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12 Interview Questions from Starbucks and How to Answer Them

working in a coffee shop

Starbucks is known for having an amazing work culture. When it comes to employee development, paying a living wage, amazing benefits, and advancement opportunities, Starbucks is often viewed as the gold standard. In addition to that, they truly live up to their corporate social responsibility statement, and their commitment to D, E, & I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). 

All of this is makes Starbucks an attractive place to work, especially as a college student or recent graduate. But they also have a competitive hiring process. If you want to triumph over that, you better know how to beat these common interview questions from Starbucks.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Work at Starbucks?

You have to be 16 years old to work at Starbucks in most states. Some will hire 15-year-olds and very rarely 14 year-olds. So if you are a high school student or in college, it can be a good part-time job with an opportunity for promotions. 

How Do you Pass a Starbucks Interview?

Starbucks is all about culture. Pass your interview by showing that you will fit in well as a member of their team and that you understand Starbucks’ mission.

Before you go, do your research. Fortunately, Starbucks has made it exceptionally easy to learn about the company and the requirements for each role from visiting their website. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to do some pre-interview company research on your own and read reviews or insights from current and former employees.

Finally, Starbucks really emphasizes behavioral interview techniques. These are interview questions that begin with phrases like, “Tell me about a time when you…” or “Share an example of your…”. The idea is to get you talking and share some real-life examples that exemplify your skills and experience.

General Starbucks Job Interview Questions and Answers

Starbucks is regularly hiring for retail, corporate, manufacturing, and college internships. The interview questions for each of these positions are a bit different. However, most people will be asked these general interview questions no matter which position they are pursuing.

Can You Please Tell Us About Yourself?

A time-tested question allowing you to demonstrate your ability to speak clearly, respond to questions in an unstructured setting, and prioritize what is important. Remember that they don’t want a laundry list of personality traits and interests. They want you to give your answer in the context of the position. Don’t forget to take the company’s needs into consideration as well.

Example Answer:

“I’m very sociable, and enjoy meeting new people. I’ve been attending community college for the past year studying retail management, and have decided to focus my studies on the hospitality sector. I truly enjoy finding innovative ways to deliver amazing guest service.”

Read more about how to answer “tell me about yourself” interview question.

Why Do You Want to Work at Starbucks?

Interviewers want to know that you have realistic expectations of the position. Additionally, they want to know exactly why you are interested in the position. For example, Starbucks is known for being a fun workplace. However, the productivity demands are high and so are expectations. Focus on culture, but also merit.

Example Answer:

When I read that Starbucks refers to staff as partners, I was really impressed. I think it shows that this company encourages people to take ownership, and that creates a culture that values innovation and creative problem-solving. Further, my beliefs really do align with your mission statement. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I was attracted to your reputation for providing a fun, yet driven work environment.”

Read more about how to answer the “why you are interested in this position” interview question or watch our short video: 

Why Do You Think You’d Make a Good Fit for Starbucks?

This is where they want to see how your work style, personality, and drive are a good fit for the company and the position. This is a real turning point question as it asks you exactly what it is you bring to the table. Work hard to condense your most important selling points here. This is where you present your value proposition.

Example Answer:

“I’m energetic and personable. I’ve got food service experience, so I know how to handle a rush without getting in the weeds. With this location being so close to the local university, I imagine things get really busy here. I know how to deliver top-notch customer service when things get intense, and really prioritize backing up my coworkers when they need help.

Why Do You Love Coffee? 

Simply put, Starbucks sells coffee as one of its primary products. That’s not just their retail sales, but also as a wholesaler. They want people who appreciate and understand the product. But, what happens if you don’t like coffee? Don’t despair. Be honest, but also show an appreciation for and knowledge of their core product. Then, talk about what you really do love.

Example Answer:

“My roommate always brews a pot of your blond roast each morning, and it smells amazing. I also look forward to winter, when you start featuring peppermint, white chocolate, and other winter flavors. I treat myself to a peppermint hot chocolate at least once a week in December.”

Need more help? Check other common interview questions and answers from our team. 

6 Starbucks Barista Interview Questions

There are some interview questions that Starbucks reserves specifically for baristas. These questions have been adopted from candidate feedback on Glassdoor.

conducting job interview at the coffee shop

How Long Can an Espresso Shot Survive?

The job of a barista is a skilled position. You must have technical knowledge in place to deliver a quality product. Not only that, but you should also be able to explain why.

Example Answer:

“A shot of espresso is dead after 10 seconds. If it isn’t consumed or added to another liquid such as water, milk, or syrup the crema separates. This creates a bitter, burnt taste. It also loses the flavor complexities.”

How Well Do You Handle Demanding Customers?

They want to pre-assess your interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. They also want to understand what characteristics you see as difficult or demanding.

Example Answer:

“I like to think of demanding customers as discerning people who know what they want. When I have one to deal with, I take it as a challenge to deliver a great drink to them.” 

How Would You Manage a Customer Who Claims Their Drink Order is Wrong?

Remember that the customer isn’t always right. However, they do know what they want. The interviewer wants to know how you fix a mistake, or simply make a change to help them have the best possible experience.

Example Answer:

“I simply ask them what is missing or wrong, then I remake the drink order to their specifications. I’ll repeat the order back to them just for clarity. Of course, I will apologize for any inconvenience as well.

handling client claims

How Do You Take Constructive Criticism? 

Of course, anybody with common sense is going to say they handle constructive criticism well. What the interviewer really wants to know is what you do to incorporate constructive criticism in a way that improves your performance.

Example Answer:

“I listen carefully to the feedback, and ask for details. Then, I make a note to myself of how and where I can apply that advice to improve my on-the-job performance. Then I would follow up to see how I was improving.”

Tell Me About a Time When You Gave Great Customer Service?

As a barista, you are truly the key factor in the customer experience. The interviewer wants to know how you deliver that in a concrete way.

Example Answer:

“A few months ago, a customer called in with a huge order. They were very distressed as their regular vendor canceled on them at the last minute. I learned that they normally had their order delivered. That’s not something that we normally offer, but I got permission from my manager to personally drive their order to them, so they had one less thing to stress about.”

Tell Me About a Time When You’ve Made Someone’s Day? 

Starbucks cares about creating an environment that emphasizes kindness and empathy. Making someone’s day shows that you value others, and are willing to act on that in a tangible way.

Example Answer:

“One of my coworkers is a high school student. I learned they were scheduled to work on their birthday because they were unable to find someone to cover their shift. Of course, I volunteered to stay on a few extra hours so they could leave and enjoy the rest of the day and evening off. I remember how important it was at that age to have those memorable occasions.” 

4 Starbucks Shift Supervisor Interview Questions

Starbucks has a few other questions reserved for team leaders. Below are four Starbucks interview questions and answers for shift supervisors.

Tell Me About a Scenario in Which You Needed to Solve a Conflict Between Members of Your Team.

Shift supervisors are people managers above all else. You have to show that you can manage a team of people with sometimes conflicting needs and views. It’s tricky to handle conflicts, but you have to show you can deal with this gracefully.

Example Answer:

“Two of my crew members seemed to be constantly at odds. They were making everyone miserable with a constant lack of cooperation and sniping at each other. Finally, I sat them down for a meeting and asked each of them to articulate their issue with the other. Ultimately, neither one of them could really describe in real detail what the issue was. It truly boiled down to a minor set of disagreements that they were both refusing to let go of. Once that came to light, they both realized they weren’t getting anything positive from continuing the feud.”

How Do You Hold Others Accountable In Order to Meet Customer Objectives?

Many shift leaders make one of two mistakes: They either drive their staff too hard without giving them the support they need or they take on all the responsibility of meeting goals themselves. Neither of these is healthy or helpful. The interviewer wants to know how you build accountability in a way that works.

shift supervisor at coffee shop

Example Answer:

“I look at the monthly or weekly goals that have been given to me. Then, I consider each team member’s position and experience. I assign them daily or weekly KPIs that will allow them to contribute. Then I check in with them to be sure they have what they need to succeed. My goal is to get them without burning out.” 

What Do You Think Makes Stellar Customer Service?

You are applying for a job where you’re going to be judging other people on their ability to provide customer service. The interviewer naturally wants to know how you set those standards.

Example Answer:

“Listening and understanding are absolutely key. So is treating each person like a human being who just wants someone to empathize with them. Finally, I believe in looking for something special to do in each interaction to really make the customer experience amazing.” 

How Do You Motivate and Empower Others to Do Their Best Work? 

They say that people quit managers not jobs. The interviewer wants to see that your style of managing people aligns with the organization, and will get good results.

Example Answer:

“I start by setting a good example. My team will always find me on the floor working, cleaning, or helping with customers when things get busy. If I’m not demanding of myself, I can’t be demanding of them. I also work to identify each person’s strengths and assign work accordingly. That allows people to have more success throughout the day. Finally, I listen to their ideas and frustrations. When I can, I implement the changes they suggest.”

FAQs About Starbucks Hiring Practices 

To round this up, we’ve prepared answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about getting hired at Starbucks.

Is it hard to get hired at Starbucks?

Yes, it is quite hard to get hired at Starbucks, compared to other chain coffee shops and cafes. They offer jobs to only a small percentage of applicants. But given that they are a global company with many locations around the world, ultimately they hire about 80,000 people per year for part-time, temporary, and full-time positions. 

How long does it take to hear back from a Starbucks interview?

This depends. Corporate and production interviews take longer — about the standard one or two weeks. However, if you are applying for a retail position like a barista and the store is busy and short-staffed, you may receive an offer right after the first interview.

When should I call Starbucks after applying?

You should wait at least a week before calling them to ask about your application status. Then, never call more than once per week or you’ll appear too annoying and unprofessional. 

How long does it take for Starbucks to hire you?

The average time to hire for a new role at Starbucks is three weeks. However, barista jobs often hire faster than corporate ones. So it’s not unusual to be invited to the shop within a week or two after you receive an offer.

Author

  • Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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