Questions at Instacart interviews

We analyzed 391 interview reviews for Instacart from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

12 frequent non-technical questions at Instacart:

Tell me about yourself
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer
Why did you leave your last job?
What one skill do you possess that you think will be the most important to a hiring manager?
What is your ideal work environment?
What are your top 3 skills?
What are your salary requirements?
What are the most difficult decisions you have had to make?
Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?
Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer
Tell me about a time when you had an issue with your previous boss

According to our research, hiring managers at Instacart ask soft skills interview questions 39% less than at other companies:

Instacart interview question statistics

1. Tell me about yourselftop question

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement. Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills? Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the Company. Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position? Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences? Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like “Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?" That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Statistics

This question is asked 1% more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

2. How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in every company, and even so much more so in a company that deals with difficult customers occasionally. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember how you diffused the situation and how you turned things around. Do you have certain principles, or methodology, to deal with difficult people? Do you have strong people skills, are you good at conflict resolution? Are you high on emotional intelligence? Can you give an example?

  2. About The Company

    What have you found about the company and its culture? What have you learned about how the employees value each other? How do they treat their customers? Knowing their line of business or industry, what can be some examples of difficult customers? Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    A question like this asked in an interview, may be an indication that difficult customers, or other difficult stakeholders, may indeed be something that you will probably encounter in this company, and it is important for the interviewer to know that you will be able to handle this challenge with good grace. If you can give an example of how you handled a difficult person in the past in a situation similar to what this company may require from you, this will strongly increase your chances of showing yourself as a good fit.

Pro Tip

One methodology for diffusing a difficult situation is called “the triple A” approach:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you added another "A" to your approach by Asking for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.6x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

3. Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your toes and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best. Now think about the time you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for the customer?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Read online reviews and any other available information. What are their standards for treating customers? What complaints have you seen that can give you a hint of some of the challenges associated with customer service?

  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications. Now think of how these requirements are met by how you went above and beyond for a customer. Frame your story in terms of your STAR method:

    S - What was the Situation?
    T - What was your Task?
    A - What Action did you take?
    R - Talk about the Results.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always an excellent way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

Statistics

This question is asked 4.8x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

4. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company. Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change,
    • You are unhappy with your current employment,
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the ompany and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

Statistics

This question is asked 7% more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

5. What one skill do you possess that you think will be the most important to a hiring manager?

How to answer

Employers place a lot of emphasis on finding candidates with the right skills and competencies for their organizations. Depending on the career sector and profession you choose to work in, there are very specific skills, abilities and knowledge needed to do the job well. The interviewer asks this question to make sure you will be a good fit with your skills and experience and will be a great addition to their team.

  1. About Yourself

    If you’re not sure which skill would be best to share, consider your previous work experiences.

    • Where did you excel?
    • What would your peers say you’re especially proficient at?
    • Have you ever received recognition for meeting a particular objective or excelling in a specific area?If so, your skills likely assisted you in reaching this achievement.
    • What personal talents or attributes helped you meet that milestone?
      Ask former coworkers or managers to help you to determine your strengths that made you unique. Imagine yourself as a manager who needs an employee to fill the position you are currently applying for. What would you as the manager expect from a candidate for this job?
  2. About The Company

    Start by reviewing the job description and making note of any required skills or abilities that match your own. The job posting is a great guide for what employers want to see in candidates. In addition to job requirements, consider the depiction of the company and its culture in the job description. Be sure to research the company by reviewing its website for additional information to get to know what skill you should mention.

  3. About The Fit

    It’s important to highlight your best hard and soft skills (your Key Selling Points) to position yourself as a well-rounded candidate. Though you may have several different areas of strength, include only those that are relevant to the job. Adaptability, critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and effective communication – it is the list of most common soft skills that can be helpful in any job, so you can choose the one to share with the hiring manager that best describes you. But to make your answer stronger, the skill should be specific to the job you are applying for. Be certain to give examples of how this skill helped you in your last job.

Pro Tip

It is important to be able to distinguish your skills from personal qualities. The first are acquired in the process of work and training, and the second characterize you as a person.

Statistics

This question is asked 6.2x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

6. What is your ideal work environment?

How to answer

Happy and motivated employees are great at work when compared to employees who are uncomfortable with the organization’s work culture. This means that work culture plays an important role in the performance of the employees. Interviewers ask this question to understand your potential in the workplace and your personality; they want to uncover whether you’re the sort of individual who can excel in the type of environment they offer.

  1. About Yourself

    To describe your ideal work environment, you need to make the answer fit both your professional and personal preferences.

    • What inspires and motivates you?
    • What kind of work environment helps you to be at your best?
    • What talents can you reveal when you are comfortable?
    • What aspects of your character can increase your professional opportunities?
    • Are you flexible enough to adjust to different environments without any issues if needed?
  2. About The Company

    Your answer should reflect the working environment of the business you’re interviewing with, so it’s important that you research the company thoroughly. Head over to their website and read their mission statement and other hints at their culture. Look on LinkedIn for any contacts you may have that know about the company (or even better, that actually work or worked there) and reach out to them for insights. Read feedbacks on websites like Glassdoor. What goals does the company have? Does it have formal or informal structures? What does it value in its employees?

  3. About The Fit

    Work environment not only means the culture of the company but also refers to the physical place where you will be working. In addition to considering the type of company you will be working for, you should also think about things such as the size of the office, the size of your future team, and what you see around you, when you are in for the interview. Make sure that your vision aligns with the company’s existing cultural and physical environment. Regardless of the size of the company, you should be able to tell the interviewer why that company fits what you are looking for. If you are applying to a larger company, you might want to emphasize that job security is important to you. If your prospective job is with a smaller company - state that knowing everyone’s name allows you to feel connected. To convince them that you’re the ideal candidate you should focus on your aspirations for future and professional growth. Also, mention your teamwork skills. Say that it should be the place where you can work with different people to produce the best results possible. Ensure the interviewer that you are someone who knows exactly what you want.

Pro Tip

If you want to leave a lasting impression of yourself, don’t build your answer just with the company, its website information and its manner of operations. Try to be unique and stay away from clichés.

Statistics

This question is asked 8.4x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

7. What are your top 3 skills?

How to answer

This is one of the best questions you can expect! If you are prepared for it, this question allows you to take full control of the conversation by communicating exactly what you want the interviewer to know about you. This is your time to showcase the best of you!

  1. About Yourself

    First, come up with a list of skills that you know you are good at – as many as you can think of. If you find this exercise difficult, use the helpful questions below:

    • What skills are you better at than your peer X? Your peer Y? Your boss Z?
    • What positive feedback could your manager, colleagues, clients, or even friends give about working with you?
    • What positive points were made about you in your last review(s) that involve the skills you demonstrated?
    • In which areas do you have professional knowledge and/or experience?
    • What records of achievement do you have?
    • What was the most impressive recent achievement you can think of? Which skills of yours made this success possible?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company to help identify the kinds of skills needed. Also, carefully review the job description, this should detail the types of skills required for the job.

  3. About The Fit

    Highlight the skills from your list that match the list from the job description. Pick 3 top skills. These are your Key Selling Points! Be sure to communicate them to your interviewer when asked this question and at other points during the interview.

    Think of an example that can demonstrate some of your Key Selling Points. It is usually a good idea to support your example with the description of impact you made and, ideally, numbers (e.g. how this impacted the profits, how many customers provided positive reviews etc.)

Pro Tip

Optionally, you can end with a question like “And do you know what are the current challenges where my skills can be helpful for the company?", or “I see from the job description that you are looking for someone with the skills X and Y. Could you elaborate on this a little further?”. That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Statistics

This question is asked 5.5x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

8. What are your salary requirements?

How to answer

This question seems factual, but it gauges how well you value yourself and how well you know your industry. This is your opportunity to present yourself as a qualified professional and get a proper salary! Read on to learn how you can answer this question with confidence, using an analytical approach. The answer may be given as a range or as a single target number.

  1. About Yourself

    The first thing to research is the salary range for your role in the market. What is the industry standard? Glassdoor, LinkedIn and other similar sights are useful for this purpose.

    Next, think of your qualifications for the role. Weigh in your traits, skills, education, and experience. Try this exercise, draw a line on a piece of paper where on the left side sits a complete beginner, and on the right side - the best professional in the world the company may try to invite for the role. Where do you position yourself?

    Now, remember that once you start in your new role, your qualifications will be growing fast, due to all the new experience you will be gaining - consequently, your value will rise as well. Your salary, on the other hand, will not increase as quickly. So, try to imagine where your qualifications will bring you, on that scale, in about a year into the new job.

    Map the scale against the industry range. Now you should be able to come up with an objective figure, as opposed to pure speculation.
    This is not real math, however, so your number cannot be very precise, of course. Define a range, which starts with the minimum that will keep you satisfied a few months into the job, and the maximum which, a year into the job, will give you the lifestyle you would ideally like to have at that time.

    Make sure the range stays within 40%-60% between extremes. Remember, the higher the position up the ladder, the wider the range can be. What is the number in the middle? Will you feel comfortable with this number?

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and find out what they are paying. The best places to find this information are Glassdoor, LinkedIn, PayScale and other similar websites.

  3. About The Fit

    Based on your research, does the company fit your desired salary range?

    Now, whether you should be giving a range, or a single target number is a matter of debate. I personally think that a single number, given in a suggestive manner, is better than the range, because when given a range, they may logically gravitate towards the lower end, especially since you’ve said that the lower number is acceptable.

    One example of how to structure your answer of a single target number is this:

    I have done my research and based on the average for the industry, location, and my level of expertise, something like XXX seems reasonable to me. What do you think?

    Besides giving the factual answer that the interviewer is asking for, such an answer will also show you to be someone who takes the initiative, who goes the extra mile, and someone with data-driven and analytical mindset.

Pro Tip

Firstly try asking the interviewer to give you their intended range as budgeted for this role, which is a regular practice in most companies. However, don’t be too evasive and if you see they are not inclined to give you their number, name yours.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.1x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

9. What are the most difficult decisions you have had to make?

How to answer

Employers ask this question because they want to see that when you face a difficult decision or situation you’re able to handle it. They also want to see what kind of decisions you consider difficult. For sure, they are looking for a reply that relates to your career or education. This question is designed to discover how you have managed certain situations and how you behaved in the past, to help predict what you’ll do in the future.

  1. About Yourself

    Refresh your memory and reflect on some specific situations you have dealt with or projects you have worked on. Are you confident and capable when making big decisions? What is your approach to decision-making? Can you stay calm and rational? How strong are your critical thinking skills?

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture and try to find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Search for online reviews and any other useful resources. What will your responsibilities be? What problems and obstacles can you expect to face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is a great opportunity to show exactly how you would perform as an employee under a new boss and to highlight your Key Selling Points! Make sure that your approaches meet the standards of the company you are applying to. If you know that the quality is important for the company – show how your decisions worked for quality; if it is the speed – give examples of how quickly you could solve these problems; if it is about independent decision-making - emphasize how you made the correct decision by yourself.
    Answering this question, give one or two concrete examples of difficult situations you have actually faced at work. Then discuss what decisions you made to remedy the situations. Use examples such as changing majors in university, quitting a job, leaving the family business, terminating an employee, relocating to a new city for better opportunities, or even starting a venture. Be sure to highlight how things have worked out for you since making this challenging decision. Using the STAR method will help you to make your story concise and logical.

Pro Tip

Avoid examples that make you seem indecisive or uncertain. Be specific. Itemize what you did, how you did it, and how your difficult decision ultimately benefited you, your team and your employer.

You can end your answer with this question: “And do you know what principles the company uses in decision-making?" It can help you learn more about the company’s priorities, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and let the interviewer see you have strong intentions to work for them.

Statistics

This question is asked 15.2x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

10. Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?

How to answer

This question lets an interviewer gauge what makes you tick and whether the job you are applying for corresponds with your areas of excitement and enthusiasm. Such a fit will earn you important points for being a viable candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Review the details that you shared in your resume. Select the three to five best points to highlight and relate to the position to which you're applying.

  2. About The Company

    Carefully research the company and the job description. Find out what duties you'll be taking on to determine which of your top skills to emphasize. Try to find out what current challenges they are trying to solve by opening this vacancy.

  3. About The Fit

    Knowing the duties for which you will be responsible will help you identify which prior experiences to highlight. How well you connect your previous experiences with the job requirements can tell the interviewer how prepared you are for this role and how enthusiastic you will be about your job.

Pro Tip

Do not start your answer with "as you can see from my resume," even if you have listed those skills and qualities. Instead, tell a story showing that you can solve problems similar to their current challenges and that you are enthusiastic about this. You can best do this through constant practice of your STARs.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.3x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

11. Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer

How to answer

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. How you handle a disgruntled customer can make the difference between closing a sale and failing to do so. It takes good people skills to handle such situations, and this question is a good opportunity to demonstrate your people skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a time when, as a customer, you had a problem with a company. How did you feel? How did you want to be treated? How would the situation ideally be resolved? If it were you on the serving side of the table, what would you do differently? Have you had such experiences in the past where you helped a frustrated customer? What was the critical factor in a successful resolution of the situation? Try to define your principles or approach.

    For example, I know that people tend to be frustrated when they feel neglected and unimportant. Whenever possible, I try to meet in person and establish face-to-face contact with someone who feels disgruntled, so that I can fully focus on the situation. (And believe me, checking your phone while speaking with such a customer is definitely NOT a good idea). Of course, this may not always be possible in your line of business or profession, but I guess you see what I mean - showing full attention greatly improves your chances of mitigating the situation.

  2. About The Company

    Every company relies on customers. Research the Сompany you are applying to and try to find out what their standards of customer relationship or service are, as well as try to find out some real cases where the customers complained about the company, and what the company did to mitigate the situations (a possible source might be Yelp! or another social media platform). Based on your research, how does the company treat customers? How do they resolve customer issues?

  3. About The Fit

    How can you make things better and WOW the customer? Give an example that demonstrates that your approach to resolving customer frustrations is in line with the company policies.

Pro Tip

A disgruntled customer generally just needs someone to listen to them.

The three A’s of customer service can help diffuse the difficult situation:

  • Acknowledge the customer's feelings,
  • Apologize for the customer's experience,
  • Admit the customer is experiencing an issue and you will do your best to assist them.

Add the extra “A” and Ask for the customer's contact information so you can update them on any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 7% less frequently at Instacart than at other companies.

12. Tell me about a time when you had an issue with your previous boss

How to answer

Every relationship, both personal and professional, encounters some sort of issues. This is why disagreements at work, especially with your manager, are likely to happen. Hiring managers ask this question to get a sense of how you might handle possible disagreements with them once you are hired. They want someone who can speak the truth to them in a way that builds a strong, positive relationship. They are curious about the respect you show to a higher authority while having the courage enough to stand up for what you believe in. Finally, they want to discover whether you are a team player who can get along well with your boss and others in the workplace.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of an issue you had with your boss, and how you behaved in that situation. Which of the following elements played a role in that circumstance?

    • What’s your ‘conflict style’?
    • What’s your ideal way to solve a disagreement?
    • Do you get very stressed out and confront it head-on?
    • Do you just go along with what the boss wants even if you don’t agree?
    • Or do you push forward until change happens?
    • Are you able to be positive even about difficult situations?
    • How did you personally grow from the experience?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture. What do they value? Is there anything that you can find about how they deal with conflict resolution? What problems and obstacles might an employee face in a conflict situation with this company?

  3. About The Fit

    Whatever you say regarding your old or current boss, keep it factual, relevant and positive.

    The best way to respond is to use an example that illustrates a situation where you were able to persuade your boss to try things your way — and ultimately, it worked out well for both of you. Your story should ideally show how competent you are at your work and how you will be a good fit for the company. This answer can also display other great skills such as negotiating, selling an idea and inspiring others. Answer this question using the STAR method. Your answer should reflect your strong communication skills, how you took appropriate action, and end with a good outcome. Try to keep the story to around 60 seconds but no longer than a minute and a half.

Pro Tip

Your response will reveal your interpersonal skills and your ability to create smooth working relationships even in difficult situations, which are important in every job. Don’t speak badly about your previous supervisor; answer this question with extreme tact and diplomacy.

The key to a successful resolution of any issue is to fully listen and understand the other person’s perspective, then work together to come up with a solution. If you can identify a common goal, the solution is easier to find.

Statistics

This question is asked 13.2x more frequently at Instacart than at other companies.


This page has been updated on March 30, 2020.

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