In today’s market, getting a job is harder than ever before. Where working in a supermarket might have been considered ‘an easy career’ a few years ago, large chain supermarkets such as Waitrose, Tesco and Asda will now test their applicants to their very limits. In this blog, we’ll examine what it takes to pass the UK Supermarket Recruitment Process. This is the ultimate guide to the selection process for supermarket jobs, including Tesco jobs AND Asda Jobs!
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What is it like to work in a UK supermarket?
Luckily for candidates, while it is tougher to get a job in a UK supermarket, there are also an incredible number of jobs available. These jobs would not have been available 10 or even 5 years ago. This means that there is huge variety in working for a supermarket, and employees are rarely limited to just one role. If you are based on the shop floor, you can expect to be moved around between a range of different positions. For example, one day you might be working on checkout, another you might be working stacking shelves and another you might be on the customer service desk, taking orders for deliveries or answering the phone. On some days, you’ll do any combination of 1, 2 or 3 of these things, and more! Tesco jobs and Asda jobs in particular will provide you with a huge range of challenges, and opportunities for progression.
To add to this, this only extends to those working on the shop floor. Supermarkets also actively recruit for people to work behind the scenes, for example in admin, management, branding and advertising. Working in a supermarket does not mean that you will be stacking shelves everyday all day. It’s a varied role which can lead to fantastic opportunities.
The first step to working in a UK supermarket is usually to fill in the online application form. Here you will need to give personal details about yourself, your background and work experience, and answer a number of competency based questions. Your answers to these questions should be based around the core competencies of the supermarket. These are usually as follows:
- Teamwork. Teamwork is a fundamental quality for any supermarket employee to have. It is extremely rare that you’ll be working solo in a supermarket, and if you are then you will be still be a part of the wider team. The better that employees can work together, the better the supermarket will function.
- Customer Service. Good customer service is another fundamental quality that any aspiring supermarket jobs candidate must have. Some people would argue that this is the most important quality, as customers are essential for any supermarket to survive.
- Commercial awareness. This also extends to ‘common sense’. While supermarkets will not expect their employees to have an understanding of business, they will expect them to exhibit common sense when dealing with customers. They need to understand how to promote the brand, and upsell products and deals when required. This is a key element to supermarket jobs success.
- Ambition. Ambition is very important for supermarket employees, as the company itself wants to see its employees grow and take a genuine interest in the business. When you start out on the supermarket floor, you might well be stocking shelves, but with a bit of initiative you can swiftly rise within the company, to a management position or beyond. Supermarkets are trying to shake the image of their employees being stuck in a dead end job, and are making more of an effort to show that supermarket jobs lead to a fantastic career.
The competency based supermarket jobs questions will test your knowledge of the above, and ask you to give examples of when you have demonstrated these previously. You will need to give a structured response to these questions, outlining exactly how you behaved in that situation. Examples of competency based questions include:
- Tell us about a time when you have worked as part of a team to successfully resolve an issue.
- Tell us about a time when you have demonstrated great customer service.
- Using a personal example, explain why ambition is important for our employees.
Supermarket Jobs: Online Tests
Following the submission of your application form, the next step will usually be an online test. This depends largely on the supermarket that you are applying for, and not all supermarkets will use this. However, online tests are becoming more and more popular with supermarkets, who wish to weed out unsuitable candidates early on, and learn more about those who are suitable for the role. So, what kind of online tests will you take? One of the most popular types of test is a Situational Judgement Personality Questionnaire (SJPQ). This test will ask you a series of questions based around what you would do in a particular situation, with the results being used as an indicator of your personality. There are generally no right or wrong answers in this test, and you should always aim to answer as honestly as possible. The assessors will then study your results and make a decision on whether your personality is suitable to work within their organisation. You may also be asked to take a Numerical Reasoning Test, and a Verbal Reasoning test. For advice on how to pass these, check out our Numerical Reasoning Guide, and our Verbal Reasoning Guide. Remember that Tesco jobs are hard to come by, so you need to practice as much as you can!
A typical SJPQ question might be similar to the following:
You are working on the customer service desk when an angry customer approaches. She is holding the hand of her 4 year old son. She tells you that one of the shop assistants shouted at her son for misbehaving, and that he is very upset. After you have finished listening to the woman’s side of the story, her son throws his sticky lollipop at you, which gets tangled in your hair. The woman does not seem bothered. How would you deal with this?
A – Tell the woman in no uncertain terms that she needs to control her child, and that she should think twice about bringing him into this supermarket again.
B – Tell the woman that you will inform the store manager about your colleague’s behaviour.
C – Apologise, and offer the child a replacement lollipop.
D – Apologise for your colleague’s behaviour, but tell the woman that she should not allow her son to misbehave whilst on the premises.
E – Shout at the boy, and demand that he apologises for throwing his lollipop at you. Throw the lollipop back.
Supermarket Assessment Centre
In the last few years, several of the bigger supermarkets have started to use assessment centres as a way of dealing with the high number of applicants that they are receiving. Therefore, there is a good chance that after taking the online tests, you might be invited to attend one. In some cases, you may move straight onto the interview, but it is important to be prepared for whatever you will face.
At the assessment centre, there are a range of different tests that you will face. It is likely that these tests will be closely focused around tasks that are related to working in a supermarket. One such example is the group exercises. Let’s take a closer look at these:
Supermarket Assessment Centre Group Exercise
As we mentioned earlier, teamwork is fundamental for any supermarket employee. Whether you are working on the shop floor or in admin, you’ll be part of a wider team/group that is responsible for ensuring customer satisfaction. Therefore, it’s really important that the assessors can witness first-hand how well you work in a team. There are a whole range of activities that you can do for the group exercises, including:
- Giving a group presentation on an assigned topic.
- Building a tower out of plastic blocks.
- Making a decision of a particular proposal or plan.
The most important things to remember during the group exercise are that you put yourself across as a capable and reasonable communicator, who has great common sense and cares about the goals of the team. Never get angry or show frustration with your colleagues during this task, it’s all about patience and building an understanding.
Supermarket Assessment Centre Interview
Following the exercises, it will be time to take the interview. This will be held with a manager of the store, and usually takes around half an hour to complete. The questions will take two forms:
Section 1. 15 minutes of questions based around your knowledge of the organisation. This section is extremely important, as the supermarket needs to know that you have conducted detailed research into them. Too many candidates skip preparing for this section, and are left in the lurch when they end up being asked questions about things they know nothing about. The questions could include:
- What do you know about our organisation?
- What do you know about our goals and achievements?
- What is it specifically that makes you want to work for this organisation?
- What do you know about our plans for the future?
Section 2. 15 minutes of questions based around how well you know the core competencies of the organisation. This is similar to the competency based questions on the application form, except here you will be under more pressure and will have less time to answer/will have to actually voice your answers. Before you attend the assessment centre, make sure that you know the company competencies off by heart, and have prepared at least 1 answer for every single one of them. A failure to do so will significantly damage your chances of gaining a place amongst the supermarket jobs elite. You can apply for Tesco jobs on the official website.