Starbucks Interview Process - Hiring Happiness?


As a big Starbucks fan and avid traveller I have noticed a trend while travelling whether its from Toronto to Texas to California... All Starbucks employees seem to have a very similar personality and always seem cheerful. I've never noticed this in any other fast food chain, and as a Canadian, I visit a lot of Tim Hortons when no Starbucks is near.

I've been starting to branch out into more retail/physical businesses and have always been wondering how Starbucks seems to attract this personality. Is it their interview process? Is it their training? Do they pay more? Do they have more systems in place, like asking for your first name and yelling out your drink order? I would love to know others thoughts around this...

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asked Feb 28 '11 at 12:14
313 points

4 Answers


It's a starbucks culture thing. They start new stores by using "seed" personnel from existing stores. Those "seeds" are responsible for hiring people who already tend towards the bubbly side of their personality. Then when you put multiple bubbly people loving people in the same space, they reinforce each other until the store just feels happy.

This is reinforced by store policy like asking for your first name for your drink, or a very open environment between the coffee bar and the shop area. They also try to get you in the store on a time that's best for you to function as a being, so if you have people who enjoy mornings, then they work mornings, while people who enjoy evenings work evenings.

So when you put people who enjoy coffee (similar interest) with other personalities who are similar interests in an environment that encourages openness (that you prefer) then you end up with happy employees who feel like they're just hanging out with their friends while they work. I don't know if starbucks was started with this in mind intentionally, or if it happened and they decided to capitalize on it, but it is all part of a very intentional process to make each starbucks feel familiar, but unique at the same time for the "starbucks experience".

answered Feb 28 '11 at 15:10
Kort Pleco
891 points
  • Great answer. You make really valid points. – Evik James 12 years ago


They pay their employees well compared to others in food service. They give all their employees health benefits. They respect their employees from the top down, and value opinions. They provide a real career path, where for some its a job, some can stay with the company a long time. They hire people who fit their culture, those who have energetic personalities to begin with. Their process is very customer focused.

Another benefit they have is that many go to starbucks to chill. Its a lot different than going to McDonalds to get a quick fix on a high calorie diet. Starbucks has worked hard to build a culture around their product, everything from the lighting to locations, to layouts of their shops. They dont allow for a lcoation to be too busy, even willing to open one across the street to serve their clients. All this results in better, happier clients, which makes for better happier employees.

The business side of Starbucks is CUT THROAT. They have a culture that I admire where they put their team first, and are against their competion, foes, or those they have to do business with. I know this from personal experience involving a property they attempted to purchase from me years ago. It was a dirty deal.

answered Feb 28 '11 at 21:37
2,079 points


Perhaps they have a strong employee referral program. Secondly it's the Halo effect... you're cool if you work for a cool place. Apple, Borders, Starbucks can attract more resumes so they can be pickier.

answered Mar 3 '11 at 10:47
249 points


Not that the screen process isn't important, I think the nature of the job and how employees are treated is a major factor.

You have to hire really bubbly people if you expect them to keep it up while cleaning out a toilet with the boss standing outside the door yelling insults at you.

answered Mar 1 '11 at 08:24
Jeff O
6,169 points

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