You’ve finally landed an interview with Potbelly, but now the nerves are starting to set in. How can you make sure you absolutely nail it and get that job offer? Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.
In the coming few minutes while reading this blog post, your anxiety and nervousness will start to fade away as a sense of confidence builds up inside you. You will gain invaluable insights into the minds of the Potbelly interviewers and know exactly what they are looking for in a candidate. You will be armed with thoughtful example responses to some of the most commonly asked interview questions that will make you shine as a top candidate.
This blog post is designed to be your secret weapon to acing the Potbelly interview. The time and effort you invest in reading and preparation will pay off hugely when your hiring manager is thoroughly impressed with your polished and professional responses. You will walk out of that interview feeling triumphant, knowing you gave it your all, and proud of the work you put in to achieve your goal.
So take a deep breath, settle in, and let’s start preparing you for your big day. Success is on the horizon, and with the guidance provided in this blog post, that Potbelly job will soon be yours. You’ve got this!
Now let’s get to work.
Potbelly Company Information
To confidently handle any research-based questions in your Potbelly interview, familiarize yourself with some key facts about the company. Doing so will enable you to demonstrate your passion for the role, impress the interviewer, and set yourself up for success.
|Type||Fast Casual Restaurant Chain|
|Date Founded||Jan 14, 1977|
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Menu||Sandwiches, Salads, Mac & Soups, Chips, Sides, Cookies, Shakes, Drinks|
|Signature Items||Steakhouse Beef, Chicken Club, A Wreck|
|Core Values||Improving Communities, Respecting Earth’s Resources, Working Together|
|Competitors||Firehouse Subs, Jimmy John’s, Subway, Jersey Mike’s, Capriotti’s|
- Humble Beginnings: Potbelly started as an antique store in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in 1971, before its focus shifted to selling toasted sandwiches. Peter Hastings, the founder, chose the name ‘Potbelly’ inspired by an old potbelly stove.
- Unique Ambience: Maintaining its vintage appeal, Potbelly has an antique stove in every location, showcasing its roots and providing a unique, cozy atmosphere.
- Signature Toasting Technique: Potbelly’s signature toasting technique, which induces the Maillard reaction to bring out the flavors of the ingredients, has been a cornerstone of their success.
- Underground Menu: A secret ‘Underground Menu’ adds an element of intrigue and adventure for the customers. It features a variety of inventive, unique options such as the ‘Lucky 7’ sandwich and ‘Cookie Collision Shake’.
- Musical Heritage: Local musicians performing in each Potbelly store keep the tradition of live music alive, contributing to a warm, community-focused atmosphere.
- Individuality: No two Potbelly locations are the same. Each one is uniquely decorated with local art and artifacts, creating a distinct neighborhood feel.
- Attention to Detail: From the flower-shaped shortbread cookie on each milkshake straw to the selection of Zapp’s potato chips, Potbelly’s attention to detail helps to create an engaging and memorable customer experience.
- Secret Messages: Hidden messages such as ‘P’ for pigs and ‘H’ for hogs are found in each store, serving as a reminder to employees of the company’s commitment to generous serving sizes and fresh ingredients.
Potbelly Mission Statement
Making people really happy with craveable food, from our toasty sandwiches, soups, salads, fresh-baked cookies and hand-scooped milkshakes.
Potbelly Interview Questions
Why do you want to work for Potbelly?
This is a key question the interviewer will likely ask to determine your motivation and enthusiasm for the role and company. As you prepare for your interview, make sure you have a well-thought-out answer that conveys your passion for the brand.
This is your chance to prove you’re meant to be part of the Potbelly crew. As hiring managers, they’re searching for candidates truly passionate about Potbelly’s mission to serve up delicious food, good vibes, and big smiles.
So take a sec and think – what is it about Potbelly that flips your flapjacks? Their quirky, feel-good environment? The freaky-fast line out the door from open to close? The smell of hot sandwiches and hand-dipped shakes that makes your mouth water from a mile away? If that’s you, you’ve got this question in the bag.
Picture this – the interviewer leans in and asks, “Why Potbelly?” You flash a huge grin and say:
What are your expectations coming into Potbelly?
We understand this question can seem tricky, but don’t worry – with some insight into what the interviewer is looking for and an example answer, you’ll feel ready to knock this one out of the park.
The interviewer wants to gauge your level of enthusiasm for the role and ensure your expectations are realistic. This means focusing on growth, learning, and teamwork – not just pay or benefits.
Show them you’ve done your research by discussing growth opportunities, company culture, and career path. Mention you’re excited to grow with such an established brand. Focus on learning, development, and teamwork over compensation or benefits at this stage.
With the right prep, here’s how you could crush this question:
Everyone stubs their toe from time to time. Can you tell me about one thing you failed in?
Now it’s time to prepare for their infamous “failure question.” Don’t panic. We’re here to tell you exactly how to nail it.
This question from the Potbelly interviewer is designed to see how you handle mistakes and learn from your failures. We suggest openly admitting to a past failure, taking responsibility for your actions, and highlighting what you learned. The interviewer wants to see that you can grow from your mistakes rather than make excuses for them.
As you go into your Potbelly interview, prepare an example of a time you failed at something. Be honest, but also highlight the positives.
Say something like:
An example like this, with the right level of sincerity and reflection, will assure the interviewer that you can learn from your failures and have the maturity to thrive in a role at Potbelly.
When the lines are out the door and customers are hungry for more, how will you handle the situation?
Picture this: the lunch rush hits and the shop is packed. You’ve got a line of hangry customers eyeing the menu boards. What do you do? Take a deep breath – you’ve got this!
The Potbelly interviewer is trying to gauge your ability to remain calm under pressure and provide great customer service. As a candidate, be sure to convey your ability to think on your feet, work efficiently, and maintain a positive attitude.
Are you comfortable performing all the good stuff described in the job posting?
Potbelly isn’t looking to hire any prima donnas. They want team players – people willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes to keep their customers happy and operations running smoothly.
Some of that may be cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors or dealing with the occasional difficult customer. But don’t sweat it! As long as you’ve got the right mindset, you’ll do great.
To answer this question confidently, you’ll want to provide a thoughtful response that addresses any concerns the interviewer may have regarding your ability to perform well in all areas of the role.
What kind of music do you enjoy the most?
When the hiring manager asks about your favorite music, this isn’t just idle chitchat. They want to get a feel for your personality and see if you’ll vibe with Potbelly’s upbeat culture. As hiring experts, we know that candidates who personalize their answer make the best impressions.
Take a breath and be your authentic self. Share what gets you genuinely pumped on your daily commute or workout playlist.
For example, you might say:
An answer like this shows your enthusiastic and feel-good outlook, which is exactly what Potbelly is all about. It gives the interviewer insight into your character and values, not just surface interests.
Can you describe a time when you went above and beyond to make a customer’s day?
When the interviewer asks you to share a time you went above and beyond for a customer, this is your chance to shine. They want to see that you genuinely care and will move mountains to make someone’s day. Stories of real connections and heroic saves are what they crave.
Take a deep breath and think of a time you made a customer’s jaw drop with your over-the-top service. Now, get ready to dazzle the interviewer with the details!
Do you thrive in high-energy settings where the pace is fast and furious?
The interviewer is trying to determine if you can thrive in Potbelly’s energetic shop environment. To ace this question in your interview, follow these tips.
Show them you’re not just able to multi-task under pressure but that you thrive on it. Give examples of times you remained focused while juggling high volumes of work. Speak passionately about enjoying quick interactions with customers. Convince the interviewer you’re energized, not overwhelmed, by a bustling atmosphere.
You were born to work at Potbelly, now make them believe it too!
At Potbelly, we’re all in this together. How do you feel about pitching in alongside your crew members to get the work done?
This question allows the interviewer to gauge how well you would fit into Potbelly’s collaborative culture. When asked how you feel about working alongside crew members, convey your enthusiasm for teamwork.
Teamwork is what makes or breaks a place like Potbelly. If someone’s in the weeds or a customer needs help, you have to jump in without being asked. The interviewer wants to know that you’re that type of person – someone who sees what needs doing and does it, no questions asked.
Say something like:
What would you do if you saw someone steal money from the register?
This is one curveball question the interviewer might throw at you. Yikes, we know that sounds scary, but don’t sweat it. With our tips, you’ll be ready with a killer answer.
Potbelly is looking for candidates with integrity, a cool head under pressure, and mad problem-solving skills. This question is a chance for you to prove you’ve got all that and more.
Let’s imagine you spot someone swiping cash from the register. Here’s what you say:
How do you feel about collaborating with co-workers from all walks of life here at Potbelly?
This question about collaborating with diverse co-workers is a golden opportunity to stand out as a stellar candidate. Potbelly is all about bringing together people from every walk of life over amazing sandwiches and a great work environment.
When the interviewer asks you this, they want to know if you’ll be a team player. Drop any prejudices at the door and be ready to connect with anyone and everyone. Show them that you’re able to see beyond surface differences to find common ground and shared goals.
As for how to answer, check this out :
This question allows the interviewer to evaluate your problem-solving skills and see how you handle challenges.
As hiring managers, we recommend going into this question with a specific example in mind of a difficult situation you navigated successfully. Think of a time you resolved a complex issue or turned around a problematic situation. Focus on a challenge that showcases your ability to stay calm under pressure, think critically about solutions, and achieve a positive outcome.
Mistakes happen. Tell me about a time you made an error at work and how did you make it right?
Mistakes happen to the best of us, and Potbelly wants to see how you own up to errors. When the interviewer asks about a time you messed up at work, don’t panic. We’re here to give you the inside scoop on acing your answer.
Whatever you do, don’t downplay your mistake. Potbelly values honesty and humility, so come clean about a slip-up from your customer service days. The key is showing how you made things right and grew from the experience. Admitting fault and fixing mistakes – that’s the stuff of a rockstar employee.
For example, you could say:
See, mistakes don’t have to be deal-breakers! When you frame it as a chance to show integrity, your error becomes an opportunity to shine.
If offered a position, do you see yourself building a long and successful career at Potbelly?
As candidates, questions about your long term goals with the company always seem tricky to answer. However, for the Potbelly interviewer, this question is crucial. They want to hire team members who will thrive in their culture and stick around for the long haul.
So when the interviewer asks if you see yourself building a career there, speak from the heart, and show them why you’re the perfect fit. We recommend being enthusiastic yet realistic.
How comfortable are you with engaging warmly and authentically with new people?
As the face of their brand, Potbelly values employees who can start genuine conversations and build quick rapport. When the Potbelly interviewer asks this question, they’re really just trying to figure out if you’d make an awesome new member of the Potbelly family. And of course you would – you love connecting with people from all walks of life!
So flash that winning smile of yours. When that question comes up, launch into how much you thrive on starting genuine conversations with customers and co-workers alike. Share how your natural warmth and curiosity about others allows you to find common ground and make real bonds in no time at all.
For instance, you might say something like:
For example, you might say:
What is your greatest achievement that makes you most proud?
We know the “greatest achievement” question can make even the most confident candidate nervous. But don’t sweat it. We’re here to give you the inside scoop so you can wow them with your answer.
The interviewer wants to see what motivates you, and what makes you proud of the work you do. Think of an achievement that sparked a genuine sense of accomplishment. Pick something that proves your dedication to customer satisfaction. When you find the perfect example, practice your answer. Speak passionately about the impact you made.
With the right story, this question is in the bag.
As you prepare for your Potbelly interview, you want to be ready to discuss a time you faced conflict with a supervisor and how you handled it. The interviewer will ask this question to assess your problem-solving skills, conflict-resolution ability, and professionalism under pressure.
Conflict happens, but how you handle it says everything about the kind of employee you’ll be. So choose an example that shows you can communicate openly, address issues constructively, and resolve tensions. Keep your answer brief, professional, and end on a high note. Focus on what you learned and how it made you better at your job.
When the question comes up, take a confident breath and say something like:
What does delivering great customer service mean to you?
When the interviewer asks you about customer service, this is your chance to wow them with your passion for creating amazing experiences. As a candidate for Potbelly, your answer could be your golden ticket! We recommend focusing on how you go all out for your customers.
Forget the standard answer. Tell them how it really is:
As you prep for your interview, you want to anticipate questions that will show off your ability to play nice with others. The interviewer will likely ask you something like this to make sure you can have difficult conversations in a professional manner and come to a resolution.
We know, conflict at work is the worst. But don’t stress, we’ve got your back! When they ask this, the interviewer really wants to know two things: can you act professionally when you have differing opinions, and can you find a compromise? Show them that you can, and the job is as good as yours.
Here’s an example answer that would totally wow them:
Dealing with angry customers comes with the territory in the food industry. When the Potbelly interviewer asks you about handling an impatient customer, they want to see how you transform a tense situation into a positive experience.
When answering this question in your interview, keep the following tips in mind:
- Focus on listening to the customer and acknowledging their frustration. Say something like, “I understand why you feel that way.” This validates their feelings without admitting fault. Stay calm and composed. Do not get defensive or argue with the customer.
- After hearing them out, apologize sincerely and take responsibility. Say, “I apologize for your experience. What can I do to make this right?” Offer a solution like a refund, discount or replacement to resolve the issue.
Here’s an example:
See? A little customer service magic can turn the angriest customer into your biggest fan. You’ve got the skills to handle any situation professionally, so walk into that Potbelly interview with your head high.
What are your short-term and long-term goals? How will working with Potbelly help you achieve them?
This is a chance for the interviewer to get to know you better and see how motivated and driven you are. We recommend being enthusiastic and highlighting how the role aligns perfectly with your career objectives.
When they ask, don’t just rattle off a generic answer. Really sell your excitement for the brand!
You might say something like:
What do you know about Potbelly’s values and culture?
This question allows the interviewer to assess how well you’ve researched the company and whether your values align with Potbelly’s mission and priorities.
So do your homework. Check out Potbelly’s website and read between the lines to identify their core values and commitment to high quality and customer service. Also, check out reviews from current and former employees on Indeed and Glassdoor to get a feel for Potbelly’s culture and what it’s really like to work there.
We’ve found Potbelly values a friendly, team-oriented environment where employees genuinely care about each other and provide amazing experiences for customers. Managers pitch in on busy shifts, employees know all the regulars by name.
In your answer, paint a picture of the Potbelly experience. For example:
What would be your approach to delegating responsibilities to team members?
You want to make a great impression in your Potbelly interview, and being able to articulate how you would effectively delegate responsibilities to team members is key. The interviewer wants to see that you can identify team members’ strengths, distribute work accordingly, and empower your team to thrive.
We’re here to help you craft an answer that’ll blow them away. The key is showing you care—about your team members, their development, their motivations and work styles.
Tell the interviewer you’d take the time to get to know everyone individually. Find out what makes them excited to come to work each day and what their career dreams are. Then give them responsibilities that tap into that. Make it clear you’re all about open communication, constructive feedback, and collaboration. Let them know you trust and support your team.
Here’s how you could put that into action:
What hours are you available to work? Do you have any availability restrictions we should be aware of?
When the interviewer asks about your availability, they just want to make sure you’re ready to fully commit to the Potbelly team. As one of the top fast-casual spots around, their restaurants are hustling and bustling from open to close.
So, how will you convey that you’re up for the challenge? Be flexible but honest, enthusiastic yet realistic.
Here’s an example of how you could convey your availability during the interview:
What aspects of working in customer service do you like and dislike?
Through this question, the interviewer will evaluate your passion for customer service and ensure you’re a good culture fit.
We’ve talked to countless Potbelly hiring managers, and according to them, candidates who focus on connecting with customers and brightening their day always stand out. Tell the interviewer you live to make personal connections, spread good vibes, and collaborate with coworkers to solve issues. Of course, also mention you know how to stay professional when handling unhappy customers.
As for what you “dislike”, keep things positive. For example, say: “The only aspect I dislike is when I’m unable to turn a customer’s experience around completely. But I always learn from those interactions and work with my team to improve.”
Give an example of a successful team experience you have had. What was your role and what did you contribute to the team?
When the hiring manager asks you to describe a successful team experience, they want to get a sense of your ability to collaborate with others and contribute to team success.
As a candidate for a role at Potbelly, demonstrating your teamwork skills is essential. We know from experience that Potbelly values candidates who can thrive in a fast-paced, team-oriented environment.
To prepare for this question, think of an example team experience where you played an integral role in achieving a goal or overcoming an obstacle. Focus on how your specific actions and contributions led to the success of the team.
Think of a team win you helped make happen. Come on, you know you’ve got at least one! Dig deep and find an example where you played a key role in achieving a goal or powering through an obstacle together. Once you’ve got your example, focus on how your specific actions led to your team’s success. Numbers, details, results—bring the vivid vision to life for your interviewer!
Do you see yourself as a leader? Tell me about a time you took on a leadership role.
The interviewer wants to know if you have the potential to take on more responsibility over time. Do you see yourself as someone who can motivate and inspire others? Can you think strategically and come up with innovative solutions?
When this question comes up, you’ll want to prove you’ve got what it takes. A great way is by sharing an example of a time you stepped up into a leadership role. Mention a specific time you took the initiative, discuss the actions and impact, and tie it back to the role you’re interviewing for.
To illustrate, here’s an example response:
This answer checks all the boxes. You prove you have leadership ability, share a compelling story demonstrating key qualities like decisiveness and teamwork, and express genuine passion for the role.
Questions to Ask the Interviewer in Potbelly Interview
When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, they’re trying to gain insight into your level of interest and enthusiasm.
Asking thoughtful questions demonstrates your curiosity, passion for the work, and desire to learn. It also gives you a chance to make sure the role and company culture are the right fit for your needs and priorities.
To make the most of this opportunity, you’ll want to go in with a list of questions ready. Here are some options to consider asking your Potbelly interviewer:
- What does success look like in this role?
- Could you elaborate more on Potbelly’s values and how they are manifested in day-to-day work?
- How does the shop manage health and safety standards, and what role do associates play in maintaining these standards?
- Can you tell me more about the training process and how employees are taught the Potbelly recipe manual standards?
- How are tasks divided among team members during peak hours?
- How does the team handle customer complaints/issues, and how are associates trained to deal with them?
- What kind of challenges might I expect in this role, and how does the company support its associates in handling these challenges?
- How is performance measured for this role, especially in terms of speed and accuracy of fulfilling orders?
- How does Potbelly respond to food safety issues, should they arise? What procedures are in place?
- Could you describe a typical day for someone in this role at Potbelly, including how often one might need to operate in multiple stations?
- How does Potbelly balance creating a friendly, welcoming environment with the need for speed and efficiency in customer service?
- What are the key priorities you’d want me to focus on in the first 3 months?
- What qualities do your top employees share?
- What opportunities exist for growth or advancement?
- What is the next step in the interview process?
Potbelly Hiring Process
Here’s what you can expect in Potbelly’s hiring process:
The first step is to submit an application either online, in person, or at a job fair.
After applying, if selected, you’ll first go through a casual phone or in-person interview with a manager. They want to get to know your personality and see if you’ll be a good fit for their team. Be your friendly self! These initial conversations are meant to be relaxed and engaging.
For some roles, a follow-up group interview or interview with a higher-level manager may take place. Don’t be intimidated, just focus on connecting with everyone in the room. The questions will be similar, so stick to the experiences and traits that make you a strong candidate.
In the running for a leadership position? You’ll talk to key decision-makers, including at their corporate office. Multiple in-depth interviews are par for the course. Come prepared to discuss your relevant experience and management style.
Certain candidates get the chance to do an “In Job Preview” where you’ll work a trial day. This is your time to shine and show them what you’re made of! Give it your all – they’re evaluating your potential.
If you’re offered a position, you’ll do a background check and any other necessary paperwork. Once complete, the job is yours! You’ll start training, mostly on-the-job, to prepare for your new role.
Potbelly’s hiring process is meant to be a friendly, engaging experience, just like their brand. Go in with confidence, share your authentic self, and you’ll do great.
Potbelly Interview Tips
Potbelly seeks friendly, energetic candidates who are passionate about customer service. In your interview, smile, make eye contact, and speak genuinely about why you’re excited about the opportunity. Share stories of times you delivered amazing experiences for customers or worked well with teammates. Don’t be afraid to let your friendly personality shine through.
What to Wear to Potbelly Interview
One of the best ways to make a great first impression in your Potbelly interview is by dressing the part. By aligning your attire with the company’s dress code, you’ll not only look the part but also demonstrate your understanding of the Potbelly culture.
The dress code at Potbelly includes a company-provided t-shirt, hat, and apron, worn with blue jeans or khaki pants and close-toed shoes. Tattoos are allowed, but facial piercings are not. Long hair must be worn up for hygiene and safety.
With this in mind, let’s explore the ideal interview attire for various roles at Potbelly.
For Restaurant Team Member and Sandwich Artist positions, you can opt for casual or business casual attire. A nice pair of jeans or khakis, paired with a clean, well-fitting shirt or blouse, will do the trick. Make sure your shoes are clean and comfortable, and avoid any overly flashy or distracting accessories. Remember, you want to showcase your professionalism while still fitting in with the laid-back Potbelly vibe.
For Restaurant Shift Leader and Restaurant General Manager roles, it’s time to step up your wardrobe game. Business casual is the way to go. Think tailored slacks or a skirt, paired with a button-down shirt or blouse. A blazer or sweater can add a touch of polish, and don’t forget to wear closed-toe, slip-resistant shoes. Your goal is to strike a balance between looking professional and approachable.
For corporate roles, it’s time to bring out the business formal attire. A well-fitted suit or a conservative dress with a blazer will make a strong impression. Opt for neutral colors like black, navy, or gray, and keep your accessories minimal and tasteful. Finish off your look with polished, closed-toe shoes, and you’ll be ready to conquer that interview.
You have now gained valuable insight into the types of questions Potbelly values in their interview process and how to thoughtfully prepare your responses. With the right preparation and persistence, you will land an interview and have the confidence to authentically share your experience and enthusiasm.
Though it’s exciting to get an interview at a place you’re eager to work, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Consider applying to similar customer-centric, casual sandwich chains where your skills and passion for great service would be appreciated. Places like Firehouse Subs, Which Wich, Jimmy John’s, Subway, Jersey Mike’s, and Capriotti’s would be lucky to have you on their team.
Don’t get discouraged if the timing isn’t right for Potbelly. Stay optimistic, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and the right opportunity at the right company will present itself. You’ve got this!
Preparation plus persistence is the recipe for success. Keep your head high, believe in yourself, and stay focused on your goals. The job you’re meant to have is out there, so keep searching and don’t give up. Your perfect career is waiting for you!