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Retail Interview Questions and Answers

Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Common Retail Interview Questions with Answers

Sales Associate Interview Questions

  1. Describe a time when a customer wasn't happy. What did you do to fix it?

  2. Do you have any prior experience in the field of sales and customer service?

  3. Describe a situation where you negotiated terms with a tough customer.

  4. What do you know about the products and or services we offer our customers?

  5. How do you typically like to engage a customer?

Continue: View All 32 Sales Associate Interview Questions

Assistant Manager Interview Questions

  1. Name an area you believe you could improve on as an Assistant Manager.

  2. What do your team members think of you as an Assistant Manager?

  3. Tell me about a time you provided honest feedback to a team member.

  4. What qualifies you to become our Assistant Manager?

  5. Do you have flexibility in your work schedule? How often do you pick up shifts to help your team?

Continue: View All 30 Assistant Manager Interview Questions

Manager Interview Questions

  1. How do you determine if your team is successful?

  2. What has been your favorite management role so far? What made it so enjoyable?

  3. Tell me about a cost-cutting initiative you created at your last position. Was it effective?

  4. Describe how you like to train new employees.

  5. Do you have experience in corrective discipline and terminations?

Continue: View All 30 Manager Interview Questions

Customer Service Manager Interview Questions

  1. How do you go about requesting feedback from your customers?

  2. What is your favorite management tool, and how does it help you to achieve your goals?

  3. How do you define good customer service?

  4. How do you feel about saying 'no' to a customer with unreasonable requests?

  5. What will you do if an employee is not meeting their goals?

Continue: View All 30 Customer Service Manager Interview Questions

Cashier Interview Questions

  1. What cash handling experience do you have?

  2. Our store is non-stop ringing customers out, can you keep up in a fast paced environment for 4 hours without a break?

  3. What past experiences do you have that demonstrate your ability to work as a cashier?

  4. How will you stay composed if an angry customer wants to return a product but does not realize there is a return cashier for just that purpose?

  5. Here is a scenario question, If a customer asks for a discount on a gallon of milk, what do you tell them?

Continue: View All 26 Cashier Interview Questions

District Manager Interview Questions

  1. As our District Manager, you will oversee multiple stores across a broad region. How will you approach managing such a large area?

  2. Walk us through your work history with a specific focus on your leadership and management experience.

  3. We seek to hire individuals of an entrepreneurial nature. Tell us about how you embody an entrepreneurial mindset in your current position.

  4. Discuss your least favorite sales approach, and why you find it to be ineffective.

  5. Discuss the most successful sales technique you have introduced to your current teams.

  6. Tell us about a time when you had to motivate an underperforming team. What was your approach, and what were your results?

  7. Talk about the most prominent struggle you face in your current position. What have you done to alleviate or repair the situation?

Continue: View All 30 District Manager Interview Questions

Position Summary

A retail employee usually works in a physical brick-and-mortar store. Retail stores offer goods for sale related to fashion, personal care, food, electronics, furniture, pet care, household goods, and more. Retail associates are often the face of the business, giving customers the very first impression.

Many retail associates get paid on a salary or hourly basis, with others working on a 100% commission basis or a blend of a base salary plus commission. Some retail associates have specialized knowledge. For instance, retail employees for Apple often have expertise in technology and computer science.

What are a retail professional’s responsibilities?

  • Acknowledging customers and lending them a hand.
  • Offering knowledge of products and services.
  • Dealing with customer disputes.
  • Selling, cross-selling, and upselling products and services.
  • Ensuring the store is clean, orderly and shelves are well-stocked.
  • Check customers out using the Point-of-Sale (POS) system.
  • Help customers who want to make exchanges or returns.
  • Remain educated on store products or services.
  • Accepting new inventory deliveries.
  • Visual merchandising.

Retail specialties to explore:

  • Apparel/Accessories/Fashion
  • Books/Education
  • Cinema/Entertainment
  • Department Stores
  • Electronics/Computers/Mobile Phones
  • Fine Jewelry
  • Footwear
  • Gifts/Stationary
  • Health/Beauty/Personal Care
  • Home Furnishings/Housewares/Decor
  • Pet Care
  • Pharmacy/Drug Store/Health Services
  • Specialty Food
  • Sporting Goods/Athletics
  • Supermarkets/Food and Beverage
  • Toys/Hobbies

How do I get an entry-level retail job?

Most entry-level retail jobs do not require any post-secondary education. Many retailers employ high-school students to work part-time while they are completing their education.

1) Research how retail works. There are helpful resources on YouTube.

2) Read the glossary of terms below and do more independent research.

3) Ask a friend who works in retail to describe their job and responsibilities. Then, learn what you need to fill in any gaps in your knowledge.

4) Learn about inventory and how inventory management works.

5) Teach yourself a bit about the importance of visual merchandising.

6) Read a book about customer service and customer dispute resolution.

7) Brush up on your basic math skills.

8) Watch a YouTube tutorial on using a POS and debit/credit machine.

9) Prepare a 1-page resume. If you don’t have work experience, you can include team sports, volunteer work, or other activities that require dedication, responsibility, and teamwork.

10) Find a reliable reference who will speak highly on your behalf. This reference could include a teacher, coach, or pastor.

11) Apply to entry-level positions with retailers that you know hire employees without experience. These retailers could include grocery stores or seasonal opportunities for busy stores that need help around a particular holiday season.

How do I get a mid-level retail job?

If you have the foundation of an entry-level position and you want to move up in your career (for instance, land a sales or supervisor position), consider doing the following:

1) Track your efforts, achievements, and results and add them to your resume.

2) Offer to take on additional responsibilities.

3) Find a mentor who is a few steps ahead of you in your career and learn from them.

4) Teach yourself about retail KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and other essential metrics.

5) Work on your skills, including sales, customer service, dispute resolution, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

How do I get a management-level retail job?

Once you are ready to flourish in a retail career, you can set yourself up for success in various ways, including:

1) Learn the bigger picture of retail, including supply chain, inventory management, and the buying process.

2) Take courses, workshops, and read books related to people management.

3) Continue perfecting your customer service and dispute resolution skills.

4) Learn the art of hiring, training, and onboarding employees.

5) Engage with a mentor whose career path and approach you admire.

6) Consider branding yourself professionally online and offline.

What are some basic retail terms I should know for my interview?

Average Transaction Size: Also called an ATS, this metric refers to the amount of money each customer spends, on average, in a single transaction.

Cost of Goods Sold: Often referred to as COGS, this term describes the total cost of items sold across a specific time period. COGS helps a retailer to calculate the rate of their inventory turnover.

CRM System: Short for Customer Relationship Management System. A CRM is a platform hosted online or in the cloud that a retailer uses to track their customers’ email and other information, purchase history, preferences, and more.

Deadstock: Think of out-of-season holiday decorations! Deadstock can result from seasons changing, or it can be a result of a trend dying. Retailers will often get rid of their deadstock with blow-out sales. Deadstock, although expected, is not a positive factor and is often a result of poor stock-level planning.

Flash Sale: A flash sale is a limited-time sale offering a significant discount. One example of a flash sale is Best Buy offering a particular TV brand on sale for 40% off. Flash sales typically last only a day or two or until the product sells out.

FIFO: A common term in retail, FIFO is an acronym for ‘First In, First Out.’ Grocery stores and other food retailers use FIFO to manage inventory and avoid stock from spoiling before it sells.

Loss Leader: A loss leader is an item sold at such a low price that the retailer loses money. This sales tactic works to attract customers who buy the loss leader but then purchase other profitable items once they are in the store.

Merchandising: The term merchandising refers to how a store displays its products. Many retailers hire professional merchandisers to make sure their displays are attractive to customers.

Point of Sale: A point of sale system, or POS, is the software used at the checkout process. A Point of Sale system allows retail employees to check customers out, take payment, and record each transaction’s details.

Relationship Retailing: Retailers use marketing strategies under the umbrella of ‘relationship retailing’ to build deeper relationships with their customers. These strategies may include loyalty programs and other customer experiences.

SKU: Stock-Keeping-Unit or SKU for short are the digits used to track inventory and identify different products.

Units Per Transaction: In short, UPT is a metric that tracks how many items are sold in every single transaction.

How many interviews should I expect?

The number of interviews you have may depend on the level of the position for which you are applying.

As an example, a cashier or retail associate applicant may have only one or two interviews. Sometimes retail applicants are even offered a job on the spot at their first interview!

On the other hand, a store manager applicant might go through three or more interviews and a more detailed interview process, including reference and background checks.

What is the interview process like for a retail professional?

When interviewing for a retail position, depending on your level of experience (entry-level, mid-career, or management), you can expect anything from a brief to a thorough and detailed interview process.

After you apply, the interview process may include:

- A brief pre-screen phone call.
- An in-depth first interview.
- An in-depth second interview.
- Subsequent interviews. A retail management position may require your participation in multiple job interviews and even some time job shadowing.

Once you reach the final interview stage, the hiring company will contact your employment references. They may also conduct pre-employment background checks and other steps such as education verification. The last stage of the process is the job offer and negotiation stage.

An aspiring retail professional should expect to answer customer-service interview questions highlighting their depth of experience working with the public.

They should also be prepared to demonstrate an understanding of teamwork and sales.

If interviewing for a retailer with high-end or sensitive goods (luxury, jewelry, cannabis), expect to go through a background check.

What should I wear to my retail interview?

Try matching your attire to the clothing that you see other retails associates wearing inside this specific retail store.

For instance, if you are interviewing at a fashion store that you also buy your clothes from, it’s a great idea to wear an outfit from this particular store or brand.

If you apply for a retail job at a jeweler in the mall, consider ramping up your wardrobe to business casual or a relaxed suit. If you are not sure of the wardrobe expectations, go to the retail store and look for clues based on their current employees’ attire.

What are some retail career path options?

  • Assistant Manager
  • Cashier
  • Customer Service Manager
  • Floor Manager
  • General Manager
  • Merchandiser/Visual Merchandiser
  • Regional Manager
  • Retail Buyer
  • Sales Associate
  • Sales Manager
  • Store Manager
  • Store Stocker
  • Wholesale Buyer

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