If you thought a cashier only handles the cash register, this interview will be an eye opener. This college student with a heart of gold shares his experience working as a cashier.
What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
I worked as a cashier in the retail industry for a little over a year prior to starting a job online. I was good at my job and loved the work that I did. I just had to leave the business because certain classes in college prevented me from having the scheduling availability that my store manager wanted.
Would you describe the things you do on a typical day?
A typical day of work as a cashier would start with a brief discussion with my manager about the work I was expected to do for the day. Sometimes this would consist of the manager telling me what register I was working at and nothing more. Other times I would learn about another department that I was going to help for part of the day, or a project at the front that I was going to be in charge of. The days that I spent in other departments were usually right after large shipments, where my manager would need help getting as much merchandise to the sales floor as possible. The projects at the front were typically displays that I would be organizing or new promotional items that I would be putting up in place of old ones.
I almost always closed the store, which meant I was the last cashier there at the end of the day. Apart from checking out people at the register, this meant that I was in charge of cleaning the store at the end of the day and making sure everything was in place for the opening cashier the next morning. My day would end with my manager counting my drawer and me tidying up all of the displays in the front area to make sure they looked good for the morning. If I had spare time, I would help other people put up returns in their departments so we could all leave the store more quickly.
Do you speak any language other than English? If so, how has it helped you in your job?
I speak a little bit of German aside from English, and it has actually helped me in my work. I was in one of the departments of the store once and I overheard a woman speaking German to another woman, trying to find something in the store. I mentioned that I couldn't help but overhear what they had to say and I offered to help them find what they were looking for. The women were very grateful, and I felt proud knowing my linguistic education had helped someone else.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?
On a scale of one to ten, I would probably rate my job satisfaction as a cashier at about a five. While I loved the work and the chances to meet new people, the pay for the job was terrible. I would have needed to see a substantial pay increase to improve that rating.
What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
I think that all students in school should be taught how to actively apply for jobs in their area and how to go about finding jobs in the first place. I haphazardly applied for the cashier job that I got, and it just so happened that it worked out. I really didn't have a clue what I was doing though.
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I loved the store that I worked as a cashier in, and I happened to hear the manager saying something about needing a new cashier. I told him I wanted to apply and he gave me an application. I turned it in a few minutes later and he offered me an interview for the next day. The start of my career was as simple as that, and I wouldn't change a thing about it.
What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
I had a man bring a huge cart full of picture frames to my checkout line, he then claimed he left his wallet in the car and then never came back for his things. I waited for a long time before cancelling the ticket, but he just disappeared.
On a good day when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
The best feeling I got from the job would come from a satisfied customer who genuinely appreciated the work I did.
When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
The bad days on the job usually involved customer complaints. I was a cashier, so I was right in the line of fire for them. I would usually call a manager up to the front if a customer got out of hand, and then he or she would take care of it accordingly.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
I wouldn't call the work I did "stressful" unless I was the only one working the registers at a given time. Then I just had to deal with angry, impatient customers all staring down at me. I was able to leave all of that at work every day though.
What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
I was paid minimum wage for the work I did, which was about $6.50 an hour at the time in my area. I think it is fair pay for minimal work, but considering the amount of side work I did for the store, I think I deserved much more.
What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
My favorite and most rewarding moment as a cashier came in the form of a coupon. I printed off a 40% coupon for the store that I wanted to use for an item myself. That was more than my employee discount, and I had a big ticket item I needed to buy. There was a woman that came through my line and had to buy a very expensive craft kit for her daughter to use at school and I could tell she was a single mom struggling to make ends meet. After seeing her shock at the total for her daughter's craft kit, I used my coupon on her order to drastically drop the total. She cried – literally –and thanked me for all of my help. I'll never forget the joy I felt helping her out like that.
What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?
The most challenging experience I had was when a person blatantly tried to return an item with a fake receipt for money. I had to try to tell my manager about the fraud without making it obvious that I knew about it. It was a scary situation, but it just came with the job.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
I didn't need a particular degree for the job. It was an entry level position – no special skills needed.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
If a friend of mine wanted to work as a cashier, I would tell him or her that it makes a good side job but nothing to be proud of full-time. The pay is not high enough for that.
Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
I think the main misunderstanding I want to correct about cashiers is that they don't do anything except run a register. I ran around the store like a mad man most of the time I worked, and I know I was not alone.
Does this job move your heart? If not, what does?
The job moves my heart when I get to see people find what they need. That is all the satisfaction I need from a job.
This is a true career story as told to JustJobs Academy, where you'll find other interviews with professionals working in the retail industry.
By: Gaby Reyna