Cashier Essay

When interviewing for a cashier position, you really want to do everything you can to show the interviewer your customer service skills and trustworthiness. While you should always be prepared for common job interview questions, there are a few cashier-specific questions that you’ll want to make sure you have practiced before hand.

How would you describe excellent customer service?

As a cashier, you will constantly be interacting with customers. It's crucial that you provide quality service and that your description is in sync with how the employer views customer service.

"I would define excellent customer service as doing whatever is necessary to keep the customer happy. Whether it's greeting them with a smile, ensuring they have everything they need, or providing them with assistance. It also means resolving any issues that may arise, no matter who was at fault."

Do you prefer working alone or on a team? Why?

In any job, being able to work with a team and get along with others is important. However, make it clear to the interviewer that you can still accomplish goals successfully on your own.

"I work highly effectively alone, however I prefer to work on a team because it can be extremely beneficial. I feel that collaborating with others allows for more ideas and higher efficiency and speed. If we're all working well together, it will be apparent to our customers and reflect well on the company."

A coworker calls in sick leaving you to work the shift alone with long lines. What do you do?

This is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you are not flustered easily and still work well under stress and pressure.

"The key is to prepare for the shift ahead both mentally and strategically. I would still provide exceptional customer service, but also adjust my work style to be faster paced than usual so that the lines would move quickly. A positive attitude and great service can outweigh a slight wait in line. If after some time the lines were still long, I would consult with my manager about calling in another coworker to help cover the shift."

Are you comfortable handling money?

The main role of a cashier is to handle customer's transactions so you need to show that you can be trusted with money and are comfortable doing such.

"Handling money is expected to be my primary duty. I have no problem with that responsibility. I've worked as a cashier for three years and have experience counting back change and balancing my cash register. A customer has never had an issue and my register has never come up short."

Tell me about a time you provided excellent customer service.

Employers look for candidates that can do their jobs well, while keeping the customers happy. Recall a past situation where you went above and beyond to give great service.

"A customer came in looking for a product she saw online, however we did not carry it in stores. I apologized and explained that our store inventory differed from our online inventory. I showed her a similar product in our store that she could purchase. As well as offering her the option of free express shipping on the online product just in case she was sold on that specific one. I allowed her to choose whichever was most convenient for her to show we were willing to do whatever it took for her to leave a happy customer."

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As a job advice expert, I get lots of questions from eager 14- and 15-year-olds asking about how they can get a job before their sixteenth birthday. They have what I like to call gumption. A go-get-'em kind of attitude that will surely take them far in life. If they are the early birds, I was a late bloomer. When I was a teenager, my mom had to arm wrestle me into responsibility (some might say she is still fighting that war). She won the battle and I applied for a job at the only place I knew I couldn't lose: the local grocery store.

The interview

In the days before convenient websites like Snagajob, there was the ol' fashioned way: pencils, paper cuts and piles of paper applications. I walked up to the customer service counter and was handed a beige four-page application with carefully printed green text. It was a custom job application, not your average, run-of-the-mill Xerox. I filled it out, turned it in, exchanged niceties and walked out.

A few days later I got a message from a hiring manager that oversaw recruiting for a group of the local stores. She set up a time for the interview. I wore a striped sweater and khakis and knocked her socks off. She hired me on the spot with a stellar starting wage of $7 per hour. It might not meet minimum wage requirements now, but in 2000 it was a big deal.

Training

This particular grocery store chain (now closed, unfortunately) was well known for their top-notch customer service. They achieved this by putting every employee, from bag boy to executive, through a four-hour training program. The information covered company history and the importance of great customer service. I remember two things from this training: that Ukrop's was the first grocery store to ever have a valued customer card, and that it's far less expensive to keep an old customer than to find a new one.

After the training class, I was given my first week's schedule. The first day consisted of a tour of the store, employee procedures like clocking in and out, and a whole night of register training. During my register training I was given a list of codes for common produce items that my training manager recommended I take home and commit to memory. Being young and over confident, I did not. Big mistake.

The actual job

It was a pretty awesome first job. You learn to dread the really full carts, I'm not sure why. In your head it seems like less work to check out several customers with a few items than one customer with a hundred. You also learn to appreciate those careful shoppers who put their meat in produce bags, because when they don't you've got to clean the gross meat juice off the belt. After a month or so, you'll learn all the produce codes and they'll pop into your head when you do your own grocery shopping.

The best part

Besides the fact that I made more money than most of my friends, I also got to work with people my own age. We joked around a lot, sometimes sacrificing customer service for conversation, and it made the time fly by. Between talking to interesting customers (it takes a long time to ring up an entire cart of groceries) and messing around with my buddies, I could work an eight-hour shift on the weekend and not even dread going into work. Oh, and, birthdays off with pay didn't hurt either. The great thing about working for large grocery store chains is that the benefits are usually pretty good. They will typically offer the same perks to everyone in the organization.

The worst part

The bag-every-item-of-produce-separately lady. She was seriously ridiculous. She would come in once a week five minutes before we closed and buy produce. She'd double bag every item separately. When I say separately, I don't mean apples in one bag and bananas in another. I mean if she had five apples she had 10 bags (two for each apple). It drove me, and everyone else, up the wall. Finicky customers come with the territory, though.

Some shifts I would get stuck bagging (the worst) and as much as I'd try to avoid it, I'd be stuck carting out groceries in the million degree, humid, Richmond, Virginia summers. The cold I could deal with, but the heat here is no joke. Thankfully, the company let us wear shorts if we had to be outside (the normal dress code was khakis).

I honestly don't know why I quit. I left for the promise of a few cents more per hour, but I shouldn't have. It was a great company. And I'll never forget that the code for asparagus is 4080.

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