Panda Express Careers and Job Application Guide

If you’re looking for careers in the restaurant industry, Panda Express has much to offer in terms of positions, benefits, and room for advancement. 

As a customer myself, I enjoy visiting this fast food Chinese cuisine restaurant when I need a quick delicious meal for myself or my family. The moment I walk into this establishment, the aroma of this Chinese food makes my mouth water.

The most impressive part of the experience is watching the team members work together to serve you your choice of food as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It’s obvious the employees work very hard and are very dedicated.

Working at Panda Express

Panda Express gets good reviews from its present and past workers. They rate the hourly compensation as being pretty good and give high marks for the working culture as well as the job security and advancement.

The pros and cons described by employees are as follows:

Pros

  • Employees are treated fairly by management
  • Full and part-time associates get paid sick leave
  • Schedules are very flexible
  • Team members work together as a family
  • Many hourly employees say the pay is fair
  • It’s a great job for college students because management is encouraging and very flexible with your schedule
  • Employees say the company treats its workers with respect 
  • Some locations give their employees free food

Cons

  • It can be a very stressful job due to the high volume of customers
  • Some managers need to do a better job training their new employees
  • You sometimes have to work very long hours
  • The job requires you to be on your feet throughout your whole shift
  • Some stores are constantly understaffed

Panda Express Careers Available

Careers available at the restaurants begin with the service team and kitchen staff. Service team members work as:

  • Cashiers
  • Counter or lead counter
  • Front or Back End Associates
  • Servers
  • Team Leaders

The kitchen team consists of cooks, prep cooks, kitchen helpers, dishwashers, line cooks, and head cooks.

There are also various management positions that are essential for the daily management and profitability of each store. These positions are:

  • Assistant Manager
  • Manager
  • Training Leader
  • Multi-Unit Manager
  • Area Coach of Operations
  • Regional Director of Operations

Panda Express Hiring

Many younger workers are constantly wondering if there is a Panda hiring in their neighborhood. This can easily be answered by using one of two methods:

  • You can visit the location that’s nearest to you and introduce yourself to any team member or manager. Then, politely ask if there are any job openings available.
  • Go online to the official careers website and use the information from this Panda Careers and Application Guide to help you find any openings in your area.

Panda Express Careers Available

Careers available at the restaurants begin with the service team and kitchen staff. Service team members work as:

  • Cashiers
  • Counter or lead counter
  • Front or Back End Associates
  • Servers
  • Team Leaders

The kitchen team consists of cooks, prep cooks, kitchen helpers, dishwashers, line cooks, and head cooks.

There are also various management positions that are essential for the daily management and profitability of each store. These positions are:

  • Assistant Manager
  • Manager
  • Training Leader
  • Multi-Unit Manager
  • Area Coach of Operations
  • Regional Director of Operations

Panda Express Team Member

This is an entry-level team member position where you will be working the front of the restaurant, serving foods and ringing up purchases.

You will be expected to be exceptionally friendly to all the guests. This will ensure that they feel comfortable ordering your foods and have a pleasant dining experience. 

You’ll have to know the menu so you can answer questions from customers efficiently. Once you are familiar with the menu, you will be able to make recommendations and create upsells for customers, maximizing the profitability of your store.

The minimum qualifications for this position are that you should have completed some high school, and it’s preferable to have some type of experience in the foodservice industry.

Panda Express Cashier

As a cashier for Panda, you will be helping out at the counter and shuttling back-and-forth to the cashier register to ring up purchases. If you don’t have any experience, don’t worry. Panda provides an excellent training program to help you master this job. 

When you are hired as a cashier at this fast-food chain, you are expected to be taking orders from customers, serving them the food, and moving them along quickly to the checkout counter so they can buy their food as either dine-in or takeout.

The minimum qualifications are exactly that of a team member as described above.

Panda Express Kitchen Team

By joining Panda as part of the kitchen team, you will be completely in charge of providing fresh-cooked food for your customers. 

If you are assigned to cooking duties, you’ll be using a steamer, deep fryer, and grill to prepare hot foods. You’ll have to make sure your area is maintained according to operational standards.

This means that aside from cooking duties, you will be cleaning your cooking area and you’ll learn how to use certain cleaning chemicals.

For this position, it’s preferable to have some type of food service experience. The job also requires at least some high school. This means you should have already completed at least 10th grade.

The work environment is going to consist of a hot kitchen with a fairly high noise level. Your work area will be quite warm due to the steam table and heat emanating from the constant cooking.

Shift Leader

As a shift leader for Panda, you’ll be making out employee schedules and dealing with employees who don’t show up for work. Other responsibilities include helping and motivating your team members so that the store runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Your job is also to inform your management staff of any difficulties beyond your control that may arise during any shift.

This position is the stepping stone to the assistant management or manager position at Panda Express. This means you will be expected to perform some of the daily functions of your managers.

The requirements are the same as for team members. Shift leaders are usually promoted from within after they have proven themselves to be great team members.

Panda Express Manager Jobs

At every location, there is an assistant manager and manager. Training leaders are the ones who assume responsibility for training people who are about to become part of the management team.

Panda Express Assistant Manager

Assistant managers at Panda are the ones who are responsible for the day-to-day operations. You will be under the guidance of your manager as you help train and develop your new team members and help them deliver exceptional customer service.

Your job is also to make sure that the food is of excellent quality and that safety standards are maintained throughout your location.

In this position, you are also expected to lead your store in financial growth by monitoring cost management. When it comes to hiring new staff members, your manager may place you in complete charge or at the very least, as an assistant in selecting the best candidates.

You are required to have at least a high school diploma or GED for this position. It’s helpful but not necessary to have previous experience in food service management and a college degree.

Panda Express Manager

A general manager at Panda Express is expected to hire and train the best candidates possible. This is a job where you have to have a keen eye for selecting the most talented individuals that can grow with the company.

As the person completely in charge of and responsible for your store, it is up to you to make sure your store continually grows its profitability. You can do this by delegating responsibilities to all of your team members as well as your assistant manager and monitoring daily results.

The minimum requirements are a high school diploma or GED. It’s preferable if you have an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree and at least one or two years of food service management experience.

Panda Express Training Leader

Training leaders should know the Panda Express business inside and out. This position is all about being able to recruit and train soon-to-be assistant managers and general managers.

You’ll also work closely with team members in order to be able to promote some of them to the shift leader position. Basically, the responsibility that comes with this position has everything to do with getting all personnel ready for their new position, oftentimes as a result of an employee’s promotion.

The minimum qualifications are the same as the Panda Express general managers. 

Corporate Jobs

Panda has a support center located in Rosemead, CA. You can choose one of the career paths from the following:

  • Human Resources
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Strategy and Tax
  • Accounting
  • Information Systems
  • Real Estate
  • Supply Chain Management
  • … and more

How to Apply at Panda Express

In order to apply at Panda, you must do so online. Here are the steps you can take:

  1. Visit the official Panda Express careers website.
  2. Take a look at the different pages by clicking on the top navigation bar.
  3. At any time, you can click the red “Apply Now“ button.
  4. Scroll down and choose either restaurant team member, restaurant manager, or corporate opportunities by clicking the “Learn More“ button.
  5. Follow the links to begin searching for jobs in your area.
  6. Once you have read the job description, click on the “Apply for Job“ button.
  7. On the redirected page, you need to click “I Accept” for the privacy agreement.
  8. Next, apply for a “New User” account and begin your Panda Express job application process.

Panda Express Hiring Process

You usually receive a call back from hiring personnel within the first week after you apply online. You’ll be scheduled for an interview and this can take place either with the general manager or assistant manager, or both. 

For some applicants, you can expect to have two interviews. The next step in the process is to have a background check completed and if everything works out well, you should be hired within the first 2 weeks after you apply online.

If you don’t get a call back within the first week after applying, call the store you applied to. Ask to speak with the manager and if you are not able to, leave your name and your phone number so that you may be contacted.

If you don’t receive a call back within the first week after you leave your number, visit the store in person.

Panda Express Hiring Age

16 years of age is the minimum to be able to work at Panda Express. 16 and 17-year-olds can expect to work as team members at the front end of the store.

Keep in mind this is a very fast-paced and stressful job. Therefore, this may not be the ideal job for someone very serious about their academics. 

Some employees say this job can sometimes be grueling to the point of exhaustion due to the many customers that walk through the doors.

Does Panda Express hire felons?

While some employees say this company does hire felons, others say they do not. Some say that as long as you are honest and upfront on your Panda Express application and with your hiring manager, you have a good chance to get hired as long as the conviction isn’t one that can be construed as potentially affecting employees or customers. 

If you are in doubt, ask yourself these questions:

  • How long ago was I convicted of this crime?
  • If I were a manager, would I hire myself knowing that I had committed this type of crime?

Does Panda Express drug test?

Some stores drug test their new employees and some don’t. Many employees stress that this fast-food chain does not drug test its new hires as a condition of employment.

However, there is no way to tell for sure until you apply and go through the process. Regardless, this company will drug test you if you are either injured on the job or have an accident that is job-related. 

Panda Express History

Andrew and Peggy Cherng along with Andrew’s father opened their first store in 1973 in Pasadena, CA. Back then, the store was known as the Panda Inn Restaurant.

In 1983, the Cherngs opened up their first fast-food Panda Inn at a food court in the Glendale Galleria Mall located in Glendale, CA.

That same year, the first Panda Express was opened and within a few years, these fast-food restaurants were located at many food courts located in United States shopping malls.

This company now has over 2,200 locations worldwide and employees over 39,000 people.

Benefits

Panda calls their benefits plan the “Total Rewards Package.” 

They offer:

  • Health insurance
  • Competitive pay for every position
  • Bonuses for all associates
  • Stock options
  • 401(k) plans that match up to 4%
  • Many discounts including all panda restaurant group restaurants
  • A scholarship program for qualified associates that covers 80% tuition up to $2,500 per year
  • Paid time off, holidays, sick leave, and bereavement time
  • Life insurance
  • Short and long-term disability
  • Cancer protection

Final Thoughts

When you walk into Panda Express either at lunchtime or dinner time, it’s easy to see how this fast-food chain is so successful. In some stores, the waiting line to order food is almost out the door.

This is both good and bad if you’re hoping to land an entry-level hourly position as a team member because you will be working very hard during peak times and this has the potential to stress you out.

At the same time, you’re going to be learning how to handle customers and provide the best service possible. Therefore, in my opinion, working at this fast-food chain is like getting thrown into the fire and gaining great experience in the foodservice industry in a very short amount of time.

This job is not for people who are a little out of shape and struggle with staying on their feet for long periods of time. It’s for people who are motivated and energetic and can withstand the pressures of nonstop hungry customers looking for great food and exceptional service.

Panda Express also offers excellent benefits according to present and past employees.

The company also gives people a great chance to advance within their system to a management position. Therefore, college students or grads can easily find a home here starting out as a team member or assistant manager, then as a general manager, and beyond.

An entry-level job here is not cut out for middle-aged workers who are a little out of shape. If you are a retiree, unless you are in great shape, you will have a hard time keeping up with the daily demands of running back-and-forth as a team member or as a cook in a very hot kitchen.

All in all, an entry-level job at Panda Express is perfect for somebody who is not afraid to work hard and move up the ladder of success in a fairly short amount of time.

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