Kohl's Holiday Hiring: Part-Time Job Opportunities Or More Lousy Retail Work?

Large retailers are gearing up to hire throngs of seasonal workers to help with the increased customer traffic many expect for the holidays. They include Kohl's Corp., the nation's third-largest retailer, which plans to fill nearly 52,700 seasonal jobs at its 1,134 stores, as well as at its distribution centers and credit operations in preparation for the winter holidays.

But the Wisconsin-based company, which has aggressively expanded in recent years, is also looking to hire some 1,500 workers in 10 states where it plans to open a dozen new stores this fall. Three of the new stores will be in Connecticut, Kohl's said, while Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington will see one each.


Kohl's says those hired for seasonal jobs can expect to work "anywhere from a few hours to more than 20 hours per week." Store jobs typically include stocking and operating cash registers, as well as unloading trucks and processing freight. The company began hiring for these jobs this month and expects to have most of them filled by mid-November, it says, adding that it began adding workers at its distribution centers in August. (You can apply online at KohlsCareers.com or start your search here.)

Kohl's declined our request to talk about its process of interviewing prospective employees, as well as what it's like to work at the company. But a sampling of responses posted on Glassdoor offers some insights.

When it comes to interviewing, Glassdoor reviewers said there are few surprises. Some described a group interview process, at the end of which the most likely candidates were asked to stay behind. A candidate for a point-of-sale associate position, or cashier, interviewed in Lafayette, Ind., last April explained the process a bit more:

"They ask questions to the whole group and you take turns answering each one. After the questions, they'll step outside and talk, once they come back in, if they let you leave, you were not hired ... if you stay, you were hired. No call backs, if you make it through the interview, you're hired."

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The applicant also described the questions asked as "basic." A sampling of responses from other Glassdoor respondents who interviewed at Kohl's bear that out, as these examples show:

  • Tell me about a time you made a bad decision and what happened.
  • What do you feel is your most detrimental quality, and what steps would you take to ensure that it does not interfere with your work?
  • What did you like most about [your most recent] job?
  • What type of animal would you be?
  • Describe a time when you went above and beyond for someone at work or school and how did they react?
  • If a customer came up to you with a question about a department or product you didn't know much about, what would you do?

Once you're hired, what's it like to work at Kohl's? As with many retail jobs, there's no shortage of grousing about low pay and lack of advancement, at least among those who've posted comments on CareerBliss. The average score of 70 reviews posted at the job-information website by people who say they work at Kohl's was 3.35 out of possible 5 -- a middling score.

Insufficient raises and lack of managerial resources were two concerns noted by a CareerBliss contributor who reportedly worked as a cashier when the review was written last March. Here's some of what the cashier wrote: "I think I work very hard for Kohl's but there is little to no appreciation for it, and it makes me question why I work hard at all."

Another reviewer, who is described as a "shoe associate" had a different take, giving the company a perfect score. The commenter wrote that Kohl's was a "great place to work" and that managers do a "great job," adding, "I like the culture, the people, the environment, and the opportunity to learn about how the retail business works."

On the other end of the scale, another contributor, who rated the company 1 out of 5, said, "There is absolutely nothing I like about working at Kohl's." Among reasons given for the poor score, the reviewer said that managers fail to listen to employees and the pay is so low as to be degrading for the amount work that is expected. Further, the commenter wrote that management should make employee relations a top priority. "If the employees are not happy, then that filters down the line to the customers."

On Glassdoor, several reviewers complained about having to deal with rude customers, including an entry from "POS Associate in Fremont, CA," who claimed that Kohl's corporate policies "make customers think that they can be rude, lie, cheat and steal, and that customer service associates must still bend over backwards to make them happy."

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Jobs in retail typically offer modest wages, and that's true also of Kohl's for some positions. According to Glassdoor, retail sales associates earn an average hourly wage of $8.01, based on 142 responses, though assistant store managers, with an average annual salary of $49,435, based on 52 reviews, do earn a good deal more.

Of course, many job seekers are also looking for benefits. Kohl's offers full-time employees comprehensive medical, dental and vision benefits, as well as a long-term disability plan, according to its website. The company also offers a "special" medical, dental and vision benefit for part-timers, though details weren't available.

Employees are also entitled to an immediate merchandise discount at all stores, paid holidays, and health-care and child-care spending plans that allow workers to pay for those services with pre-tax dollars. Kohl's also offers staff a matching 401(k) retirement savings and employee stock ownership plans.

Working in retail isn't for everyone. As Kohl's itself notes, it's looking for people with good attention to detail who are able to multitask. Further, it says, many of the jobs can be physically demanding, requiring employees to stand for periods at a time, as well as lift and carry merchandise.

But if you're looking for a seasonal job, you could do worse. As one reviewer wrote on jobitorial.com: The benefits for a part time employee aren't spectacular, but they are d*** sure better than having none at all."

Further, the contributor from Florida said, "I personally love this company, whether the customers are great or horrible. They pay our paychecks and that is what matters."

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