

Of course, you can refer to other reasons as well. Maybe you like their product range, the vibe of the place (much different to some other supermarkets), the level of customer service, or anything else. One way or another, ensure them that Publix is your first choice.


Can you tell us more about the experience from your resume?

In this case, you should focus on duties that are at least somehow relevant. Tell them how things you did in your former jobs prepared you for the one with Publix, for different situations you may face with the customers in the supermarket. Any job in sales, customer service, or retail is a relevant one.

Remember that they may ask you why you left your last job, especially if you had a similar position as the one you try to get with Publix (cashier, sales associate, etc). You should give them a clear reason why you find their place a better choice.

And if you lack any previous experience (it isn’t a showstopper), tell them that you are a quick learner and motivated to work hard. Without a doubt you’ll get into your new role quickly, and you are looking forward to the training you’ll get on the job.

What does an outstanding customer service mean to you?

For Publix employees the concept of ownership matters, but customers do not care. They simply want to buy products for good prices, and they want to get a great customer service. You can describe such a service in a variety of ways.

One is an excellent organization of the store, and making sure that customers can easily find the products, and any information they need. Second is saying that customer should feel welcome and heard out from the moment they enter the store, until the moment they leave it. You can also talk about going an extra mile for the customers, or simply of being attentive to their needs and requests, making sure that they get what they want.

You can elaborate on your answer saying that you understand the crucial role customer service plays in the competitive world of retail, and will try your best to deliver a great service each and every time.


Imagine that a client complained about a price discrepancy. How would you react?

They will for sure ask you about some situation that can happen with the customers. It can be dealing with an angry customer, facing a complaint, having to attend multiple customers at once, or any other situation. In all these instances, they care mostly about your attitude.

Ensure them that you would take a feedback of the customer seriously. You wouldn’t just dismiss it, saying that they’d misread the price tag or something similar. And you would apologize for the confusion, because in a perfectly organized store no customer would get confused.

What’s more, you would not start any argument with the customers. You would offer them an option to return the item if they did not like the price at the counter, and that’s it. Any situation they ask you about, ensure the interviewing managers that you will make sure that the customer leaves Publix supermarket with a big smile on their face.


What is your availability?

Many employees have a part time job with Publix. If you also apply for one, they will for sure ask about your availability. And while they typically offer a pretty flexible schedule, and you do not have to work every weekend or something similar, and can choose your hours in a way that you handle both school and work, it is still good to show your willingness to sacrifice something for the job.

Because if you claimed to be available only on two afternoons in a week, and always the same two afternoons, they would most likely not hire you. Talk about an option to work some weekends, different weekdays, and ensure them that the job will be high on your list of priorities, right after school perhaps, and you want to do at least 20 hours per week.


Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond for someone.

You do not have to talk about something groundbreaking at this point. And you do not have to refer to school only. Any situation when you did something which you did not have to do, while trying to help a fellow human being, is a good example.

Check one of our 7 sample answers to the question:

I recall such a situation from my last job in a retail store, selling sports equipment and clothes. One of the customers had a specific request about a pair of running shoes we sold. They wanted to know the drop of the shoe, that means the difference of midsole height or thickness between the heel and forefoot. This wasn’t advertised on the box. I politely asked them to wait and went online. Checking the webpage of the distributor and also the manufacturer, I didn’t find any information about the drop. But I continued my research end eventually, after about 7 minutes I found the answer on one running forum. The drop was 4mm, I told the customer, and they bought the shoes. They seemed to be very happy with my assistance.


Do you enjoy interacting with people?

You should definitely say you do enjoy it. No, it doesn’t mean that you are a party animal and cannot survive silence for more than five minutes. Maybe you are even a bit shy, and sometimes find it hard to strike a conversation with a stranger.

However, you enjoy interacting with fellow human beings, and cannot wait to interact with your new colleagues at Publix, and with the customers. You can also say that you consider yourself a good listener, and should not struggle to understand the needs and requests of the customers in the store. Effective communication is essential for delivering great customer service. Ensure the hiring managers that you are ready to deliver such a service.


Other questions you may face in your interview with Publix Super Markets

  • Tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership at work.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.
  • Job in a super market is quite repetitive. What will motivate you to try hard every day?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  • After everything we’ve said in the interview, do you have any questions?


Final thoughts, next steps

Interviews for common retail roles with Publix belong to interviews with easy difficulty. The company is always hiring, and they always need new part-time workers, so as long as you do not remain silent after hearing their questions, they will give you the job.

Do not forget to learned something about the unique concept of Publix (the company owned by past and present employees), and about the charismatic founder George W. Jenkins. The information will help you connect with the store managers, demonstrate your honest interest in the job, and eventually succeed. I hope you will get this job, and wish you best of luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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