Staples is one of the leading office technology and supply stores in the United States, but it takes an army of employees to keep the enterprise running. This can be a popular position for people of any experience level and can provide steady employment while working toward your long-term career goals. Before you can land the job, however, you must be able to interview well. By studying and preparing for questions like these, you can be ready to ace the interview for a position with Staples.
1. What does customer service mean to you?
Any retail position in a Staples store will focus heavily on customer service, so it’s essential that you prepare yourself for that aspect of the position you apply for. The interviewer will want to assess how you envision customer service as part of the job, so be ready to talk a little about your personal philosophy or thinking around customer service.
To me, customer service is about doing everything I can to make the customer happy with their purchase. I will make it a point to greet each customer as they walk in the door and be ready and willing to answer questions and direct customers if they need assistance. If I am unable to help, I will point them to another associate or resource to make sure they are satisfied with their shopping experience.
2. How do you manage a busy workload during the day?
Retail in any environment can be fast-paced, and you might have to manage several sections of the store simultaneously or handle a busy rush of customers singlehandedly. Your manager will want to ensure that they have made the right choice in picking a reliable employee that can handle the stress of a busy workday.
I would be willing to do whatever is necessary for the good of the store and my teammates. I’ve worked retail positions before and have been responsible for answering customer questions while restocking shelves. I have also run a register by myself during a weekend rush, so I would do my best to provide cheerful but quick service when I check out customers for their purchases.
3. How would you deal with an upset customer?
Inevitably, you’re going to meet a customer who simply cannot be pleased or who will find anything to complain about. It’s important not to lose your cool and do your best in any situation, so be ready when an interviewer asks this question.
I can understand a customer’s frustration if we did not have the right product in stock or if they were confused about some of the features we offered. If that kind of situation were to occur, I would do my best to ask questions in order to fully understand what the customer wants, then talk about the options we have available or offer a reasonable alternative. If they continue to act upset, I would offer to bring my manager over and let them resolve the situation. I know it’s important to stay level-headed when that happens and not try to solve everything myself.
4. What would you do if you caught someone shoplifting?
Unfortunately, this is a sad reality of retail. Your new employee training will provide official company policy on how to handle shoplifters, but the interviewer will likely try to assess how you would handle a potentially tense situation.
If I were to see someone shoplifting from the store, I would report it to my manager immediately. I would try to observe the individual to be able to provide a description, then be ready to report to my manager or the authorities with what I saw.
5. What are the most important qualities for someone in this role to possess?
This is a chance for the interviewer to really test applicants to see if they understand the position well. It’s a sort of reverse question since they know what they are looking for but are trying to gauge how prepared you are for the role. This is not a trick question, and there may not be a “right” answer; just be honest with what you feel is the biggest part of working at Staples.
To me, friendly customer service is tops for this kind of role, along with being able to direct customers to any product or section they are looking for. Most people will know what they want right away, but knowing our inventory is especially important when someone only has a vague idea of what they are shopping for. I would point out any ongoing deals or coupons to try to provide good value for their purchase and would do my best to provide prompt service when checking out, since the customer’s time is valuable to them.
6. Why are you looking for a new position?
This is an important question to be ready to answer and will depend a great deal on your current situation. You might be between jobs, or you might be trying to leave a position you’re unhappy in. Whatever the case, you can be honest, but be sure not to speak badly of the job you just left. If you do, you may be seen as ungrateful or hard to work with, so try your best to put a positive spin on your line of thinking.
I’m actually finishing up a Business major at my university, and I’m looking for different kinds of real-world experience. I’ve held several summer and holiday jobs over the past few years, but haven’t gotten a chance to work with an office supply or technology store. I think the experience would be great for me to understand product marketing and sales. I’ve also looked into career paths for Staples, and I think I would be able to have a future with the company in a manager or corporate role.
7. Talk about a time you were able to provide excellent customer service.
As we’ve seen, customer service is key to working in any position at Staples. In addition to talking about what customer service means to you, you may be asked to talk about a time when you thought you went above and beyond on behalf of the customer. Having a good example handy to talk about not only shows that you’re prepared for the interview or that you understand good customer service, but it’s also a golden opportunity to brag on yourself a little.
Last summer, I worked at my neighborhood florist, which was owned by my grandparents. We had a customer looking for custom arrangements for their wedding, and I was the only salesperson on the floor at the time. I had shadowed the event planner for some time, so I was able to pull out the folders we keep on file for the same wedding arrangements and spent several hours working through everything they wanted for their ceremony and reception. When the event planner returned, I brought them up to speed on what we had discussed, then followed up with the customer to set an appointment to finalize everything. They said the wedding was beautiful and that they couldn’t have done it all without my help.
8. How do you feel about being a salesperson?
Sales is an important part of a position with Staples, and it takes the right kind of person to sell in certain situations. You’ll need to be comfortable with that aspect of the job and be able to answer questions like this when asked.
I look at selling to customers as trying to satisfy their needs, not just force them to buy something because it’s on sale. I would do my best to ask questions and figure out what’s going to be most useful to the customer, then offer what we have available to meet that need.
9. Do you consider yourself a team player?
You will need to support your coworkers, and they’ll need to support you – both relationships are critical each day on the job. Be ready to talk about your approach to teamwork.
Everybody on the team is in this together, so I would do what I could to support my team if needed, whether that’s assisting with stocking shelves or helping another associate answer a customer’s questions. I’ve covered shifts for coworkers when needed and had them do the same for me, so I know that would be important to do as well.
10. What is your availability for weekends and holidays?
Working in retail means that you’ll need to work some later hours on occasion. Furthermore, you will probably be expected to cover weekend or holiday rushes as needed. If you have legitimate scheduling needs, feel free to say so, but know that interviewers will be looking for someone with fairly wide availability if possible.
I enjoy keeping busy and love helping people get what they need around the holidays. I’ve worked several holiday seasons and have covered back-to-school time at other stores I’ve worked at. My availability is pretty open, so I’m free for almost any schedule you’d be able to prepare.
Next 30 Most Asked Staples Interview Questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- What can you tell me about Staples?
- Why do you want to work for Staples?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why should I hire you?
- What are some ways you could increase productivity in this role?
- What words would you use to describe yourself?
- Talk about a time you enjoyed a work project.
- How do you plan to increase company value over time?
- How do you handle constructive feedback?
- What is your favorite book?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- If money was not a factor, what would you be doing with your life?
- How do you handle stress?
- Choose a common item in this room, and sell it to me.
- How do you feel about a commission-based compensation model?
- Are you comfortable with making cold calls?
- Have you ever worked for Staples before?
- Do you consider yourself a flexible employee?
- Do you see yourself having a future career with Staples?
- What do you see as the most rewarding thing about a career in sales?
- How would you resolve workplace conflict?
- What would your previous boss say about you as an employee?
- How do you stay on top of current technology trends?
- What motivates you at work?
- Tell me about a goal you achieved recently.
- Describe your “dream job.”
- If you know you will be late or miss work, what would you do?
10 Best Questions to Ask in a Staples Interview
Here are 10 sample questions you can ask the interviewer when you’ve applied to Staples. Most companies will give you time to ask your own questions in case you weren’t able to have them answered during the initial discussion, or to see how engaged you are in the application process.
- What do you like best about working with Staples?
- How would you describe your ideal candidate for this position?
- What is the most important thing to know about this position?
- How will you measure success for this role?
- How can I exceed expectations in this position?
- What opportunities for growth and advancement would be available to me?
- What does a typical schedule look like?
- Describe the duties expected in this role on a typical day.
- How often would I be responsible for closing the store?
- What kind of employee perks are available?
Staples can be a great company to work for, and there are a variety of positions you can apply for in their retail stores (or even through corporate distribution and support). By using questions like these to prepare for your interview, you’ll be ready to talk about why you’re the perfect fit for the Staples family. Just be sure to tailor your answers to your own experience, and you’ll be good to go!
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.