Top 33 Costco Interview Questions (+ Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

When it comes to warehouse clubs, Costco is easily one of the biggest names in the game. In 2019 alone, the retail behemoth raked in $152.7 billion in sales. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the gross national products (GDPs) of Iceland, Panama, and Tanzania, combined. Talk about a retail powerhouse.

Plus, the company is considered one of the best retail employers around. Its retention rate is about 94 percent, which is astonishing (especially compared to retail and wholesale sector retention average of a measly 39.5 percent).

What does that mean?

Everyone wants to work there, and vacancies don’t happen a lot, that’s what. To put it simply, the hiring landscape is shockingly competitive.

Does that mean you should panic before you head in to face Costco interview questions? Absolutely not. You just have to make sure you’re prepared to electrify the hiring manager.

How to Answer Costco Interview Questions

Costco couldn’t have achieved so much success without the help and support of its approximately 254,000 employees. Since Costco has a reputation for offering exceptional customer service to its 98.5 million members, they take hiring so seriously, it’s intimidating. If you don’t see you as the brightest bulb in the pack, you might get passed over.

So, how do you show them that you’re the spark the team needs? With the shiniest strategy possible, that’s how.

Now, it’s important to note that not all Costco interview questions are universal. Many of them are position-dependent. Every role requires different capabilities, so what works for one job might not work so well for another.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for YOUR Costco interview. You just need to know what the hiring manager is looking for. What’s a great way to learn that? By reviewing the lighthouse in the darkness that is the job description.

Every job description outlines what it takes to handle a job’s core responsibilities. That little bundle of paragraphs is a beacon, describing the exact skills and qualities the hiring manager wants to find. Read the must-haves list and other details. Really take all of the information in.

Now, reflect on your experience. What have you done before that shows you can handle that Costco job? Gather together relevant examples (success stories) and know them inside and out. That way, you can talk about them with ease when the time comes (oh, and it will come).

MIKE'S TIP: Don’t have a great example from a past job? That’s okay. There are a ton of other options that work just as well. Volunteer positions, internships, group assignments at school, extracurricular clubs, and plenty of others are great alternatives. Just make sure the core message keeps the example relevant. If that’s true, then where it came from probably won’t matter.

Once you hone in on your skills and experience, it’s time to take your Costco interview to the next level. Without a doubt, you’re going to spend some time answering behavioral interview questions. You can’t get away with a simple “yes” or “no” here. These types of questions are going to be open-ended, so you’ll need much more than that.

Crafting a winning answer isn’t necessarily hard. You just need the right technique. Think of it this way, aren’t scary stories so much more fun with that flashlight under your chin? Thought so. The STAR method can be that flashlight. Let lets you add something special to your answers, making them engaging.

But you need to keep going. You need to make sure your responses are highly relevant, too. Just as scary stories about woodland monsters are more frightening when told by a campfire in the woods instead of in a living room, your interview answers are more powerful when they fit the situation. With the Tailoring Method, you personalize your responses based on the hiring manager’s needs. You’re customizing your approach for the biggest impact, and that’ll increase your odds of success.

Top 3 Costco Interview Questions

Deep dive into the job description? Check. Winning strategy for behavioral interview questions? Check. What else could you need? Why amazing examples, of course.

Even if you have the right techniques and hone your interview skills, it never hurts to see how you can put those tips to work. Here are the top three Costco interview questions and an example of how to answer each one.

1. If you are working on a high-priority task and a customer approaches you looking for help, what do you do?

Most Costco employees have a range of responsibilities. They might stock shelves, handle cleanup, give out samples, take inventory, work the cash register, and much more.

The trick with Costco is, the customer is always number one. Hiring managers ask questions like this to make sure they find candidates who understand that simple fact.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“If I was approached by a customer, I would immediately pause what I’m doing and give them my full attention. Ultimately, customer service always comes first, so I’m going to listen to their needs, above all else. Once I understand what they require, I’ll offer the appropriate kind of assistance, even if it takes me away from the high-priority task for a moment. After I have the customer squared away, I’ll return and give that activity my full attention once more.”

2. When there’s a lull in your day, what do you do?

While Costco is a fast-paced environment, that doesn’t mean there won’t be the occasional lull. Hiring managers favor self-motivated, passionate individuals who can remain productive at all times, even when they have their assigned tasks completed.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“A lull is the perfect time to handle routine work that needs to be covered. For example, in my previous role, when I was working in the apparel section, I would focus on tasks like refolding items, organizing clothing on racks, and otherwise ensuring the area was in tip-top shape. If there wasn’t something that could use attention, I would reach out to my supervisor or coworkers, letting them know that I am available to assist in any way that could be helpful.”

3. Tell me about a time on the job that now, looking back, you wish you’d handled your customer service responsibilities better. What would you do differently this time?

Customer service is a tricky thing, and no one handles the challenges perfectly every single time. With this question, the hiring manager is looking for a few things. First, they want to know if you’ll be honest and accountable. Being able to admit that you aren’t perfect is a good sign in their eyes, so keep that in mind.

Second, they want to know that you can learn from your mistakes and that you are self-aware. These are valuable traits, and this is a way for the hiring manager to figure out if you have them.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“In a previous role, I had an emotionally taxing day. When I was approached by a customer toward the end, I didn’t have the best attitude while assisting them. My responses may have been a bit curt and weren’t in line with my typical standard. I could tell the customer noticed and did try to adjust my attitude once I realized I wasn’t being my best. However, I learned from that experience. Today, I always take a beat before responding to a customer, and if I could go back, I’d use that technique now. Even a brief second allows me to check myself, ensuring I don’t let past frustrations to influence the new interaction. It only takes a moment but give me an opportunity to refocus, enabling me to offer the customer the best experience possible.”

30 More Costco Interview Questions

Here are 30 more Costco interview questions many prospective employees face:

      1. Why do you want to work at Costco?
      2. What do you know about Costco?
      3. Can you give me an example of when you demonstrated leadership on the job?
      4. Tell me about your experience with cash registers/meat cutters/other job-specific tools, or equipment?
      5. Describe a time when you had to work closely with a team to complete a project.
      6. How do you react to constructive criticism?
      7. What’s your definition of great customer service?
      8. Tell me about a time when you had to assist a difficult customer. How did you handle the situation?
      9. Can you and a coworker were in conflict? What was the issue? How did you address the situation?
      10. How would you define “a sense of urgency?”
      11. If you noticed a coworker was being lazy on the job, what would you do?
      12. How would you handle it if you saw a coworker stealing something worth $1?
      13. Describe a time when you went above and beyond purely in the name of customer service.
      14. Can you tell me about an incident where you made a mistake and had to face the fallout? What was the outcome?
      15. What do you think sets Costco apart from its competitors?
      16. If a customer became hostile, how would you handle the situation?
      17. Name one trait that you bring to the table that you think will be the biggest benefit to the team?
      18. When given two high-priority tasks, how do you decide where to start?
      19. If you were assisting a customer and a second customer approached as requested your help, what would you do?
      20. Are you at your best when working with a team or when working independently?
      21. What do you think is the most important responsibility of employees working in the [position] role?
      22. Describe a time when attention-to-detail was critical. How did you make sure that you remained focused and accurate?
      23. If a customer tried to make a return but wasn’t eligible to do so, how would you handle the interaction?
      24. What would you do if a customer didn’t have a membership card when they were checking out?
      25. Can you tell me about your availability?
      26. If you are asked to handle a task and don’t know how to proceed, what do you do?
      27. When counting out your till you realize it’s $0.56 short. What do you do?
      28. If a customer accused you of demonstrating bad customer service, how would you react?
      29. As a customer is checking out, you notice that an item is ringing up high. The customer doesn’t seem to have spotted the issue. What do you do?
      30. What would you do if a customer insisted on using manufacturer coupons (which are not accepted at Costco) during checkout?

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of a Costco Interview

When you’re wrapping up your Costco interview, you’ll typically have an opportunity to ask the hiring manager some questions. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the role and whether it’s right for you. On top of that it shows how interested you are in the position. Always make a point of asking a few questions! If you have no idea what you should ask, here are five that work for nearly all occasions:

      1. What is the most important part of this position’s responsibilities?
      2. How do you measure success in this role? What can the new hire do to exceed your expectations?
      3. Do your top performers have any traits in common? If so, what are they?
      4. What part of this job has the steepest learning curve? How can a new hire prepare to ensure they can reach full productivity quickly?
      5. What makes Costco an employer of choice in your eyes?

Putting It All Together

When push comes to shove, any Costco interview can be a bit nerve-racking. But, by using the tips above, you can arrive prepared.

You’re a great candidate; it’s true. All you have to do is show it. Shine bright like a light at the end of the tunnel. You could be the solution the hiring manager’s been waiting for, so take a deep breath and move forward with confidence.

As always, good luck!

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Check out our other articles in our Company Specific Interview Series:

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.