Updated on August 21st, 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
Describe an ongoing problem at your current or former employer that you were able to overcome.
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How to Answer
Every place of employment will have its challenges. Talk to the interviewer about a specific issue that you were able to overcome in your previous role. Be sure to remain positive. Avoid complaining or saying negative things about your last employer or co-workers.
"In my most recent position we had an ongoing concern with our most popular stock depleting before the new shipment would come in. Customers would become annoyed and upset, which then became an issue for me as the Customer Service Manager. I decided to document the cycle and then approach the Inventory Manager about my concern. We were able to work on a solution for ordering from that particular supplier. In the end, this solved the majority of supply issues."
"In my most recent positions, communication was our biggest problem. I implemented, with the support of management, a weekly email update that kept our departments talking to each other instead of pointing fingers when an issue would arise."
You don't have to be a manager or a team leader to motivate others. Offering a listening ear or providing words of encouragement can make a world of difference to your coworkers. Sometimes, just being a positive influence and showing up consistently can also make a difference.
If you have worked in a leadership role, think of ways you helped set clear goals or helped individuals cultivate a new skill. Reflect on your experience and share some ideas that you have helped encourage others to keep up the good work!
"I motivate my fellow team members by coming to work with an exceptional attitude every day. I won't allow anyone's bad mood to let me down. That influence alone has helped many of my coworkers get through their day on a more positive note."
"I motivate others by complimenting their work, asking them their opinion, and making them feel like a valued part of the team."
Do you prefer to work in a team based position or individually?
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In which situation are you the happiest and most productive? Talk to the interviewer about your preference when it comes to teamwork or working individually. Be sure to avoid pigeonholing yourself into one particular scenario (IE: I only like to work by myself).
"I have found, in the past, that I work best in an individually driven environment; however, I can certainly be productive in a team-based setting as well."
"I am a fan of team-based positions where everyone has something unique to offer. It creates a great diversity and generates ideas that may not have occurred in an individual based work environment."
This can be a tricky question to answer if you've never had a job before! Think about your education and any volunteer experience you have received or training. What are some aspects of those experience that you enjoyed? For many people, working in an environment that is positive helps them to feel more motivated and often more productive. Your coworkers can have a huge influence on your experience as well. If you work with positive and encouraging people, you will feel appreciated and cared for at work. Review the job description so that you can also share some of what you're looking forward to learning. The most exciting part of a new job is that you have so much room to grow and learn. This is the beginning of your career so get excited!
"I am new to my career so I am looking for a job that will give me great training and a positive work environment."
"I'm looking for a company with which I can grow, and a team that will help me do it. I want to make the right decision with my first job out of school that will put me on the right career path."
6. Do you have reliable transportation? Even if you're not expected to drive for the job, you will need to have some form of reliable transportation. If you take the bus or ride a bike that works too! Simply share that you have the means to get you to work consistently on time. Here is an answer example: "I have reliable transportation. My vehicle is well maintained, and I am comfortable with the amount of travel required to get to here every day." Here is an answer example: "I take public transit; however, I find it to be very reliable. I was late to work only once last year, and that was due to a snowstorm which stalled all of our employee's commute - including those with personal vehicles. Rest assured, I am reliable and will always come to work on time."7. What questions do you have for me, about Trader Joes? It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of items you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their company site!
Here are some sample questions:
- When would you like to have this position filled?
- How long has this role been vacant?
- Is this a replacement search or a newly created role?
- What is your favorite part about working here?
- What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months?
- Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you?
- What do you see as the most significant change in the grocery industry over the past three years?
- Is there any reason why you would not hire me?
- When do I get my Hawaiian shirt! Here is an answer example: Here is an answer example: "Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? Also, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"8. How do you deal with stressful situations? Ah, the challenge of stress management! Your ability to manage stress will directly influence your ability to do your job successfully, assisting others on the team and providing support for clients or customers. Before answering this question, think of some ways you have learned to deal with stress at work. Sometimes you can't take a break when you need it, so what will you do?
F"I've learned some helpful breathing techniques that I can do while I'm at work. Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a patient situation, I can slow down my breath and remain calm. Patient care will always be my top priority, and that's why I've learned to manage my stress effectively." Here is an answer example: "I've learned some helpful breathing techniques that I can do while I'm at work. Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a patient situation, I can slow down my breath and remain calm. Patient care will always be my top priority, and that's why I've learned to manage my stress effectively." Here is an answer example: "Stress is part of any demanding job, and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."9. When have you worked amongst a diverse group of people? Are you accustomed to working with a very large or diverse team of individuals? Assure the interviewer that you can handle an environment that offers diversity. Here is an answer example: "I have worked with diverse groups of people most of my career, including my time in University. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers a great learning opportunity." Here is an answer example: "I can work cordially with all types of individuals, and I appreciate and encourage diversity in the workplace. Most of the positions I have been in have offered a great deal of diversity."10. What work situations excite and motivate you? It is essential, for your success, that the hiring manager knows how to keep you motivated and excited to come to work every day. Share with the interviewer what they could do to ensure that you are happy and productive. Here is an answer example: "I am most motivated, on the job, when tasks are organized, and the vibe is positive. I value strong teamwork and good leadership." Here is an answer example: "It does not take a lot to keep me motivated. If I work in a positive environment with a forward-thinking team, I am a very happy employee. If you see me going above and beyond, a quick thanks or small recognition of my hard work is good enough for me."11. Tell me about an error or mistake you made because of a breakdown in communication from you or one of your team members. On occasion, mistakes will happen, and communication will be broken. Talk to the interviewer about a time that this occurred in the workplace. How did you resolve the situation? Here is an answer example: "I recall one instance where I misread an email from one of my subordinates. The punctuation was incorrect, and I read it in in a dire tone rather than in a positive one, as it was intended. After a tense conversation, the employee clarified her intention, and it seems I was mistaken. She and I agreed to exercise verbal communication on a regular basis to avoid a similar situation from happening again." Here is an answer example: "We recently had a missing link in communications to one of our vendors, who we signed on to provide a large service. They were not aware of a change in the agreement which cost the company wasted time, resources and money. We were able to identify the breakdown in communication and change the process to ensure it does not happen again."12. What is the worst thing a previous manager could say about you? Think about some mistakes you have made at work. How did you handle them? If a manager were to give you feedback or criticism, what might they say? Use an example that shows you are the type of person who is looking to improve and grow. You may have gotten some harsh criticism in the past, but you know how to be constructive and improve from it. Here is an answer example: "When I started at my last job I had a pretty big learning curve. The software and my daily tasks were all very new to me. I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning because I felt rushed and wanted to learn as quickly as I could. My manager told me to slow down and not worry so much about keeping up with the people who have been there for a while. He was understanding, and it helped to learn that it's okay to take my time so that I can notice the details and avoid mistakes." Here is an answer example: "I have received constructive feedback in regards to my patience level when it comes to my own mistakes. I have been working on allowing myself to make errors and quickly recover from them."13. Describe your working relationship with your previous or current colleagues. When you answer this question be sure to remain positive, even if the experience wasn't. Avoid talking about any previous drama and do not speak poorly of your colleagues.
If you had a good relationship with your previous colleagues: "I get along well with most personalities. My colleagues were great team players, and we would often meet up after work for drinks or team activities."
If you did not have a good relationship with your previous colleagues: "I have had better relationships in the past, but we did the best that we could. Our communication styles were all very different which made it challenging at times." Here is an answer example: "I get along well with most personalities. My colleagues were great team players, and we would often meet up after work for drinks or team activities." Here is an answer example: "All of the colleagues I have worked with have shared a very respectful relationship with me. We have shared goals, and we share knowledge to accomplish those things to the best we can. Each of us has a part in the company's success, and we utilize communication to make it happen."14. We have very busy and productive work days at Trader Joes. How do you handle a larger than average workload? The interviewer wants to be assured that you can handle the workload required of you in this position and that you will not become overwhelmed if/when workloads unexpectedly increase. When workloads increase, stress levels do too. How do you react? Here is an answer example: "When I have a large workload on my plate, I do not stress over the tasks that are in front of me. Rather, I make a simple plan of which tasks are a high priority and which tasks are a lower priority. The higher priority tasks, I complete first. Through this system, I can focus on my tasks individually, rather than stress out by the multitude of tasks ahead of me." Here is an answer example: "Here are some suggestions on how to handle a large workload:
- List your tasks and prioritize them
- Think of which tasks add to the company's bottom line, and start there (Closest to the money!)
- Exhale. Relax for a minute and collect yourself
- Organize your tasks by which ones you can complete independently and which ones you need help with
- Take sufficient breaks, so you do not exhaust yourself
- Communicate your struggles with your leadership or team"15. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss. Even though you may have a great relationship with your employer, there may be times where you don't see eye to eye. Think of a conflict or disagreement you had with your boss where you responded well, either by suggesting a compromise or taking a calm, relaxed stance when you could have responded in a heated tone. Compromise puts you in a great position with your boss, because it shows your desire to work together and highlights your creative problem-solving abilities. Here is an answer example: "I had a boss that regularly forced overtime on employees at the last minute with no opportunity to make childcare arrangements or plan changes. Sometimes he knew about the need for plenty of time to warn everyone but did not. I spoke with him at length about morale, and eventually, he started giving the notice sooner, making everyone's lives easier." Here is an answer example: "I have done my best to always get along with my bosses, but inevitably I've disagreed with some of them in the past. Generally, the disagreements have been surrounding distribution of tasks among the staff. When I see that employees are unfairly treated, it bothers me. I'm not very confrontational, but I did pull my boss aside on a few occasions to let her know that the treatment seemed unfair and it was hurting morale. She was not thrilled at first since it questioned her authority and knowledge of the team, but after explaining how it was impacting the morale and productivity, she understood."16. Do you prefer doing work on a routine day-to-day basis or do you prefer mixing up your routine occasionally? Are you the individual who prefers to know what the routine will be, or do you thrive on the challenge and excitement of unpredictability? Here is an answer example: "I prefer working in a more predictable environment because I can be more effective in my tasks. With that said, I can certainly work in an unpredictable environment from time to time." Here is an answer example: "Currently, I work around a random routine. Part of this is due to the nature of my role, and part of it is due to communication issues between departments. I can work in either type of environment; however, I certainly do prefer an organized workplace."17. This position requires you to lift boxes up to 50 pounds. Are you physically capable of this task? Many jobs require some intermediate to heavy lifting. At Trader Joe's there will be new stock coming in all the time; some light and some heavy. Assure the interviewer that you are physically capable of assisting with the receiving of stock. If you do have limitations, this is the time to disclose them. You do not need to get overly personal with health issues, but you do need to be upfront and honest. Focus on what you CAN do versus what you cannot. Here is an answer example: "I can lift up to 50 pounds and do not have any physical restrictions. I am fit, injury free, and ready to work!" Here is an answer example: "I can bend and lift; however, 50 pounds may be more than I can handle at this time. With that said, I can certainly lift boxes up to 25 pounds."18. Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond. Display to the interviewer that you can do more than the bare minimum. Show that you can react appropriately when you see that your employer has a need that goes beyond your usual day-to-day expectations. Here is an answer example: "Last week I noticed that my manager had not completed the schedule for the following week. Some of the staff were complaining that they didn't have their work schedule yet. Rather than going to my manager with the complaint, I offered to take on some of her workload so that she would have the time to complete the schedule. We worked together for a couple of overtime hours that day and were able to catch her up on everything. It felt good to help but also benefited me by way of organization." Here is an answer example: "I often go above and beyond what is expected of me. Most recently, I agreed to cover for a co-worker who was on short-term medical leave. I worked 10 hour days for two weeks so that our productivity did not suffer."19. Do you have any experience in up-selling? Trader Joes is all about excellent customer service as well as exceptional value and product. If hired, how do you plan to up-sell your customers on new and exciting products? Assure the interviewer that you are a natural salesperson. Be sure to mention the famous Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer! Here is an answer example: " Here is an answer example: "Yes, I do have experience in up-selling. In my current position, as a cashier, I will remind customers of any sale that we have going on. I'll casually say something like, 'Did you know that our cereals are three for the price of two? Would you like me to have another two boxes bagged for you?' It's surprising to me how many people do not take advantage of these great deals, so it feels good to help them save money while pushing the store's promotions at the same time."20. How do you handle dissatisfied customers? You will come across dissatisfied customers from time to time - no matter how hard you try to please. You can't please everyone! Talk to the interviewer about your ability to handle dissatisfied customers. Here is an answer example: "I have had my fair share of dissatisfied customers and am not shy when it comes to dispute resolution. I find that listening to customers is almost always enough when it comes to diffusing a situation. They want to be heard and feel acknowledged." Here is an answer example: "It's never fun to have a dissatisfied customer as I truly care that everyone is happy after my interactions with them. If I have a customer who is unhappy, I will ask them what I can do, or could have done, differently. I will actively listen and then change my actions to create a satisfactory result."21. At Trader Joe's we like to train and promote our employees as often as possible. Where would you want to see your career with Trader Joe's take you? The interviewer would like to know that you are looking forward to a bright future with Trader Joe's. If offered excellent training and the potential of internal promotions, would that excite you? Discuss with the interviewer your thoughts on the potential career path with Trader Joe's. Here is an answer example: "I like that you promote from within and also that you train whenever possible. I would like to see my career take me to a store manager or human resources type of role with Trader Joe's. That possibility is fascinating to me!" Here is an answer example: "I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within your organization. My career interests align very nicely with your company's goals which helps me to see a great long-term fit here."22. Do you have experience in handling monetary transactions? Assure the interviewer that you are capable of handling cash and credit card transactions. Talk about your math skills, your reputation for being an honest employee, and also your excellent customer service skills. Here is an answer example: "I have a couple of years' experience working as a cashier at a local grocery store. I am very good at making customers feel at ease while I ring them through. I have experience with a variety of Point of Sale systems as well as Moneris. My math skills are sharp, so you can be assured that I am always returning the correct amount of change!" Here is an answer example: "I have minimal experience in handling physical cash although I have been responsible for managing an eCommerce website. I understand the basics of cash in/cash out. I am strong in mathematics and can quickly calculate correct change, for instance."23. Are you looking for a long term employment opportunity? Trader Joe's believes in investing in their employees, and they want to know that you will return the favor by offering a longer-term commitment. Be sure to let the interviewer know that you are not just using this opportunity as a temporary stepping-stone.
If you are looking for long term employment: "You can see on my resume that I have strong tenure in my previous positions. I would like to find a long-term fit where I can grow into a management or leadership type of role." Here is an answer example: "You can see on my resume that I have strong tenure in my previous positions. I would like to find a long-term fit where I can grow into a management or leadership type of role." Here is an answer example: "If you are looking for a shorter term solution: "I am looking for a temporary position for the summer. My goal is to earn additional money for University this Fall. I am willing to work overtime, weekends, and holidays to make my financial goals happen."24. At Trader Joe's we take our theft prevention programs very seriously. Have you ever caught a coworker stealing? What did you do? Trader Joe's has almost 500 locations, and nearly 40,000 employees. Of course, employee theft would be a concern when your company is so large. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have faced dishonesty in the workplace. Show that you are capable of handling a situation like this with integrity and professionalism. Here is an answer example: "I completely empathize with companies that struggle with theft prevention. My parents are small business owners, and I understand the efforts that go into theft prevention programs. If I were to catch a co-worker stealing, I would report the situation immediately. There should be zero tolerance for theft and dishonesty in the workplace." Here is an answer example: "Fortunately, I have never been a situation where I caught a coworker stealing. If I caught an employee stealing, I would report the incident immediately. As a previous manager, I understand the value of employee honesty."25. If you could choose to work in any department at Trader Joe's, which would you choose? There are likely many different departments and areas that you could grow into with Trader Joe's. If you could choose any particular department to work in, which would you choose? Talk candidly to the interviewer about your desires for growth and opportunity within their organization. Here is an answer example: "I have always leaned more towards positions within the fresh produce department. I am a great cook and am always interested in different fresh produce, trying dishes from different cultures, and encouraging my customers to do the same." Here is an answer example: "In my grocery store experience, I have worked primarily with receiving stock and inventory, and have spent some time in the produce department as well. I am most comfortable in receiving and inventory; however, I am open to working in any department where you see fit."26. What type of career growth do you feel we can offer you here at Trader Joe's? The interviewer would like to know if you see this opportunity as a long-term fit. Talk to the hiring manager about the career growth that you are hoping for. How does the position with Trader Joe's fit in with your goals? Here is an answer example: "I am looking forward to growing into a leadership and management position. Because you offer internal training and you promote from within, I am confident that Trader Joe's could offer me the career growth that I am seeking." Here is an answer example: "I hope to see steady career growth as I earn it, and as I feel ready to take on additional responsibilities. I would be happy to work my way into a cashier position once I have proven my capabilities at Trader Joe's."27. At Trader Joe's we are set apart from our competitors by our incredible customer service. What is your customer service philosophy? The interviewer wants to be sure that you are able and willing to carry the torch when it comes to stellar customer service. What does excellent customer service mean to you and how does your philosophy match the customer service philosophy at Trader Joe's? Here is an answer example: "My customer service philosophy is to always go above and beyond what the customer is expecting from you. When you pleasantly surprise them, they are sure to come back time and time again! I have read that your philosophy is to connect with your customers on an emotional level, ensure consistency, accessibility, and always to take the extra step in customer service greatness." Here is an answer example: "My customer service philosophy is simple! I believe in always delivering the same level of customer service that I would expect as a customer. I am sure to be helpful, and motivated by kindness in all that I do."28. At Trader Joe's our success is greatly based on the engagement level of our employees. Do you consider yourself a reliable employee? Assure the interviewer that you are ready to be a reliable and engaged team member. In which ways are you prepared to make an impact, if hired? How will you best show your appreciation for this position, if Trader Joe's offers you the role? Here is an answer example: "When you call my references you will see that I am a very reliable and willing worker. When hired by Trader Joe's, I plan to be a top performing employee right away. I'm excited about this opportunity!" Here is an answer example: "I do consider myself reliable. I have strong tenure in my previous work history, and I am always on time for work. You can be assured that if you hire me at Trader Joes that you will not be disappointed in my dedication and performance."29. In this role with Trader Joe's, there are a few levels of management. Tell me about your ability to accept guidance and feedback from multiple managers. Assure the interviewer that you are accustomed to working with multiple department managers at a time. Give an example of a time where you have worked with cross-functional management teams. Here is an answer example: "In my last position I worked in the stocking department and was required to answer to the deli, bakery, and fresh produce managers. I am accustomed to working with multiple managers. This experience has helped me to learn more about how important clear communication is." Here is an answer example: "I have no issue when it comes to accepting feedback from multiple supervisors or managers. I truly believe that we can all learn so much from each-other. I always appreciate constructive feedback when it's coming from a good place."30. We are in a very competitive market. Why do you want to work for Trader Joe's? Discuss with the interviewer the reasons why working for Trader Joe's would be a top choice for you vs. their competitors. Personalize your answer by utilizing the research you have conducted on their organization. Here is an answer example: "I do understand that your industry is very competitive; however, I feel that you stand out from the crowd. I want to work for your company because you are a Top 100 Employer with a strong reputation for quality products and friendly service. You pay your employees better than most other grocery stores and offer perks like a 10% product discount and affordable health care coverage." Here is an answer example: "I chose to apply to your organization because I have a few friends who work for you and they have amazing things to say. Reputation is everything, and your industry reputation seems great."31. What do you know about Trader Joe's? The interviewer would like to know that you are engaged in the interview process and that you have researched Trader Joe's before attending your interview. Discuss a couple of the positive points you have come across and be sure to compliment the organization on a recent award or achievement. Here is an answer example: "I have researched Trader Joe's online and see that you have been around for over 50 years, first starting out as a family owned and operated local grocer. Your work environment seems very friendly, your stores are clean, and I am happy to see that you were recently recognized as a Top 100 Employer in our state! People love your grocery stores because you offer every day low prices and a fun, casual environment." Here is an answer example: "I have read a lot about Trader Joe's and like what I see so far. I know that you are very focused on your customers and offering everyday affordable prices on high-quality products while still keeping a great investment in your employees by way of paid time off and great health benefits. Your workplace culture seems open and communicative which is what I am looking for. I can't wait to be fitted for my Hawaiian shirt!"32. Our stores are open nearly 24/7. Are you able to accommodate early start times, late start times, split shifts, weekends, overtime hours, and holidays? The interviewer would like to know if there are restrictions on your availability. If your schedule is wide open, that is great - but, most people do have some conflicts in their schedule. Discuss your availability openly with the hiring manager at Trader Joe's. Here is an answer example: "My schedule is quite flexible except for Sunday mornings. I am eager to work as many hours as possible and will certainly be available to work overtime as needed." Here is an answer example: "My school schedule requires me to work a typical 8-4 Monday to Friday and my weekend availability is completely open."
Author of Trader Joes 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: 05/26/2018 Last modified on: 08/21/2018
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