I worked at Powell's Books full-time (More than a year)
Extensive, inspiring training that empowers employees to talk up books, connect with customers, and recommend titles without pressure to upsell or adhere to strict policy. Difficult, escalating, odangerous situations can get handed off to managers. Ok communication from upper level to staff, all around great bunch of people working at the store, and management trusts you to make the right decision. Consistent schedules. If you work hard and have a great attitude you can move up in the company easily. Discount on merchandise, huge discount on used books, education benefit, free streetcar, book borrowing privileges, bragging rights. Benefits were substantial.
Retail, with all the bells and whistles. Don't let the "indie" fool you - you'll work an open (mostly empty) store on Christmas Day. Management is for the most part very human and understanding, but make one wrong move at the wrong time (on camera at all times) and you could be out of your job - great attitude or not. Low pay rate won't get you far in Portland.
Advice to Management
"Simba, Remember who you are." Powell's is not a big box store and never should be. Keep rewarding the employees who love working there, and promoting opportunities to move up, but don't let the mopey loafers stick around. It's bad customer service and terrible for team morale.
I applied online. I interviewed at Powell's Books (Portland, OR).
This was one of the strangest interviews I've ever been in. It was with 3 individuals, and my immediate feeling when I walked in is that they didn't want me there. They explained in a robotic, scripted way that they'd be asking 10 long questions, but it was apparent they had no interest in asking the typed questions on their pages. Not a single question pertained to me as an individual or my skill set. They didn't even ask about the current role I was working in a different company, which was quite similar in many ways to the position I was interviewing for. They never once went off script of those ten questions until I asked my own at the end, which they seemed uncomfortable with. Instead, every question invited you to describe a very specific instance of something you did in a previous job. The questions were so long and meandering, questions of the type that not even presidential candidates are asked in debates, that it was hard to keep track of all the different points I was supposed to be making in my answer. Those ten questions could have easily been 50, and could have been much better asked in a back-and-forth with the interview candidate for a much better assessment of skills and capabilities. I understand that it was a way to glean how I behaved in past instances, but not having been in that exact role I'd been interviewing for, the questions seemed impertinent. The only thing I came away with after the interview was that they were already intending to hire someone internally and had to go through the interview process anyway. Maybe it had something to do with the fact they're unionized. I was not offered the job, but the environment was so impersonal, unfriendly, and odd that I wouldn't have taken it anyway.
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