How to Get Hired at Subway
So You Want to Make $5 Footlongs for a Living?
Perhaps the idea of standing side-by-side with other smiling sandwich artists, quickly tossing together delicious lunches, doesn't exactly entice you. But hey, a job is a job! You're not the only one with the same idea; tons of people are constantly turning in their applications to these popular chain stores. To secure the job, you must stand out.
Lucky for you, I have spoken with the ex-manager of a San Diego Subway who has given me the scoop on how to get hired—from the application process all the way to the interview.
How to Apply
When Haley noticed the new Subway shop opening up right near her home, she knew she wanted to apply. At only seventeen, and with little job experience, she was worried that she wouldn’t get the gig, especially since the new store would be attracting a lot of applicants. Thankfully, her father suggested something that won her the job. He told her to place her resume and application in a brown envelope, seal it up, and head down to the shop with a pen in hand. He told her to go to whoever was at the register and say, “Excuse me, what's the name of your general manager?” She then penned this name on the front of the envelope and handed it to the employee, asking if they would please give this to the manager.
The employee had no idea Haley had sealed her application and resume inside of the brown envelope. A resume is not top priority when so many are dropped off, but a sealed envelope with the manager's name on it is; the moment he comes into the store they are going to give it to him.
Haley was hired and eventually promoted to manager herself. As a manager, Haley came to appreciate just how clever this envelope move had been. Because so many applications come in every day, many get lost or misplaced or even thrown away. Also, managers constantly hear about friends or distant relatives in need of a job—especially in this job market. Naturally, managers are more inclined to hire someone they know, unless you can get evidence to them that you will make their job easier.
Conquer the Interview
It's important to keep in mind that Subway is a franchise, meaning different individuals own each location. While stores have requirements to ensure they are clones of one another in most respects, the interview process is largely up to the owner's and manager's discretion.
When she was a manager conducting interviews, Haley decided that one of the biggest mistakes applicants can make is not having an answer for every question. Even simple questions like "When are you available to work?" would trip some applicants up—a clear sign that they were unprepared for the job.
“No matter what, even if you say ‘I don’t know…’ at first, go into some sort of an answer!” Haley stresses. Otherwise, she goes on to explain, it looks like either you don’t think on your feet or you don’t care enough about the job. "Not a good sign," she says, especially considering how little time most stores have set aside for training new employees—they need people who catch on quick, can think on their toes, and are ready for anything.
Many, many times, Haley's store got busy and the only other employee was a new hire in training. If she'd made a good hire they could help out a lot, but a slow learner only made chaos, as angry customers stood waiting, tapping their feet with impatience. Managers are most attracted to smart, competent individuals, and you can prove you are one by answering all interview questions well.
How to Dress
When managers sit through endless interviews, people start to blend together. So make sure and stand out. Wear a bright-colored shirt or a pretty hair clip, something that will stick out in the manager's memory.
But beware of dressing up too much. This isn’t an office job. Come looking like you are prepared for casual employment. In other words, no need to bust out your suit or slip into a black dress. Even jeans are acceptable with a nice top and shoes.
Considering this is a job in food service, sanitation is of top importance. Make sure to be clean and neat, have a recent haircut and clean nails, and smell nice!
How to Act
"Even if you are shy, pretend you are not." This is Haley's advice, even though this sounds impossible to many, especially in a job interview. And if you have any hint of an attitude, leave it at home.
There aren't many credentials needed to work at Subway. Hiring is based on experience to a degree, but even more on personality. Personality is important not just for customer service, but also because the hiring manager knows they will be spending a lot of time behind that sandwich counter with you. If you come off as having no personality, or even worse, a disagreeable personality, the future isn't looking too bright.
Subway isn't a high-excitement job. Any entertainment will have to be created by your family of coworkers. To make work more bearable, it’s nice to have cool people around—so try your best to be personable, friendly, and outgoing! Think of it as not just applying for a job, but for a friendship as well.
Another reason managers want to know you as a person is that unfortunately there is a lot of theft in the food industry, and they wonder if you are the type of person who would get involved in it. They might ask, "Do you take care of someone else?" "Have you been participating in the same sport for the last five years?" Activities like this show you are real: a person who is reliable, stable, and has follow-through. But be careful of sounding too busy, they don't want to hire someone who is doing so many other things they don't have time for work.
Subway's "Look Policy"
If you end up being hired at Subway, here is an outline of the "'look policy'" you will be required to follow:
- Hair must be worn short or pulled back. Flyaway hairs need to be sprayed down.
- No nail polish; nails must be clipped, trimmed and clean.
- No facial piercings.
You will also be required to purchase black work pants and black shoes (Subway provides the shirts, aprons, and hats).
What About Tips?
Your store might have a tip jar, but don't get too excited. On an average day expect to bring home about $2 in tips. At Subway shops that have fewer employees tips can skyrocket to around $6 per day. This is our experience at Southern California stores; other locations may have very different numbers.
Some Warnings About Working at Safeway
- There's no glamor in being a manager. As a full-time manager, Haley received no benefits and no paid vacation, and she could never call in sick to work. If you are a manager, it's your responsibility to get every shift covered by someone, or cover it yourself regardless of how sick you are.
- Part-timers get unreliable hours. One week you might get 30 hours and the next only 13 hours.
- And as with any job in food service, you will be washing your hands way more than normal. Keep good lotion with you, because before long you might have dry and cracked fingers.
Is Working at Subway Worth it?
“Working at Subway isn’t just making sandwiches,” Haley tells me. “Employees have to be prepared to do a lot more. You become friends with your coworkers and things can get really fun!” Still, when asked how she would rate the job on a scale from 1-10, she only gives working at Subway a 3½.