Here's how you can ace these 5 seasonal-job interview questions
Employers treat the hiring process for temp positions as seriously as permanent ones.
The days are getting shorter, the back-to-school displays are packed away, and everything is pumpkin flavored. This can only mean one thing: Holiday hiring season is here. That means it's also time to start practicing your answers to interview questions for seasonal employment. Retailers, distribution centers, and other companies that experience a surge in business around the holidays are focused on hiring additional staff to help keep up with sales demands.
But now isn’t the only time of year to consider applying for a seasonal job. Plenty of industries have different busy seasons and will focus on hiring during other months.
Whatever the season, just because these positions are temporary doesn’t mean the interview will be a cakewalk. Hiring managers are as hard on prospective seasonal employees as they are on those interviewing for permanent roles. To improve your chance of getting hired, prepare answers for these common seasonal-job interview questions.
"This job will only last ‘X’ weeks; why are you interested?"
Some seasonal employers will want to know how you feel about working a job you know doesn’t likely have a future beyond their busy season. Expressing your interest in the company, what you have to offer, and what you hope to get out of the experience—even if it ends—is your best bet.
You say: “Being part of the team during the peak season would be a win-win. It would help you meet your business goals for the season and allow me to learn more about the business first-hand.”
"How have you provided excellent customer service?"
Any time of year, the No. 1 quality retailers want in cashiers and sales associates is great customer service skills. And these are even more important during the busy holiday shopping season. Consumers can often buy the same products elsewhere, so keeping them happy is essential to earning their business.
Another way a retail hiring manager might phrase this question is, “What was a difficult situation you had with a customer and how did you handle it?” Your answer should focus on how you turned a bad situation around and ended it on a positive note—even if your experience isn’t retail-specific.
If you're a teenager without a lot of work experience, show the interviewer that you're friendly, outgoing, and articulate. Speak clearly, don't hide your face when you're talking, and engage in conversation with your interviewer.
You say: “As a cashier for Yummy Burgers, I once had a customer become irate because of the long wait for her order. I calmly explained that it took a bit longer because we were cooking her special order fresh. I apologized for the long wait and offered her a free dessert for her trouble. It calmed her down, and she returned to our restaurant.”
"How flexible is your schedule?"
When interviewing for seasonal positions, recruiters often ask candidates about their schedules, as the company needs to ensure it has the help it needs when it needs it.When employers ask about your flexibility, they’re interested in any hours you’re willing to work: nights, weekends, holidays, etc. During the busy season, they need people they can count on. Be as clear and complete as you can in your answer, and be sure to include any scheduling restrictions.
You say: “I’m available to work Tuesday through Sunday evenings after 6. I’m totally unavailable on Mondays, but will be available during daytime hours on the other days starting in two weeks, when my school term ends.”
"What do you know about our company and our products and services?"
You can expect some interview questions for seasonal employment to overlap with common questions for full-time work. Don’t skimp on your job-search checklist just because this is a seasonal job. It’s vital to research the company before your interview and be familiar with its products and services. Follow the company on social media, check out their website, read up on news about it, and, if it’s a retailer, visit a store.
You say: “I spent some time visiting the stores on 7th Street and uptown, and it was clear to me that brand consistency is a priority. I was impressed with how packaging and presentation were almost identical in the two different stores.”
How do you multitask?
“Tell me about how you handle trying to get multiple things done at once. How do you make sure it all gets done?” are typical retail interview questions. Because of the busy pace around the holidays, every employee will need to be able handle several tasks at once. Show with examples how you can perform well in this situation.
You say: “When I’m bombarded with homework, and I have tests to study for, and I want to make it to an event on the weekend, I write out all the things I need to accomplish, set a time to do each one, and check them off as I complete them so nothing gets forgotten.”
What special skills do you have that can help our customers?
Some stores may be on the lookout for candidates with unique skills. For example, high school and college drama students are good candidates for jobs selling Halloween costumes. Anyone with party-planning experience is helpful, too, particularly through the graduation and wedding season in the spring and fall.
Know your unique skill set and seek out retailers that could use them. Then sell those skills in the interview.
You say: “I'm very big into crafting and am familiar with different types of tools and materials. I will be able to explain different options and uses to customers here at Craft World.”
Knowing how to answer interview questions for seasonal employment is a great first step. Now you have to get out there and find the right jobs for you. Need help getting started? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of seasonal jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.