Powell's Books Reviews

22 Reviews
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Emily Powell
6 Ratings
  • Comfortable but increasingly corporate

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Bookseller in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Bookseller in Portland, OR

    I have been working at Powell's Books

    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO


    There are a lot of great things about working for Powell's. The union is very strong and active and works tirelessly for all employees, including part-time and occasional employees who often don't have a voice in other companies. All employees receive paid time off, sick time and everyone has a bank of unscheduled absences. You're allowed lunches of 30-59 minutes, and you can easily schedule a long lunch if you need to. I work part-time by choice, but if you are a part-time employee and you're good at your job, your chances of moving into a full-time position are decent. Just keep up the good work and make sure to get noticed for your diligence. There are scheduled raises and your job rank moves up as you gain more experience. The internal job postings are also really useful if you want to move around within the company or if you get tired of your current department or duties in the company.

    The pay is low for starting positions, but still much better than most retail positions. The discounts are great and they allow employees to check books out (like a library). Plus you get all the Advance Readers you want.


    There is some really awkward and disheartening bureaucracy that can make certain aspects of working at Powell's kind of strange and burdensome. The constant battles between the union and the company make you feel like a child watching your parents fight, and it often seems like the company itself cares less and less about the employees who work there and make money for them. But the union works hard for you, so you still feel like you're in good hands. Scheduling can be weird, and there isn't much in terms of merit-based rewards.

    While I did mention that there is a lot of opportunity to move around in the company, most of these are lateral career moves. There isn't much room to grow within the company, so if you are ambitious, you will quickly feel restless. You won't make a great living at Powell's, but it's a strong, stable stomping ground where you will get some good experience.

    Advice to Management

    Make sure to empower new employees and low-level staff, because they often get discouraged when they're overlooked by management. Don't be so critical and make sure to invest in your staff. Hire more full-time staff and stop relying on disposable, temporary and part-time staff.

Powell's Books Interviews

Interview Experience

Interview Experience


Getting an Interview

Getting an Interview


Interview Difficulty


Interview Difficulty




    No Offer
    No Offer


    I applied online – interviewed at Powell's Books.


    Got called in for a group interview after applying online. They were really nice and went out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable. The process took a little over an hour.

    Interview Questions

    • Nothing unexpected. They asked us to tell a story about a time when we received great customer service.   Answer Question

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Additional Info

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Website www.powells.com
Headquarters Portland, OR
Size 150 to 499 Employees
Founded 1981
Type Company - Private
Industry Retail
Revenue $25 to $50 million (USD) per year

Powell's may not be the big dog when it comes to books, but its dog-eared volumes keep it near the front of the pack. The book retailer maintains more than a handful of stores in the Portland, Oregon, area including its flagship City of Books store, which covers a city block and contains more than 1 million volumes. It sells new, used, out-of-print, and rare books; it even sells books that are returned to online bookseller Amazon.com. The company operates specialty stores for cookbooks and gardening, technical books, and travel books; it also features author readings and... More

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