Interviews are crucial in retail, partly because success depends on nuance and subtlety, the finer points of marketing and brand management. Those who are best poised to thrive in retail are those who are tuned into the needs of others and who understand the almost imperceptible details that make a potential customer choose one product over another.
Sometimes these qualities don't shine through on paper the way they do in a face-to-face conversation. As you head into your retail interview, here are few things you may be asked and some of the qualities your interviewer will probably be looking for.
The Retail Interview: Entry Level
At the entry level, your interviewer will be looking for evidence of social poise and the kind of relaxed, alert demeanor that makes others feel comfortable. So smile. Don't err on the side of robotic, businesslike determination. Be friendly, be open and get ready for questions like these:
- If you've had a retail job in the past, what kinds of things did your customers tend to ask of you? What strategies did you use to meet their needs?
- Are you a problem solver? Describe a time when you were presented with a difficult problem that you had to resolve on your own. What did you do?
- Can you work quickly and efficiently without making mistakes? Can you stay sociable and accessible while you're doing this?
Treat each question as an opportunity to demonstrate your perseverance and positive attitude when it comes to interacting with strangers and finding ways to meet their needs. Make sure your interviewer sees you as someone who will pay close attention to detail, who will have the empathy and social skills to think like a customer and who will put the needs of the customers and the company ahead of her own when she's on the clock. Visit LiveCareer for more sample questions and interview practice.
The Retail Interview: Management Level
During a retail interview at the management level, your hiring manager will assess your ability to:
- Maintain order and handle a crisis
- Boost sales while keeping expenses under control
- Bring out the best in employees
As you speak with your interviewer, present yourself as a confident leader and someone who cares as much about the success of her company as the CEO does. Be ready to answer questions like these:
- Describe an employee behavior problem, scheduling problem or training obstacle you encountered in a previous position. How did you approach the issue and what were the results?
- What kinds of qualities do you look for in entry-level retail employees? What will you do to help your employees reach out, upsell and make purchasing recommendations?
- Describe your experience with the target audience for this company's product or brand. How will you approach these kinds of customers and what methods will you use to meet their needs?
Regardless of the specific position, it's always a good idea to think carefully about the product, the company culture and the company's target customer audience the day before your interview is scheduled. Spend some time reviewing the retail articles on LiveCareer.com for more help, including industry specific tips and resume advice.