Leave With a Job: Here’s What to Expect at a Seasonal In-Store Hiring Event

A woman applies lipgloss while waiting to be interviewed for a job at Best Buy.
Milagros Figueroa applies lip gloss as she waits to be interviewed during Best Buy's national holiday hiring fair in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

When Milagros Figueroa walked into her local Best Buy Wednesday morning, she wasn’t interested in a new TV or laptop. She was looking for a job.

While shopping at the store the night before, she learned about the retail chain’s nationwide seasonal hiring event. That same evening, she opened the browser on her smartphone and filled out an application on the company’s careers page. The next morning, while applying some last-minute lip gloss and compact before her interview, she was excited about the possibilities that might come from getting the job.

“They can keep you [after the holidays] and maybe lead to permanent work,” says Figueroa, 34, of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Figueroa is one of the tens of thousands of people looking for seasonal employment this holiday season. This month, retail stores, fulfillment centers and package delivery companies are hosting in-store hiring events. While each company varies slightly in how it conducts these seasonal hiring events, we spoke to two retailers that offered tips on what to expect and how to prepare for one.

What’s It Like at an In-Store Hiring Event?

A Best Buy female employee greets customers as they enter the store.
Best Buy employee Alexandra Mariona greets customers as they enter the store. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

When you arrive, look for check-in tables, or ask a store employee where the hiring event will take place. Once signed in, you’ll wait for your turn to be interviewed. Nicole Salzman, the market trainer for Old Navy in Manhattan, said in an email that candidates participate in group interviews of five to 10 people and that each session takes 30 minutes.

Justus Walker, a sales manager at Best Buy in St. Petersburg, Florida, says if the person walking in has not already applied online, a store associate will do a quick assessment, asking questions to find out if they could be a good fit for one of the roles available in the store. After that, they will sit down for a one-on-one interview with a manager that will last between 15 and 20 minutes. If all goes well, the next step is to meet with the general manager for the final decision.

What Should I Wear?

It’s never a bad idea to wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable.

“One tip is to be mindful of the brand you’re interviewing with and tailor your look,” Salzman says. While fashion retailers like Old Navy appreciate dressing in a way that expresses your personality, you can never go wrong with business casual. Walker adds, “I think it speaks to personal brand and character.”

Should I Bring a Resume?

Before attending an in-store hiring event, check to see if you need to fill out an online application. Old Navy requested applicants complete a digital form before arriving at the store. Best Buy encouraged people to fill out an application online prior to the hiring event, but computers off the main sales floor are available to complete the application in private.

“We do not require candidates applying for store associate roles to bring a resume, but if they have one, it never hurts to bring it,” Salzman says.

Do I Need Any Identification Paperwork?

According to Walker and Salzman, you don’t need to bring any personal identification, like a social security card, with you to the event. Once an employment offer is made, you’ll be asked to bring the proper paperwork to orientation.

What Kind of Questions Can I Expect During the Interview?

A man holds a clipboard as he asks a woman with brown hair question before her official interview at Best Buy.
Justus Walker asks Milagros Figueroa preliminary questions prior to her official interview at Best Buy. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Leading up to Figueroa’s initial interview, Walker, who checked her in, provided some quick coaching on what kinds of questions the manager would ask. He advised her to show passion for the job when answering questions.

Salzman says you can probably expect questions on how you’ve overcome adversity, shown initiative or adapted to change. “Get ready to tell focused, specific stories from your past that bring those moments to life that shows beyond the words on your resume,” she says.

Walker and Salzman encourage candidates to research the company before the event. “Any time a candidate can talk about the company beyond ‘I like your clothes! I’ve been buying them since I was a kid,’ we’re super impressed,” she says.

And as cliche as it sounds — be yourself. Walker says some people come to these events trying to mold themselves to fit a position in a way that’s not naturally how they are.

“A lot of times the questions that we ask kind of dig a little deeper to find more,” he says. “So be honest with the questions that you’re answering and give some real examples.”

Will I Find Out On-the-Spot if I Got the Job?

You’ll probably find out quickly if you landed the seasonal gig, say Salzman and Walker.

“For the hiring event, it’s day-of,” Best Buy’s Walker says. “Usually for other positions [posted throughout the year], it depends on how long it was open because multiple candidates are applying for that one role.”

At a hiring event, you’ll be one of many people applying for several open positions, so the odds of walking out with a new seasonal job are ever in your favor.

Matt Reinstetle is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He writes about career advice and side gigs. You can find him on Twitter @MattReinstetle.