Top 11 Common Starbucks Interview Questions & Answers

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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Starbucks interview questions

Starbucks has been such a huge powerhouse for decades that no grand introduction is needed; everyone knows what types of coffees and services this famous brand offers!

Yet, despite this explosive popularity, the hiring process for Starbucks is surprisingly uncomplicated, provided that you know what exact qualities the hiring manager is looking for. 

Below are some of the most common Starbucks job interview questions, which my team has compiled over months of extensive research to help you prepare your interview performance with greater confidence. Let’s learn more below!

Top 11 Interview Questions for Starbucks

Starbucks looks for quick-witted, creative employees who can think on the spot, manage heavy workloads, and cooperate effectively with others. Your strong passion for the brand’s beverages and products will also be another huge bonus. 

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1. What Would You Do If A Customer Claimed Their Order Was Wrong?

Why this question? The interviewer wants to gauge your problem-solving skills, ability to handle customer complaints, and commitment to customer satisfaction while maintaining a positive brand image.

Example Answer: 

First, I would acknowledge their frustration and apologize for any inconvenience caused; I would actively listen to their explanation to ensure I understood the details of their order. Once I had a clear overview of the situation, I would immediately take steps to rectify the error. 

For instance, if the mistake were minor (such as an incorrect beverage size or a missing condiment), I would quickly prepare the correct item and present it to the customer with a sincere apology.

In case the order was severely wrong (for instance, the customer received the incorrect food item or an entirely different beverage), I would offer to remake the entire order at no additional cost. I would also provide them a complimentary drink or snack as a gesture of sincere apology.

Throughout the ordeal, I would maintain a calm and positive attitude to make my customers feel heard and valued. I would avoid making excuses or placing blame, as this could further escalate their anger. 

2. A Customer Took One Sip From Their Drink and Looked Visibly Unhappy, Yet He Did Not Approach You or Any Employee To Talk About It. How Would You Handle This Situation? 

Why this question? A skilled employee must be able to identify and address customer concerns at any time, even when they are not explicitly expressed.

Example Answer:

First, I would approach the customer with a friendly attitude, asking if they enjoyed their beverage. When they expressed dissatisfaction, I would actively listen, acknowledge their feedback, and then apologize for any inconvenience caused.

If necessary, I would offer to remake their drink without hesitation. Before preparing the new beverage, I would talk with my customer to understand their preferences better. 

Once the remade drink was finished, I would encourage them to provide feedback and ensure they were completely satisfied with the resolution.

3. Which Starbucks Drink Do You Like Best?

Why this question? Contrary to popular belief, your drink preference does not matter here. This question mainly assesses your knowledge and passion for Starbucks’ products, which helps guide customers toward the most suitable beverage choices.

Example Answer:

I would say that the Caramel Macchiato is one of my favorite Starbucks drinks. This delicious and versatile beverage can be enjoyed both hot or iced, and its combination of caramel drizzle, espresso, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup is sure to please a wide range of palates. Furthermore, this drink is easily customizable; I can add an extra espresso shot, switch to non-dairy milk, or skip the caramel drizzle altogether. 

Still, my preferences might change depending on the occasion or season. For instance, a latte or an Americano is a non-skip if I am in the mood for a caffeine kick. A sweet and creamy Frappuccino or blended drink works great as a post-meal beverage, while a refreshing and fruity Teavana or Refresher will be terrific on hot summer days.

4. Why Do You Want to Work At Starbucks?

Why this question? Starbucks prefers goal-driven employees genuinely passionate about Starbucks and its core values. Your answer should show them you are not just applying for any available job.

Example Answer:

Starbucks has always been a leading coffeehouse that can transform a simple cup of coffee into a transcendent experience. From the moment I step into a Starbucks store, I am enveloped by the aroma of freshly roasted beans, the warm buzz of conversations, and the inviting ambiance that has become synonymous with the brand.

I am also drawn to Starbucks’ commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainable practices, which aligns with my personal values. Knowing that my cup of coffee helps minimize environmental impact and support the coffee-growing communities surely adds a deeper layer of meaning to every sip.

Most importantly, Starbucks’ unwavering dedication to customer satisfaction is truly inspiring. The baristas’ genuine care for each customer who walks through their doors, their willingness to personalize each drink to perfection, and their ability to turn a mundane errand into a moment of connection – these are the qualities that set Starbucks apart and make it a place where I want to be.

5. What Would You Do to Deal With Rude Customers? 

Why this question? Employees should be able to maintain their composure under extreme pressure, effectively de-escalating the tension with a satisfactory resolution that reinforces Starbucks’ positive image. 

Sample Answer:

When faced with a rude customer, I would maintain a calm and professional demeanor to keep this stressful situation from escalating. I would actively listen to the customer’s concerns, acknowledge their frustration, and apologize for any inconvenience. This manner helps set a positive tone for future resolutions. 

Next, I would inquire about the details of their complaint to understand the reason behind their dissatisfaction and then offer suitable solutions to address their needs. 

For instance, if the customer were dissatisfied with their beverage, I would offer to remake it or provide a complimentary drink. But suppose the issue stemmed from a misunderstanding or miscommunication; then, I would take the time to explain the situation clearly and apologize for any errors.

I would not respond to the customer’s aggressive behavior or personal attacks throughout the interaction. If the situation became too intense, or I felt unable to resolve it by myself, I would seek help from my supervisor or manager. 

6. Have You Ever Made A Grave Mistake? What Did You Do to Fix It?

Why this question? Candidates who can learn from their mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, and demonstrate great problem-solving skills will adapt well to Starbucks’ work culture in the long run.

Example Answer:

Once, as a barista at a local coffee shop,  I was preparing a hot latte for a customer who had requested soy milk as an allergy substitute. However, I mistakenly used regular milk instead, unaware of the severity of their allergy.

Fortunately, one of my team members noticed the error at the last minute and alerted me. I profusely apologized to the customer and then prepared a new latte using soy milk. After the incident, I told the manager about it and thoroughly reviewed the store’s allergy protocols to keep myself from repeating similar mistakes in the future.

7. What Would You Say To The Customer If An Ingredient or Product Were Run Out?

Why this question? Like other situational questions, this one expects your ability to handle customer disappointment, communicate effectively, and provide alternative solutions. 

Example Answer: 

Like always, I would first apologize sincerely for the trouble, then politely explain the reason for the shortage and offer alternative options that meet similar preferences. 

For instance, if the customer ordered a beverage requiring a specific type of syrup (currently unavailable), I would suggest a similar beverage with a different flavor profile. I would also inform them of the expected restocking time for the ingredients or products they purchased.

8. Can You Work During Nights, Early Mornings, Weekends, or Holidays?

Why this question? Though not considered a strict requirement, your availability and flexibility to meet the demands of Starbucks’ peak/busy hours will increase your chances of getting hired.

Example Answer:

Yes, I am available to work during any shift needed, including nights, early mornings, weekends, and holidays, as Starbucks is often the busiest during these periods. I believe I can be a reliable employee willing to go the extra mile to assist customers and contribute to the store’s success.

9. You Saw Your Coworker Take $1 Off The Register and Place It In His Pocket. How Would You Handle The Situation? 

Why this question? Honest employees with a strong sense of ethics are always welcomed in the service industry; Starbucks is no exception.

Example Answer:

I understand this might be a serious offense that has detrimental consequences for both my coworker and the company. I would first confront them privately to express my concern and remind them of Starbucks’ policy. 

If they deny any wrongdoing, I would tell my coworker I believed them. However, I would still suggest both of us report the incident to our supervisor/manager to ensure transparency. I would describe my observations to the supervisor in detail and stay open to further investigations – if there were any. 

10. The Customer Queue Started to Become Longer. What Would You Do If You Were The Only One In Charge?

Why this question? It is difficult to perform well during peak hours if you lose your calm under pressure or struggle to manage heavy workloads. 

Example Answer:

Firstly, I would acknowledge the customers waiting in line, apologize for any inconvenience, and assure them that their orders would be taken promptly.

Then, I would quickly assess the situation to identify and prioritize the most urgent orders accordingly. I would also assign tasks to any available team members, such as asking them to prepare beverages or handle cash transactions.

To speed up the order-taking process, I would use clear and concise communication to eliminate any ambiguities. Furthermore, I might leverage technology to my advantage (if allowed), like mobile ordering systems or self-service kiosks, to reduce wait times.

11. How Is Your Teamwork Skill?

Why this question? As a Starbucks employee, you must work harmoniously with your team to contribute to a positive working environment and achieve shared goals.

Example Answer:

I believe my teamwork skill is one of my strongest attributes. 

I am a highly collaborative person who thrives in team environments and will go the extra mile to contribute to the group’s success. As an effective communicator, I always listen actively, share ideas clearly, and work constructively with others to resolve conflicts and achieve our shared goals.

How to Prepare for A Starbucks Interview?

Prepare for An Interview

I’ve worked with many Starbucks managers, and they suggest that you should drop by a local Starbucks store to observe how the managers, employees, and baristas manage their daily duties. That way, you can reaffirm whether you are a good fit for this job position. 

And, of course, do not forget to review other relevant information before the interview, such as the brand’s initiative, mission statement, and work culture.

What To Wear for An Interview At Starbucks?

The outfit formality depends on the job position you apply for.

For instance, a basic blouse and colored slacks will do for a barista interview process. But, if you seek a managerial position, dressing up a bit more is highly recommended: consider formal blouses or pencil skirts (if you are a woman) or ties (for men). Full business suits are unnecessary unless it is a corporate job.

Like other fast-paced environments in the food industry, Starbucks prioritizes cleanliness; ensure your nails are trimmed, and your clothes are stain- and wrinkle-free. For those with long hair, I suggest tying it back.

What Else Should You Bring To A Starbucks Interview?

Nothing different from a typical interview; Starbucks only requires a copy of your resume and cover letter, along with a list of references who can attest to your skills and work ethic. A notepad and pen will be useful for taking notes or jotting down any questions you may have for the hiring manager.

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Though prior experience is not always required, most Starbucks positions are open to well-adapting employees who are responsible, dedicated, passionate about Starbucks’ drinks, and willing to learn from their mistakes. 

Apply now if you believe you possess these qualities, and refer to my answer templates above to deliver the best performance!

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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