Updated August 22nd, 2018
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 32
How would your references describe you?
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The interviewer wants to hear that your references will describe you in a positive manner. Think about the positive things your references have said about you in the past. Instead of listing these things, tell the interviewer what each person has told you. For example, you might say, "John has told me that I am a hard worker, and he has told me that he really likes how I am always happy to be at work!" These concrete examples will be sure to impress the interviewer!
"John has told me that I am a hard worker, and he has told me that he really likes how I am always happy to be at work!"
Be candid and honest with the interviewer sharing if you would like to be in a baking position. Be sure to ask the interviewer what hours bakers work to ensure the hours will work with your schedule if you are interested. Finally, telling the interviewer that you are not interested in a baking position but would be willing to learn to help out when there was a need for an extra set of hands can be a great approach. It tells the interviewer that you are a team player willing to help out when necessary to meet the team's needs.
We all have things we can improve on, so do not be afraid to share them. The interviewer will likely take note of these things and may even provide you with additional training or mentoring in these areas if possible to help you excel. The interviewer wants to hear that your weaknesses are not critical for the job you are applying to. Think of a couple of things you could improve upon that are not necessary for the job, and openly share them with the interviewer. You might even include some fun things that are not job-related. For example, you might state, "Painting is definitely a weakness for me! If you need someone to paint a poster, I'm probably not your guy!" The interviewer will think it's clever, and painting is not essential for a job at Panera.
"Painting is definitely a weakness for me! If you need someone to paint a poster, I'm probably not your guy!"
Addressing customer complaints is an essential part of customer service, and the interviewer wants to hear that you are okay talking through a customer's complaint. Start off by telling the interviewer that you do not mind addressing customer complaints, and you recognize that most customers have good intentions when coming forth with a complaint. Tell the interviewer that you take time to listen to everything the customer has to say first to ensure you truly understand what they are upset about. Next, share that you make eye contact with the customer and sincerely apologize to them. Finally, be sure to mention that you offer to correct any mistakes that were made or take the appropriate action to rectify the situation such as making a new beverage for a customer who tried something new today and didn't care for it.
Why do you think customers enjoy coming to Panera Bread?
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Why do you love going to Panera Bread? Does the environment pull you in? Does the menu excite you? Do you enjoy the customer service you receive at Panera? Whatever it is, this makes a great answer to your question! Simply tell the interviewer why you enjoy going to Panera Bread, and share that it is likely why other customers enjoy going as well!
6. Would you like to be a manager at Panera in the future? If you aspire to be a manager at Panera, that's great! If not, that is okay too. Candidly share with the interviewer what you aspire to do at Panera. If you hope to be a manager someday, tell the interviewer that you look forward to becoming a manager someday, and you understand it may take several years to achieve these level within the company. Here is an answer example: 7. How often do you give an A plus effort while working? The interviewer wants to hear that you always put your best foot forward at work. Share with the interviewer that you respect your employer and understand that they trust you to be working hard while at work. Tell the interviewer that you want to do a great job every time you are at work to show your employer respect and help create a positive image for the company. Here is an answer example: 8. Tell me about your experience working in the food industry? The interviewer wants to learn more about your background and experience.
If you don't have any experience, it's okay! Tell the interviewer that you do not have any experience in the industry, and you look forward to making the transition and learning everything there is to know!
If you have experience, start off by giving the interviewer a high-level overview of your experience by sharing where you have worked, your job title, and how long you were employed there. Add a sentence or two about what your job duties were in each role as well. Be sure to mention that you really enjoy this industry, and you look forward to continuing to work in food industry roles. Here is an answer example: 9. Why would you like a position at Panera Bread? The interviewer wants to hear that you are excited about working at Panera Bread. Panera is about being connected and being a part of a family. Tell the interviewer why you look forward to being a part of Panera's family as an employee. Recognize that you would be helping create an environment where friends, family, and business colleagues come to spend time together. Be mindful that you would be putting together nutritious meals for people. And, acknowledge that you would be the setting for many women's birthday get togethers, men's group outings, and holiday gift exchanges. Be excited to share that you would get to be a part of the Panera family while creating a great environment for customers. Here is an answer example: 10. Have you ever helped someone else achieve their goal or helped to better themselves, if so, how? Think about the times you have helped a friend achieve their goal. You may have run a few miles with them each day in preparation for a 10k. You might have stayed up late at night reviewing flashcards for a big test the next day. Or, maybe you watched a family's children for a couple of days to allow the parents to work on their goal of opening a new business. These types of scenarios work great to answer this question. Simply tell the interviewer a high-level overview of your scenario, and share how thankful the individual was for your contribution. Here is an answer example: 11. Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for customer service? Talking about a time when you calmed an upset customer can be a great example for this question. Be ready to talk about the time you went above and beyond with handling a customer complaint. Explain how you personally listened to every word the customer had to say. Next, describe how you apologized to the customer with a calm voice and sincere heart. Finally, be sure to tell the interviewer what solution you offered the customer. Perhaps you did not charge them for a meal if it was in a restaurant. Maybe you offered a new dish for them to try. Be sure to close with how happy the customer was when they left! Here is an answer example: 12. Would you say you are a sociable person? Absolutely! The interviewer wants to hear that you are comfortable conversing with other people. As a customer service person, you are definitely a sociable person. Explain to the interviewer that you enjoy getting to know your co-workers, work hard to build relationships with your regular customers through simple interactions, and look forward coming to work each day in customer service. You might work best in a large group setting, or one-on-one interactions might be your thing. Either way, you are a sociable person. Here is an answer example: 13. What do you know about our company history at Panera? As with any job interview, we recommend that you visit the company's website before arriving to gain a little more information. You might tell the interviewer that Panera started as Saint Louis Bread Company. Saint Louis Bread Company was acquired by Au Bon Pain Co, Inc in the early 1990's and changed the name to Panera Bread in the mid-1990's. In the later 1990's the company realized that Panera Bread could possibly become one of the leading brands in the country. In 2007, Panera purchased a large part of Paradise Bakery and Cafe. Today, there are over 1,900 locations in 46 states, DC, and Ontario Canada operating under the Panera Bread/St Louis Bread Co/Paradise Bakery & Cafe names. Here is an answer example: 14. How often are you late for your responsibilities, such as school or work? Never. The interviewer needs to know that they can count on you to be at work by your assigned time every day. Start off by telling the interviewer that you are a punctual person, and you are always a couple of minutes early when arriving at work. Be sure to mention that you plan ahead for traffic, and if you live somewhere with snow, be sure to mention that you watch the weather ensuring you leave enough time to clean off your car and drive a little more cautiously when necessary. If you have children, be sure to mention that you have backup plans in place for childcare should something fall through with your typical plans. Here is an answer example: 15. Where else are you applying? If you are actively interviewing with other companies, be sure to tell the interviewer. It will give them a little push to make a quicker decision. If you are actively interviewing, be sure to mention that you are most interested in the role at Panera!
If you are not actively interviewing with other companies, you can simply tell the interviewer, "No, I am not." Here is an answer example: "No, I am not."16. How can I trust you not to steal? This one should be easy! Share with the interviewer that you have never stolen before and have a proven work record with a great reputation. Be sure to mention that you respect others and that you wouldn't steal from them. Here is an answer example: 17. Tell me about a time when you did not have enough time to complete all assigned tasks. How did you prioritize? Start off by telling the interviewer that you are typically an organized person and achieve everything on time. Share how you usually organize your work. You might share that you keep a to-do list of all the objectives that you must complete, keep your electronic calendar up-to-date, and that you spend 5-10 minutes at the beginning of your day reviewing your calendar for the day as well as prioritizing your to-do list for that day. Next, share about a time when you failed to get an assigned task done on time due to something outside of your control. Perhaps you were sick, an emergency arose, or someone else called in sick for the day changing your priorities. Share how you prioritized your time with the goal of achieving the deadline, and share why you were not able to achieve it on time. Finally, be sure to wrap it up by re-iterating that you are usually a deadline driven person, and you almost always complete everything on time. Here is an answer example: 18. Do you have any friends or relatives that work at Panera Bread? The interviewer simply wants to know of any relationships they should be aware of that might affect the workplace. If you have any close friends or relatives working at Panera Bread, be sure to tell the interviewer, and include which store they work at as well as how you know the person or their relationship to you. Here is an answer example: 19. What is your favorite item at Panera Bread? This one should be easy! Does the thought of a French Toast Bagel make you drool? Does a Frozen Mocha make your mouth water? Or, does the thought of a Fuji Apple Chicken Salad get you excited? Be prepared to excitedly share what you most look forward to at Panera Bread! Here is an answer example: 20. Tell me about a time when you had to be a leader. How was the outcome? The interviewer wants to hear about a positive experience you have had with leadership. Think about a time when you led a sports team, led a college project, managed a store, or coached a little league team. These are all great examples! Start off by giving the interviewer a high-level overview of what you were leading, and share that you enjoyed the experience. Discuss the positive outcome that the group had, and explain that you would gladly lead again! Here is an answer example: 21. What would you do if a coworker asked you to help them steal? The interviewer wants to hear that you are an honest and ethical person. Tell the interviewer that you would not steal if a coworker asked you to, and share that you would instead tell your manager about the situation because it is the right thing to do. Here is an answer example: 22. Why should we not hire you? The interviewer is hoping to hear that there is no reason to not hire you! Simply tell the interviewer that you would be a great employee, and confidently share that there is no reason to not hire you! You might wrap it up by sharing that you are customer focused, have a proven employment record, and you really enjoy Panera Bread! Here is an answer example: 23. Give me an example of how you delivered excellent customer service at your last position. The interviewer wants to know that your definition of excellent customer service exceeds minimal expectations. You could talk about a time when you calmed an upset customer or went above the expectations of your role to make a customer want to return.
Perhaps you had a customer dispute and were able to smooth over the issue with your great instinct and friendly disposition. Be sure to close with how happy the customer was when they left. Include any feedback that you received from your supervisor or co-workers afterward. Here is an answer example: "In my last role, as a server, I went above the customer service expectations by introducing myself to each table when I sat them. Having that small personal touch made all the difference. Once the customers knew my name, and I knew theirs, they felt more confident in my capabilities. Over time, I would have customers coming in and requesting a table in my section. It felt nice to make that connection, and the increase in tips was a nice bonus too! After a few weeks, the restaurant manager made this a general practice across all serving staff." Here is an answer example: "Here are some ways that you can deliver exceptional customer service:
- Exercise endless patience with challenging customers.
- Use positive verbiage at all times. For instance, instead of saying "I don't know," say "I am happy to find out for you."
- Actively listen to your customers' needs and be able to repeat them back.
- Have the ability to explain product pricing, so the customer knows what to expect on their bill or invoice.
- Display exceptional product knowledge.
- Ask the customer if you have met their expectations before they leave.
- Smile and maintain positive body language.
- Support your coworkers and encourage a positive workplace culture."24. When was the last time you contributed to a team effort and what was your role? The interviewer wants to hear that you enjoy being a part of a team and that you contribute to the success of the team. Start off by sharing the last time you contributed to a team effort. Perhaps it was a large project at work. Maybe it was on a basketball team. Or, you might have led a Girl Scout troop. All of these make great examples! Discuss how you personally made efforts to contribute to the team, and be sure to mention how successful the team was! Here is an answer example: 25. Name your three best qualities? Think about the things that people have repeatedly commended you for. What are the common qualities that you have received praise for at work, in school, or within your family? These things make great examples! Simply share your three qualities, and tell the interviewer that other people have told you they really like these qualities in you. Some examples might include your joyful attitude, your kindhearted spirit, your ability to help others, your knack for striking up a conversation, or your patience. Here is an answer example: 26. How would you deal with an angry customer while you were busy completing tasks? The interviewer wants to hear that customers are your priority. Tell the interviewer that you would graciously stop what you were doing and start by genuinely listening to the customer. Next, share that you would apologize to the customer and take whatever corrective action was necessary. Be sure to mention that most challenging customers really do not take much time, and they really just want to know that their opinion is being heard. Finally, be sure to mention that once you have the customer on their way you would go back to working on your task. Here is an answer example: 27. Where do you see yourself in five years? The interviewer hopes to hear that you will stay with the company long-term.
If you are a student, tell the interviewer that you plan to stay at Panera Bread through graduation, and then share what career or further education you hope to be pursuing at that five-year mark. If Panera offers careers in your field, such as management, be sure to mention that you would be open to considering a career in your field at Panera if one is available upon graduating.
If you are not a student, no problem! Simply share that you see yourself working at Panera! You may even mention that you hope to have received a promotion by the five year mark. Here is an answer example: 28. How do you expect to make a difference at Panera Bread? The interviewer wants to hear that you are passionate about a role in the Panera Bread family and have thought about how you can make a positive impact while working there. Think about what kind of impact you could make. Possible things that might come to mind are:
- Creating a positive environment for customers by smiling, asking them how their day is going, and providing them with great service
- Building business relationships with your co-workers, so everyone looks forward to coming to work each day
- By creating a positive go-to place where people can hang out on their lunch break and get away from hectic business offices
Whatever comes to mind that you are passionate about, share it with the interviewer! Here is an answer example: 29. Describe a time when you disliked company rules in your last job? The interviewer wants to hear that you are not a rule breaker, and you support the rules the company has put into place. Start off by telling the interviewer that you follow all of the company rules and are supportive of the leadership decisions the company makes regarding rules. After all, there had to be some logic to their professional decision! Next, think of an outside the box rule your company had that you simply would have made a different decision about. A sound example might be that company rule that says no insulated lunch boxes/totes can be put into the fridge because it takes up too much space. You might tell the interviewer, "If I could change one decision the leadership team made regarding a rule, I would not have implemented the rule that says employees cannot put a lunch tote/lunch box in the fridge for space reasons because it makes it so much harder to find your own food in the fridge at lunch time resulting in a line at the refrigerator and less time to spend outside enjoying the sunshine." This shows the interviewer that you respect decisions even when you recognize you would make different decisions sometimes. Here is an answer example: "If I could change one decision the leadership team made regarding a rule, I would not have implemented the rule that says employees cannot put a lunch tote/lunch box in the fridge for space reasons because it makes it so much harder to find your own food in the fridge at lunch time resulting in a line at the refrigerator and less time to spend outside enjoying the sunshine."30. Do you prefer working in a team environment or alone? Panera is very much a team environment. Start off by telling the interviewer that you prefer the team environment, and you are great at working alone too! If you had to choose one over the other, you would pick a team environment. Here is an answer example: 31. What is your best personal trait? Think about the one thing that people repeatedly commend you for; this is your answer to this question! Start off by sharing the one trait, and tell the interviewer that people often tell you this is your strength. For example, you might say, "My best trait is my ability to relate to people. My co-workers often mention that they really admire this trait. I just really enjoy helping people." Here is an answer example: "My best trait is my ability to relate to people. My co-workers often mention that they really admire this trait. I just really enjoy helping people."32. Why do you feel you will be better suited for this job than the other applicants? Talking about ourselves in this way can be challenging. We recommend reaching out to a few colleagues, family members, and friends. Ask them for their opinion. You'll probably be surprised at the consistency in their responses! Their answers will give you insight into how to answer this question. Tell the interviewer what sets you apart, and explain how your co-workers, family members, and friends have encouraged you with your gift in this area. Here is an answer example:
Author of Panera Bread Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 07/01/2018 Last modified on: 08/22/2018
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