How to Get a Job at Trader Joe’s: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Trader Joe’s is a popular grocery store known for its unique products, friendly atmosphere, and healthy work environment.

It’s no surprise that jobs at Trader Joe’s are highly sought after. However, with a little preparation and the right approach, you can increase your chances of getting hired. Since Trader Joe’s sells products to people, not just scanning items, they want someone who can be pleasant, friendly, and outgoing. And that’s what they look for in employees.

In this article, we explore and give tips on getting hired at Trader Joe’s, the hiring process, including the application and interviews, and give hints on what to do in each step to ensure you get the job.

How to Get Hired at Trader Joe’s?

Trader Joe's sign entrance

Here are some of the important steps you can take to get hired at Trader Joe’s:

  • Network with current employees
  • Visit and Introduce yourself outside of peak hours
  • Show an outgoing, pleasant, and friendly attitude.
  • Increase availability and have a flexible schedule
  • Ask about the store’s needs for new employee hours.
  • Showcase skills, values, and personality.

One of the best ways to improve your chances is to get to know current employees at your local store. Ask them about their experiences working at Trader Joe’s and learn more about the company’s culture and values. This will give you a better understanding of what they’re looking for in a candidate and how you can align yourself with those values.

It can be helpful to visit the store around 1-3 pm when many employees have schedules overlapping for shift change. This way, you can be noticed and remembered when they start hiring again.

Make a point of noting down names and details of staff you interact with. During your interview, mention these positive interactions to show you’ve already been immersing yourself in the Trader Joe’s community.

Trader Joe’s values individuals who can provide excellent customer service, so it’s important to show that you’re outgoing, pleasant, and friendly. They want employees who can interact positively with customers and fit into their positive and friendly working environment.

To increase your chances of getting hired, you should try going into the store and introducing yourself to mates. Make sure to make a personal interaction with whoever you’re speaking with.

Trader Joe’s gets a lot of applications each month, and they like to put a name to the face and see if you are personable. So make sure you show them that you’re interested in them as people.

Also, make sure to increase your availability on your application and have an open and flexible schedule. It can also be helpful to call the store and ask what their needs are for new employees’ hours.

Following these tips and showcasing your skills, values, and personality can increase your chances of getting hired at Trader Joe’s.

How to check if Trader Joe’s is hiring?

There are three ways to find out:

Not every application is reviewed, but they do hire all the time. Applications are typically only reviewed and responded to during the hiring process. Still, you can always apply for a mate or crew position; the only difference will be when they get back to you.

How Hard Is It to Get a Job at Trader Joe’s?

Securing a job at Trader Joe’s can be competitive, as they have a thorough hiring process to ensure they find the best fit for their positive and friendly culture. However, don’t let this discourage you.

To stand out in the hiring process, aligning yourself with the company’s values and culture is important. Show that you’re a good fit for their positive work environment by being genuine, personable, and friendly during the interview process.

Trader Joe’s values authenticity and genuineness and are looking for individuals who can provide excellent customer service, regardless of your personality type or physical appearance. Let your unique personality shine through and demonstrate your ability to connect with customers. By doing so, you increase your chances of getting hired.

What Is Trader Joe’s Hiring Process?

Trader Joe’s hiring process consists of the following:

Similar to the Costco hiring process, Trader Joe’s process starts with applying online at their site, after which you’ll be immediately notified by email.

Then you’ll be called to set up an interview, or you can do that yourself after you get your email based on your application. After that comes the interview process of several interviews, first with mates, then with the captain. The interview process may involve interviews with various store managers as well.

Finally, you have orientation and a few weeks of training by shadowing a skillful crew member to learn how to do the job.

Trader Joe’s Application Process

The application process begins by applying online at their website, after which you’ll immediately receive an email from them.

Act quickly upon receiving that email. Responding promptly, ideally within 24 hours, indicates enthusiasm and could set you apart from candidates who delay their reply. Even in the digital age, speed and eagerness can leave a strong impression.

You’ll also have a number in that email that you can call to set up your first interview, or you can wait for them to call you back.

Trader Joe’s applications are always reviewed, no matter if the store is currently hiring. The only difference in applying outside of the hiring event is the time they get back to you. One of the most important Trader Joe’s job application tips is to have open availability, which increases your chances of getting hired and getting the most shifts once you get hired.

Should you apply to Trader Joe’s with a resume and cover letter?

It’s not required but is highly recommended, especially for a mate position. They need your resume to ensure you have proper skills and positive experiences in customer service, and you should write a cover letter to emphasize those positive customer experiences.

It’s also a good idea to take your resume into the store and ask for the manager (they wear Hawaiian shirts). Be friendly, say hi, and give them your resume. Strike up a conversation, and they may do a mini-interview with you. Try to be genuine and personable.

How long does it take to hear back from Trader Joe’s after applying?

If the store is hiring, you should typically hear within a few days to schedule an interview. If the store isn’t hiring, you should hear back within a few weeks or months. If you haven’t heard from them in a week, you can call to check.

Trader Joe’s Interview Process

Typically, Trader Joe’s does 2 to 3 interviews. The first two are usually with mates (store managers), and the last is with the captain. Having more than three interviews is not unheard of, but this is rare.

The interview process may vary depending on the location but typically includes a combination of group interviews and one-on-one interviews.

During the interview, the interviewer will likely ask questions about your customer service experience, availability, and ability to work in a fast-paced environment. They will also ask questions to assess your personality and how well you will fit in with their company culture. It’s important to come prepared with examples of how you can align with their values and culture.

You can try your luck at Walmart if two interviews are too much. They may not even have an interview over there.

How do you prepare for a Trader Joe’s interview?

The best advice is to remember that they are looking for someone with a personality who can be pleasant and friendly to the customers. They’re looking for people who love TJ’s products and are enthusiastic about selling them. Present yourself as such a person.

A few things to remember:

  • Research the company, its values and culture, mission statement, and products
  • Practice answering common interview questions
  • Be open, honest, and enthusiastic about Trader Joe’s and its products.
  • Show evidence that you’re able to create meaningful relationships with customers. Have a story ready about how you did that in your previous jobs.
  • Be as personable as you can. Be nice and friendly. They want someone kind and can say ‘hello’ to the customers.
  • If you’re leaving a job to work at Trader Joe’s, prepare to explain that in advance.

Trader Joe’s interview questions

Trader Joe’s interview process typically includes multiple interviews with store managers or team leaders. During the interview, the interviewer may ask a combination of behavioral and situational questions to evaluate your qualifications and fit for the company. Here are some examples of common Trader Joe’s interview questions:

  1. Can you tell me about yourself?

You should answer this regarding your job and your education. Mention proven success relevant to customer service using the STAR method, focus on your strengths, and highlight your personality.

  1. Why do you want to work here?

Before you answer this, learn about Trader Joe’s and then list things you like about the job position which you can relate to your skills and personality. You can say that you like helping people or working in a team, that you’re a friendly person and that you’ll fit in their culture and healthy work environment. Here are a few examples of how to answer this question.

  1. Why do we need to hire you?

You should study the job posting for this question and then tie your background to the job. You can say that your experience, skills, and personality make you a great fit for this job because you’re friendly, have a relatable experience with customer service (tell a story), and you like working with customers.

  1. Have you ever had to deal with a difficult customer?

They’re looking to hear a story about how you dealt with an annoyed or angry customer and successfully solved the problem. You can learn how to answer these questions using the STAR method.

  1. What are your weaknesses?

Choose a weakness that won’t prevent you from succeeding in that job. Be honest, and tell them a weakness you’re currently improving, such as providing constructive criticism or asking for help.

A few other TJ’s interview questions include:

  • How do you handle working in a fast-paced environment?
  • How do you prioritize and manage your tasks in a busy environment?
  • Can you give an example of a time when you had to think on your feet and solve a problem quickly?
  • How do you handle multitasking and being able to work in a team?
  • How do you align with our company culture and values?
  • How do you handle working with diverse groups of people?
  • Can you tell me when you had to handle a stressful situation?

It’s important to come prepared to the interview with specific examples and experiences that demonstrate how you align with Trader Joe’s values and culture, and how you can excel in the role.

During the 2nd interview, they’ll try to get a sense of the type of person you are with questions such as:

  • What didn’t you like about your last job?
  • What is your favorite product at Trader Joe’s?
  • What motivates you?

Remember, Trader Joe’s values genuine individuals who can provide excellent customer service. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to getting the job.

Learn how to answer these questions by checking the video below:

How long for Trader Joe’s to call back after the 1st interview?

Typically, you’ll hear back only 2-3 business days after the 1st interview, but this can sometimes be as long as a week. It will depend on the store and its onboarding process. You may even be asked to stay after the first interview and do the 2nd one, but this is rare.

What is 2nd interview like?

During the second interview, the interviewer may delve deeper into your qualifications and fit for the company. They will likely ask more specific and behavioral questions to evaluate your skills and experiences, and to understand how you align with Trader Joe’s values and culture.

The 2nd interview at Trader Joe’s will typically go a bit more in-depth, with questions about your qualities and personality. You’ll probably be interviewed with two mates if it’s a crew position.

The second interview may also include a situational or scenario-based questions, where the interviewer will ask you how you would handle a specific situation or problem. This is to evaluate your problem-solving skills and ability to handle challenging situations.

The second interview may also include an in-store assessment, where you will be asked to perform a task or role-play scenario to evaluate your skills and abilities in a real-life setting.

It’s important to come prepared with specific examples and experiences that demonstrate your skills, and to be able to effectively communicate your qualifications and how you can be an asset to the company.

How long to hear back after the 2nd Trader Joe’s Interview?

Since the 3rd interview is with the captain, the time to hear back from the 2nd interview will depend on how busy the captain is, but it’s usually under a week. If they don’t get back to you within a week, you should call them for an update.

What’s Trader Joe’s 3rd interview like?

The 3rd interview is typically the last step in the hiring process and it indicates that you’re being considered for the job. Typically, getting to a third interview indicates that you’re being hired.

This is typically the last interview with the captain by the recommendation from the mates, and all you have to do is continue to give them confirmation that you’re the right person for the job.

During the 3rd interview, you might get a few more natural questions from the captain. They value going above and beyond for customers, so try and prepare a story about helping a customer from your previous experiences.

Most Trader Joe’s captains want to hear about your work ethic and how you handle mistakes, feedback, and criticisms. They want to ensure you can keep a positive attitude and have the endurance to do all the physical labor.

It’s also important to note that in some cases, a 3rd interview is not a guarantee of a job offer, as the hiring process varies from store to store and from region to region. The captain may also make a recommendation to the headquarter regarding the hire.

What Is Orientation Like and How Long Does It Last?

Orientation at Trader Joe’s varies from store to store but generally includes watching videos, doing the paperwork, talking to the captain, and then talking to a mate. You’ll probably be introduced to fellow crew around the store. It lasts about 3 hours.

What Is Training Like and What to Keep In Mind?

Training is hands-on as a crew member at a Trader Joe’s store. You’ll first watch a few videos and then shadow an experienced crew member for 2-3 weeks to learn how to do your job in all aspects of the store.

This is a great opportunity to learn about how things are done at Trader Joe’s, so make sure to ask questions and pay attention. Nothing’s too difficult, just don’t forget that they hired you for personality, so try to be nice and smile when you can. Good luck!


How Long Does It Take Trader Joe’s to Hire You?

Your entire hiring process at Trader Joe’s should last about one to two weeks. There are rare occasions with only two interviews, sometimes on the same day, but you’ll usually need to pass several interviews over a week or two.

How to check the status of your Trader Joe’s application?

You can check the status of your Trader Joe’s application online by going into the ‘My Application’ section on their website. If it says ‘under review,’ you’ll be contacted soon regarding the next step.

What does “future consideration” mean at Trader Joe’s?

The ‘future consideration’ usually means that you’re potentially hireable, but they don’t have a job for you now, or you’re not a good fit.

What should you wear to Trader Joe’s interview?

Try wearing jeans, closed-toe shoes, and a nice shirt. Something professional but casual. Do not wear a tropical shirt. That’s for managers of the store to distinguish themselves.

What do you wear to Trader Joe’s orientation?

You can wear whatever shirt you want, as it doesn’t matter because you’ll be given a crew shirt during your orientation. However, wear comfortable shoes, such as your running shoes.

Credits: Image by Mike Mozart, under CC BY 2.0

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