We cannot escape globalization in the 21st century. Individuals, companies, and countries are as interdependent as ever. Goods, services, and people travel across the globe in unimaginable quantities every day, in all directions, reaching thousands of warehouses and storage rooms. Working as receiving clerk, you will be in charge of receiving shipments, sorting and classifying items, and sometimes also storing them in an appropriate place in the warehouse. Let’s have a look at what will happen in an interview, and how you can get this job.

Before anything else, you should realize that your new employer will provide you an excellent training, before you start doing the work. It means that they do not expect from you to know some technical information about the types of shipments you will deal with in the job, and in general you won’t face any difficult technical questions in this interview. They will inquire only about your goals, motivation, expectations, and about your attitude to various situations that can happen in the warehouse. Let’s have a look at the questions.


Why do you want to work as a receiving clerk?

Receiving clerk is neither a fancy job title, nor one of the best paid jobs in the field. It makes not sense saying that you’ve always dreamed of having this job, or something similar. Try to be realistic.

You can say that you have great attention to detail, enjoy working with goods, and that considering the job description you find the job a good match to your strengths, expectations, previous working experience (or lack of it), and your level of education.

Alternatively you can refer to a personal recommendation–you know one of the other clerks, and they recommended you the job, or you can basically say that in the economic crisis we experience right now you’ll be glad for getting any job, and since it it is easier to get a job of a clerk than a job of a manager, you decided to apply for this one.


Can you tell us more about your previous working experience? Have you worked in a warehouse before?

If you had any job in a warehouse before–for example with a forklift, you should clearly explain the types of goods you’ve worked with, equipment you used, shift patterns, etc. Try to stay positive when talking about your former roles, hiring managers should not get an impression that you hate this type of work, and simply stay in the field because you cannot get anything better at the moment.

And if you have no experience with similar work, you can either talk about other roles you have had–if they at least slightly relevant, or you can simply say that you have confidence in your learning abilities and their employee training program, and have no doubts that you will handle the job, after the initial training period, and meet your quota.

* May also interest you: Mail Clerk interview questions.


How do you imagine a typical day in work here?

Think about the types of goods they work with, as well as the size of the warehouse, and scope of the operation. Will you have to lift heavy stuff? Will you operate a forklift? How many clerks will be on the same shift with you? You should think about this questions, and also read the job description carefully before your interview. Then you should show realistic expectations in terms of the workload.

And if you are not sure, or things look rather blur, you can always say that you simply imagine receiving shipments and sorting them, having your hands full from the start of the shift to the end. The key is to show them that you expect to work hard, and do not plan to hang around the workhouse, playing with your smartphone, or doing some other dubious activity.

Job of a receiving clerk is repetitive. What would motivate you to work hark?

You have a few options for a good answer here. First one is brutal honesty. You can say that you expect to be bored in the job, or tired from the routine. However, jobs are hard to get nowadays and easy to lose. If you get a chance, you will try your best every day to meet the quota, simply because you have bills to pay (and maybe kids to feed), and cannot afford losing the job.

Another alternative is saying that you actually prefer repetitive jobs. You aren’t the most creative guy in the town, and do not enjoy straining your mind too much at work. It is simply better for you to have the same duties day after day, knowing exactly what you should do at work, and leave at 3pm (or 10 pm, or 6am, depending on your shift patterns) with a clear head, ready to enjoy your life outside of work.

Last good option is saying that judging by your previous experience from the warehouses, you do not find the work repetitive. Sure enough anything can happen on any day. And you have colleagues around, maybe some funny characters, and typically before you realize it the shift ends, and you go home… If you need more inspiration, check out 7 great answers to the question about repetitive jobs.


You will work with several other clerks on the shift. How do you feel about sharing responsibility for the workload?

Ensure them that you are a team player. You see it as a plus and not a minus that you’ll share the workplace with other clerks and workers. Sure enough, the work should be equally distributed, but if one of the clerks does not feel well, or experiences a low day, you are ready to push extra hard to meet the quota set for the entire team.

You can even narrate an experience from the past–if you had a similar job before, explaining how you helped your colleagues, or how they helped you, simply a positive illustration of teamwork in the warehouse. On the top of that, you can say that you will try your best to have good relationship with your colleagues–being attentive to their needs, having a casual conversation, or even taking part in team building events.


How do you feel about working on weekends? What about night shifts?

In my experience, night shifts are real pain, but you cannot avoid them in some warehouses, and they will pay you more money for working in the night. This is one thing you can refer to in your answer: While you are aware it won’t be easy to work at night, or on weekends, you also understand you’ll earn more for these shifts. Hence you feel okay about taking them, as long as they are equally distributed between the team members.

Second option is referring to the past. Say them that you did night shifts before, and didn’t feel tired at work, didn’t struggle with concentration. Maybe you have to drink a coffee at midnight, or you have some other rituals that help you stay focused and get the job done despite facing tiredness. But you already know your body, and as long as you stick to these rituals you see no reason why you’d struggle with night shifts.


Other questions you may face in your receiving clerk job interview

  • Tell us about a conflict you had with a colleague in your former job.
  • How long have you been looking for a job?
  • Imagine that one of your colleagues does not come to a shift. You are understaffed and the supervisor says you have still have to handle the workload. How will you react?
  • Describe a situation when you did not agree with the opinion (or decision) of your superior or supervisor, and knew that they were wrong. How did you handle that?
  • Tell us about a time when you used logic to solve a problem.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • How long do you want to have this job?


Final thoughts, next steps

Interview for a job of a receiving clerk belongs to interviews with easy difficulty. Apart from a couple of scenario-based question, they won’t typically ask you any difficult questions, and you can prepare for the meeting in advance.

What is more, this isn’t a popular job title, and more often than not you won’t compete with many people for the job. In some extreme cases (such a bad salary offer) you may actually be the only candidate in the interviews. Needless to say, it is much easier to succeed in such a case.

Try to learn something about your future employer–what they do in the warehouse, what types of goods they deal with, how many people work in the place. Show some positive emotions, realistic expectations, and motivation to work hard. If you manage to do it, more often than not you’ll get the job. I wish you good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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