Frequent interview questions at John Lewis & Partners

We analyzed 626 interview reviews for John Lewis & Partners 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.

10 frequent non-technical questions at John Lewis & Partners:

Tell me about yourself
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer
Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
Describe a time you worked on a team with individuals from different cultural backgrounds
Describe a time when you led by example
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it
Have you ever had a problem with another team member that you were working with? If so, how did you handle it?

According to our research, hiring managers at John Lewis & Partners ask soft skills interview questions 2.0x more than at other companies:

John Lewis & Partners 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 56% more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

You can practice answering over 150 common job interview questions by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon.

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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 2.7x more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

3. 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 company 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:

  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.

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

Statistics

This question is asked 2.9x more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

4. 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 feet 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 him?

  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 2.1x more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

5. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job

How to answer

This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment.

This question is designed to help the interviewer discover what type of problem-solver you are.

Why do employers ask this question?

It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who can think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

  1. About Yourself

    It’s your chance to show that in tough times you turn to your inner strength and possess skills to find the right solutions.

    You probably had to solve many problems daily at work. It’s high time to remember them.

    If you do not prepare examples in advance, this question will get you off guard and you will find it difficult to remember all the details on the move.

    Start with recalling a few examples of real obstacles you coped with. For each of them, think about:

    • What was the project or task you were trying to accomplish?
    • What was the obstacle? This can be a specific problem related to your job or a higher-order issue across the organization.
    • What steps did you take to address the issue?
    • What decisions did you have to make?
    • How did the company benefit from your decisions?
    • How would you describe your approach, or what lessons have you learned?

    Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause.

  2. About The Company

    When you research the company, try and find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Try to find out what they need in terms of problem resolution.

    Search for online reviews, complaints and any other useful resources. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, resilience, and strength of character. Talk through your problem-solving process and show how you can think on your feet.

    Pick an example relevant to the position you are aiming for.

    Let’s say, you are applying for a blog writing job. The job description mentions that a successful candidate must have experience working “in a dynamic environment.”

    You could mention a situation in which you had to write an article on short notice because your coworker failed at the last moment to complete the assignment. You were short of time but worked extra hours to prepare the article successfully and on time.

    This answer would show your experience in blog writing, your sense of responsibility, ability to achieve results under stress, your willingness to go the extra mile, your problem-solving skills.

Pro Tip

This question is not about your past, it's how you deal with things that will happen in the future, so try to keep your answer short and focused.

After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened.

Use the STAR method to prepare your story and practice it so that you can stay within 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to show that you remained positive when overcoming a hurdle at work. Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.6x more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

6. Describe a time you worked on a team with individuals from different cultural backgrounds

How to answer

Why do interviewers ask this question?

Nowadays many companies rate global and cultural awareness as a key competency for all employees. For most jobs today, it is essential to be able to work well with diverse teams, including individuals who understand international and cultural differences and can interact respectfully with individuals from diverse cultures, political affiliations, races, religions, ages, genders and sexual orientations.

  1. About Yourself

    Answering this question highlights your ability to navigate cultural differences at work.

    Think about your team experiences and times when you’ve had to overcome differences with colleagues.

    • How do you adapt to working with team members of different communication styles?
    • Are you open-minded enough to consider all their ideas even if you don't agree?
    • How do you handle the differences in attitudes and values between you and people from other countries or backgrounds?
    • Do you show respect and are you diplomatic with those people?

    Maybe you haven’t worked with people from different cultures, but you may have been studying or been friends with people from different backgrounds.

    Address your personal life, if necessary, and emphasize your curiosity and openness to other cultures.

  2. About The Company

    A careful review of the job description, along with some research of the company will help you anticipate what aspects of global/cultural awareness are most important for a particular role in the company you are applying to.

  3. About The Fit

    Demonstrate your openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and show your understanding of individuals’ differences.

    Your task is to prove to the interviewer your ability to build strong and caring relationships based on trust and shared goals.

    Use the STAR method to tell a story about how your experience helped you to create an open and inclusive workplace environment, so all team members felt empowered to contribute.

    Ensure the interviewer that you are very comfortable working with team members from other cultures and possibly with different communication styles. Make it your advantage.

    For example, you can say something like: “At my recent work, representatives of different cultures participated in one common project. As a result, our team was able to approach the tasks from different viewpoints to reach a successful conclusion.

Pro Tip

Working in a multicultural team has both advantages and challenges at the same time. In such a team you can broaden your outlook.

Challenges that you have to overcome are: to understand other people’s language and culture, to get used to the different ways they think and work; to reduce mistrust that can be a barrier to understanding each other, and to promote awareness of cultural diversity in the workplace.

If you overcome these challenges, you will be the ideal employee at any job.

Statistics

This question is asked 4.2x more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

7. Describe a time when you led by example

How to answer

You might think that leadership questions are only relevant for management positions, but that’s a common misconception.

Most companies are looking for people with leadership potential even when hiring for entry-level positions. WOWing your interviewer on this question could open the doors for future leadership positions.

Fortunately, you have Mr. Simon at your side to help you achieve greatness!

  1. About Yourself

    • Are you an entry-level person or a seasoned pro?
    • Are you a manager, a team leader a member of a staff or a team?

    In all these scenarios, you probably had a chance at some point to show someone else how to do the job in the best possible way. In other words, you led by example. This is what you need to keep in mind in responding to the question.

    If you managed or led a team, you have already led by example and the the STAR method should be used to provide an answer.

    If you are at an entry-level, you should be still able to answer the question from your own experiences in school or at a summer job.

    Or you might start by thinking of the different leaders you've worked with or whose lives you have followed and identify what their best traits are. Then, identify those skills that you have that are relatable to the leaders you admire.

  2. About The Company

    Review the job description carefully and identify the type of leadership skills required for the role; customize your answer according to their requirements.

    Often, the desired leadership capabilities are spelled right out in the job description. One position may require managing a large team and another may be looking for someone who can take the initiative on special projects.

    Do your research!

  3. About The Fit

    Prepare an example that demonstrates your leadership ability; focus on a somewhat recent example.

    Some of your leadership skills might include taking initiative, communicating a vision, translating vision into reality, inspiring others, making tough decisions, motivating, empowering or developing others.

    The best stories include enough detail to be believable and memorable.

    Show how you were a leader in the situation and how it represents your overall leadership experience and/or potential. At the same time, you must make an effort to keep the story concise. Using the the STAR method will help you stay focused.

    Round out your answer with how your leadership skills would fit with the company culture.

Pro Tip

Start the conversation with the ideal qualities of a leader you admire and then segue into a standout experience that will make the interviewer remember you.

Statistics

This question is asked 8.4x more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

8. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment

How to answer

Of all your accomplishments (and I am sure you’ve had a great many of them!), you should choose the one most relevant to this job position.

  1. About Yourself

    Write down your Key Selling Points - your top 3-5 skills that make you a strong professional.

    Write down a list of your top 3-5 professional accomplishments that you are most proud of. No need for lengthy descriptions, just 1-2 words for each one to help you recall each situation.

    Make sure you have developed the story behind each accomplishment and have a strong command of the details of what happened so that you can tell the story clearly and distinctly.

    Along with each accomplishment, mark which of your Key Selling Points they showcase. How exactly?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What are the major projects going on?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Try to imagine yourself being an employee of the company you are applying to, say, at your 6th month into the job.

    • Which of your Key Selling Points and accomplishments would be most relevant to the company?
    • What “have you accomplished at your new job?”

    Choose the most relevant accomplishment from your list and then practice telling your story.

Pro Tip

Most enterprises are now going through major transformations, often called Digital Transformation.

Do your research on what it means and what is often involved, to get a better idea of the current goals and environments in companies. But one thing that definitely characterizes this transformation is striving for agility.

In particular, for startups (if you are applying to a startup or a small business), agility is their middle name, in order for them to survive among bigger sharks in the market.

So, demonstrating qualities like agility and adaptability should generally be helpful and quite a safe choice in most circumstances today.

Statistics

This question is asked 8% more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

9. Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it

How to answer

Nowadays, professional life is stressful everywhere and always. However, there are levels of stress that are so common that we consider them normal, and there are times when they really skyrocket.

Your future employer wants to know how you will behave in such times, whether you will be a helping hand or a burden.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a time when you had to hit a tight timeline and to work long hours, hard and overtime; or when you found yourself in the middle of a conflict with someone, or with a group of people.

    If you had more than one such occasion, choose one that ended positively and successfully, and ideally, that can demonstrate some of your key skills - your Key Selling Points.

    Most likely, the situation was highly emotional.

    • What helped you persevere?
    • Was there an element that you enjoyed?

    For example, in one of our projects, my team and I had to hit a really tough timeline for a customer, which seemed almost impossible in the beginning.

    However, we knew that we owned the results and that a major decision by the customer depended on the outcome. This sense of ownership, meaning, and impact gave us energy and excitement.

    Those were the challenges that we loved and could deal with for a sustained period of time. Also, the pleasure of working with a highly qualified top manager on the customer’s side added to the enjoyment.

    Now, after a few years, we remember those times as some of the most exciting for our team.

  2. About The Company

    • What do you know about the company, where you may encounter a stressful situation?
    • Are they working on a major project which is approaching a due date?
    • Are they going through a difficult time when cost-saving is a top priority, company culture is full of negativity and mistrust, they have gone through massive layoffs, customers are neglected, and everyone wears a long face?

    These are always stressful times, and you should try to know more about expectations in the company, and how realistic they are.

    Or, are they just a dynamic, highly agile company run by smart and creative folks, which may work excellently for some people and be confusing and mind-blowing for others?

    Do your research!

  3. About The Fit

    Think of your ideal workplace environment.

    • Does this company feel like it?
    • Do you feel excited and enthusiastic about the kinds of stress you may encounter here?

    If you feel compatible with this company culture and enthusiastic about the challenges you expect here, this is a good chance to mention it and to show your excitement.

    Explain your approach or rationale and give your example from the past.

Pro Tip

If you cannot remember any stressful situation with a positive outcome, you can use one with a negative outcome accompanied by your lessons learned.

However, this option should not be your first choice, as the failure to give an example of a successful outcome may portray you as an emotionally immature person.

Statistics

This question is asked 3% more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.

10. Have you ever had a problem with another team member that you were working with? If so, how did you handle it?

How to answer

If you are asked this question, the interviewers really want to know not about your superiors or colleagues, they are asking about you.

This question helps them to get a sense of whether or not you like working on a team, how well you work in groups, and what role you tend to take on a team project: leader, mediator or follower.

It will also show whether you are easy to get along with, which is important in almost any work environment. So, you should answer this question by talking about yourself, not complaining about a former boss or employees.

  1. About Yourself

    • Have you ever had problems working with someone?
    • How did you deal with unexpected obstacles?
    • Were you able to find solutions by yourself?
    • Did you take the initiative?
    • Can you look at problems at different angles?
    • Can you find a common language with people?
    • What were the key lessons you learned from the situation?
  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company and its culture.

    • How do the employees value each other?
    • How do they deal with conflict situations?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?

    Carefully review the job description so you understand what "teamwork" means for the position and the company.

  3. About The Fit

    It’s important to show your people-skills, communication and problem-solving skills.

    If you can, give an example of a time you had a problem with another team member at a previous job. Remember that everything in this story should be told in a positive way.

    For example: "I had disagreements with my coworker at my first job, but I took advantage of the good advice given to me by my manager and talked to him. It turned out that we simply misunderstood each other. This case made me realize that communication is the basis of any relationship and that it is possible to reach an agreement with almost anyone."

    In this example, you did not say anything bad about your coworker or about yourself. On the contrary, you have shown that you can find solutions to any problem.

Pro Tip

The main thing is to answer in a positive way, and not badmouth your former team members.

Show your abilities to stay calm and collected. Reaching compromises and actively listening can be your additional advantage.

Ensure that your answer highlights the manner in which you made good use of your conflict management skills. Use the STAR method to make your story logical.

Statistics

This question is asked 5.1x more frequently at John Lewis & Partners than at other companies.


This page has been updated on July 6, 2020.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions from John Lewis & Partners by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

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