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Bookstore Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

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.
Job Interviews     Careers     Sales    
Question 1 of 25
What is your favorite genre of books?
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How to Answer
The interviewer will be interested to know what type of books you like to read. Take the opportunity to relay information about some of your all-time favorite reads within that genre. It's a great idea to ask the question in turn so that you can get to know your interviewer on a more personal level."
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Answer Examples
1.
What is your favorite genre of books?
The interviewer will be interested to know what type of books you like to read. Take the opportunity to relay information about some of your all-time favorite reads within that genre. It's a great idea to ask the question in turn so that you can get to know your interviewer on a more personal level."

Rachelle's Answer #1
"

For example: "
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I enjoy learning more about the environment. Subjects such as environmental sustainability and global warming interest me. What is your favorite genre?"
Anonymous Answer
"I mostly read fantasy; I like getting lost in new worlds, but I am trying to broaden my horizons into other genres."
Rachelle's Answer
Concise and well said. Good response!
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2.
Why do you want to work here?
The interviewer wants to hear that you are passionate about working for them. Think of the aspects you like most about this bookstore. Perhaps you have a friend who works there and loves it. Maybe you are looking forward to a significant discount on books. Just share what you like most about the company, and share that this is a big part of why you want to work for this organization.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am a passionate shopper of your store and an avid reader who loves to share that with others. As an inspiring writer, I would love to surround myself with up and coming authors and readers. As a customer, I believe in your store's values around customer care and the services you provide to the community."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have a friend who works here in the summer months, between semesters, and he said it's the best job he's ever held. He recommended that I apply here because I am equally passionate about research and reading. I would be a great resource for your customers."
Anonymous Answer
"I like reading, but I also like being surrounded by a wide selection of books. Your bookstore feels like a library with your great collection, and I also like the ambiance of your store."
Rachelle's Answer
Nice answer, as it compliments the store while tying in your needs from a personal and employment perspective.
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3.
Do you have a favorite author?
Here is your opportunity to share with the interviewer if you have a favorite author and why. There is no right or wrong answer; however, be sure to show some excitement and be prepared with a well-researched answer.

For example "Hands down, my favorite author is Tony Robbins. I am currently reading his book, 'Unshakeable.' His enthusiasm for personal and professional development excites me. He writes on a relatable level and shares experiences that resonate with me."
Rachelle's Answer #1
"Hands down, my favorite author is Tony Robbins. I am currently reading his book, 'Unshakeable.' His enthusiasm for personal and professional development excites me. He writes on a relatable level and shares experiences that resonate with me."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I quite prefer to read a book by more classic authors. My favorite author of all time is Ernest Hemingway. I just finished reading 'The Sun Also Rises,' which I have read three times. Next, I am going to read one of his newer books, 'A Moveable Feast.' "
Anonymous Answer
"I enjoyed many different books by many authors, so I don't have a particular favorite author. However, after reading "The Night Circus," I do like Erin Morgenstern's lyrical writing style."
Rachelle's Answer
Perfect answer!
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4.
Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond.
Display to the interviewer that you can do more than just the bare minimum. Show that you can react well when you see that your employer has a need that goes beyond your usual day-to-day expectations.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I enjoy going above and beyond with my work. In my last position, I regularly called customers just to let them know that we had a new product coming into the store, or a great sale coming up."
Anonymous Answer
"I tend to be an overachiever and try my best with everything. I also like helping others in any way I can. I help my friends and family with projects and big chores they have for me."
Rachelle's Answer
Try a response that is more related to work or school.
"When midterms came around, I was approached many times by fellow students who had questions on the material. Although it was important that I had the study time I needed, I also wanted to be a help to my fellow students. During the week before the exam, I carved out one hour per day to lead a study group. In the end, I felt great about taking the time to help others, while also strengthening my skills in leadership and coaching."
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5.
We have had concerns with employee theft recently. What would you do if you caught an employee stealing?
The interviewer would like to know that they can trust you to report theft and dishonesty in the workplace. Some businesses have trouble with employee theft, and they need to make sure that they are hiring someone who is honest and trustworthy. Talk to the interviewer about the steps you would take if you caught a co-worker stealing.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am sure that you have an internal policy for employee theft so I can assure you that I would follow the required steps to report the theft. I am a trustworthy person with a strong track record of honesty with my previous employers."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I caught an employee stealing, I would report the incident immediately. As a previous manager, I understand the value of employee honesty."
Anonymous Answer
"I would report the incident immediately and follow any other guidelines or procedures you have for this incident."
Rachelle's Answer
Excellent!
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6.
Bookstores continue to struggle, why do you believe they will always be around?
Here is your opportunity to explain to the interviewer why you believe their store will continue to prosper, despite online competition and big box stores. Show your knowledge of the industry and express the value you see in small, independent retailers.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I believe that bookstores will always be around because most dedicated readers are committed to reading physical books, rather than digital versions. Also, consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of supporting local business. It's become an entire movement that I do not think is going away."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Bookstores have to compete with online shops and larger retailers, but they offer something special that you cannot buy from its competition: Community. People value a sense of community and connection."
7.
What do you know about our bookstore?
Before your job interview, make sure you are familiar with the company mission and values. You could visit the company website, read employee reviews or talk to anyone you know that works there. Learn as much as you can! Your interest in current seasonal promotions and ongoing events will show them how well you would integrate into this position.

Watch the videos on their website or social media and take note of the information on their careers page if one is available. Be prepared to talk about how much you appreciate their values such as doing book drives for the community schools. Whatever their mission is, you need to know it.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I come to your bookstore weekly! I'm passionate about reading and love that you do author readings each week showcasing new talent and promoting the lost art of hard copy reading material."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As an avid reader, I often purchase gifts for my friends and family centered around books. I have checked out your website and followed you on Facebook and Instagram. You also have great reviews from your loyal customers on Yelp. All of these things make me excited to work here."
Anonymous Answer
"I followed you on Facebook and saw the pictures of your store. Your store seems to offer a great collection of books and a wide selection of games, movies, and music as well. I really like that you have a variety of options. It gets me excited about working here."
Rachelle's Answer
If possible, you should visit the location in person rather than simply following on social media. This shows extra effort and genuine interest.
"I have followed your bookstore on Facebook for a while now, which is where I saw your job ad, initially. I recently visited your shop and picked up a copy of 'Then She Was Gone,' a mystery novel one of your staff members recommended to me. I appreciate your vast collection of books, games, movies, and music. Your selection and excellent customer service training make me excited to work here."
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8.
How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
The interviewer would like to know what motivates you to be an over-achiever in the workplace.

We all like to be recognized in some way for our accomplishments in the workplace. Share with the interviewer how you would want recognition for your hard work. Through gifts? Financial perks? Public recognition? Kind words? Title promotions?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am very much an over-achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is to be given words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged, and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work is being noticed."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am very simple. I do not require any formal recognition, but kind words from my coworkers and superiors will keep me motivated and working hard."
9.
Are you a reliable person? Tell me about your punctuality and accountability on the job.
Assure the interviewer that you are reliable and can be counted on to work in a non-traditional 9-5 work environment. Here is your chance to highlight your work ethic and show the value that you can offer.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I pride myself on being reliable and going above and beyond in my role. I take personal accountability for my work and provide a great example to my coworkers."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I was raised to believe that you should be 10 minutes early for everything. My proactive nature typically leads me to arrive at work early to prepare for a successful day ahead. I am very reliable and punctual."
Anonymous Answer
"I always make sure to arrive 10 to 15 minutes to any places or meet ups. I am always prepared for any occasion as well. I take responsibility for all my work at home and school."
Rachelle's Answer
Try to expand on how you are always prepared for any occasion. That is a big statement that the interviewer would want to unpack.
"What makes me reliable is that I am always 10 minutes early for work or any situation where someone is relying on me. I take responsibility for my deadlines and will stay late to finish tasks. If I make an error, I will address the mistake, learn how to fix it, and see things through until they are correct."
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10.
Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?
In addition to compensation, there are many other factors to a fulfilling career. Talk to the interviewer about other factors that are important to you when considering a new job.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Salary is important to me because I know that I am skilled and well educated. With that said, I do look at the full picture which includes factors such as benefits, employee discounts, commission opportunities, and workplace culture."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"At this point in my career, I value fit and hours more than I do compensation."

Anonymous Answer
"Since this is my first time taking a job, I am focused on receiving experience and hours."
Rachelle's Answer
I would suggest leaving out the fact that you are taking your first job, and focusing more on what type of compensation and perks you are looking for.
"Fair compensation is a priority to me as well as joining a business that offers solid training, and flexible hours around my school schedule."
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11.
How often do you find yourself reading?
Your potential employer is interested in knowing that you are passionate about reading. Here is your opportunity to shine and share your love of reading. If you are a writer, be sure to share that information with the interviewer.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I try to read a significant novel each month. In between, I chip away at other special interest books. I like to be up to speed on current events, so often find myself doing further research after reading an article on a specific story."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I read every single day before I go to bed. I am an avid reader, and this practice also helps me to sleep better because it shuts my brain off from television and my phone."
Anonymous Answer
"I try to read as often as I can. I read at least one book a month. It helps me relax and escape the world for a long period of time."
Rachelle's Answer
Good response; however, you could build on it. Try to mention specifics on the genre you enjoy reading or the last book you read.
"I read every day if I can and complete at least one book per month. My favorite genre is mystery and thriller with the last book I finished being 'Guilt' by Amanda Robson."
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12.
Tell me about your last job. What was your favorite part of the role and why did you leave?
The interviewer will be interested in learning more about the transferable skills from your last role. Here is your opportunity to focus in on customer service in a retail environment. You will want to position your job change as positively as possible. Perhaps you needed more hours, or the business closed.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My last role was in a retail clothing establishment. In my previous role, I enjoyed building relationships with customers and making the shopping experience memorable with a personal touch. While fashion is fun, I value surrounding myself with like-minded people. As a lover of books, this place speaks to me like home."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My last job was working as a cashier in a movie theatre. I enjoyed the work, and the perks were great; however, the late hours were not conducive to my school schedule. I look forward to bringing my customer service skills to work for you."

Anonymous Answer
"I do not have any prior work experience in retail. This is my first time entering the workforce. I do have unpaid and volunteering experiences from school."
Rachelle's Answer
Perfect response if you do not have prior work experience. It's great that you drew in volunteer work - employers like that!
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13.
Are you comfortable handling a cash register and managing transactions?
The interviewer wants to know that you are comfortable, and experienced when it comes to handling sales transactions. If you have experience with a particular type of program, you can indeed mention the names of the programs.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Customer sales support is part of the role as a customer service representative in a retail setting. I take pride in ensuring accuracy in all transactions and am comfortable handling registers. I have experience with POS and the use of Moneris."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Although I am new to the workforce, I am confident in my ability to manage cash and credit card transactions. With just a little bit of training, I will be good to go! Is there any program that I can begin to study, to get a head start?"
Anonymous Answer
"With a little bit of training, I can manage cash and credit transactions."
Rachelle's Answer
Try exuding more confidence in your response. Chances are, you have used point of sale machines as a customer, already giving you an idea how that technology works. Also, you have handled cash in your personal life, making purchases, etc. You know more than you think!
"I am comfortable handling cash and making change for customers. I am familiar with the idea of point of sale machines as well. I am confident that, with a bit of training, I will learn your internal systems quickly."
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14.
How often do you shop for books here?
Any store loves to hire people who are passionate about their company. Good customers are your best advocates, so it's a great idea to turn them into dedicated employees. Now is your opportunity to share any specific customer experiences you have had there. Be sure to tell the interviewer how frequently you shop at their bookstore.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I frequently shop for books for myself, and others, at your bookstore. I appreciate that you offer free coffee to keep me shopping for awhile and have the latest selection of books that interest me. Your gift section is great as well. I would say that I shop here at least twice per month."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have shopped here many times before and am a big advocate for supporting local business. Every experience in your bookstore is positive which is why I am applying here. Your customer service is excellent, and your coffee shop makes the best macchiatos!"
Anonymous Answer
"This is actually my first time being here. I have heard great comments about this place and planned on coming in. I checked out your Facebook page first and saw the job post there, and thought that I should apply since I always wanted to work at a bookstore."
Rachelle's Answer
This response is okay if you are geographically too far away to visit the store. However; if you live nearby and state that you planned to come in, this response could work against you. Saying you 'planned to', along with 'always wanted to work in a bookstore' could be misinterpreted as traits of inaction.
"Your bookstore came highly recommended to me by a friend who comes here for poetry readings every week. I came by just a few days ago and was impressed with your selection as well as the literary knowledge your staff offered. I follow your social media accounts as well!"
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15.
In your opinion, what separates us from the big box bookstores and popular websites?
This question offers you the opportunity to show off your love for local business! Focus on the sense of community and personal touch a local bookstore provides as opposed to a big-box corporation. What separates may include local events, customer care with a personal touch and community involvement.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Your store is one of the major attractions of this community. As a regular shopper here, the management is great, and your team does a fantastic job at making each customer experience memorable. This experience is not something you can find in a larger, corporate retail store or even when shopping online."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"A sense of community is an important value to me. This is not something that larger big-box stores, or e-commerce, can provide."
Anonymous Answer
"Your store provides a sense of community, which big book retailers can't provide."
Rachelle's Answer
Try to expand on this to show you have done your research. This answer is very general.
"Multiple factors set you apart from big box bookstores. The fact that you have an entire section dedicated to local authors is just one reason. Also, I see that you host many writers' workshops throughout the year and host very popular poetry jams. I look forward to joining a smaller business that offers such a strong sense of community."
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25 Bookstore Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. What is your favorite genre of books?
  2. Why do you want to work here?
  3. Do you have a favorite author?
  4. Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond.
  5. We have had concerns with employee theft recently. What would you do if you caught an employee stealing?
  6. Bookstores continue to struggle, why do you believe they will always be around?
  7. What do you know about our bookstore?
  8. How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
  9. Are you a reliable person? Tell me about your punctuality and accountability on the job.
  10. Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?
  11. How often do you find yourself reading?
  12. Tell me about your last job. What was your favorite part of the role and why did you leave?
  13. Are you comfortable handling a cash register and managing transactions?
  14. How often do you shop for books here?
  15. In your opinion, what separates us from the big box bookstores and popular websites?
  16. What was the last book you read?
  17. How many days were you absent from work last year?
  18. What type of manager brings out the best in you?
  19. Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn't know from reading your resume.
  20. Do you have any leadership experience in a retail environment?
  21. Have you had sales goals in any previous roles?
  22. If a customer was looking for a particular book that we did not have, how would you turn that into a sale?
  23. How would you keep a customer engaged and excited about being in our store?
  24. How many hours would you like to work per week?
  25. What is your favorite book?
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