Common Retail Interview Questions with Answers
1. Why would you like to work at our store?Show Answer
The interviewer wants assurance that you have a keen interest in their store. Show that you are not just applying to any store that will hire you by expressing a few reasons why you are interested in this company, specifically. Be sure to tie in why you would be an excellent fit for them!View Our Answer Example
Your reasons may include:
- Great workplace culture
- The work hours accomodate your school schedule
- You have read great reviews online
- You have had a memorable shopping experience at their store
- You know someone who works for their company
- Their mission statement resonates with you
"I have shopped at your store often, over the past couple of years. Every experience is better than the last, and so, when it came time for me to start applying for work post-graduation, your store was the first place that came to my mind. I have a true appreciation for what you do here."
2. How would your references describe you?Show Answer
You have likely given the interviewer a list of references already; however, if you have not, be sure to bring a list with you to your interview. You should provide the names of at least two people who can give you recommendations, preferably individuals to whom you have reported. If you do not have any work experience, you can also refer to professors, high-school teachers, a pastor, a mentor, or even the parent of a friend who may know you well and can provide a character reference. If you have volunteer work, you can point towards that experience as well.View Our Answer Example
Some ways that your references may describe you:
- Accepting feedback
"In my references list, I have included my three most recent managers. I believe they would all describe me as highly-driven, commission motivated, and willing to help. I put a lot of effort into teamwork, ensuring that my teammates feel supported while we work together to achieve a common goal."
3. Tell me about your experience working in retail.Show Answer
The interviewer would like for you to bring your experience to life for them. Take a few minutes to walk the interviewer through your overall experience, being sure to highlight any significant wins, your most substantial sales, or other accomplishments that will make you a stand-out candidate. There is no need for you to go more than ten years into your work history unless the experience applies to the role for which you are interviewing.View Our Answer Example
"I have five years' experience working in retail. Starting with Company ABC, I was a commissioned sales rep, always landing in the Top 3 for weekly sales numbers. For the past three years, I have worked with Company XYZ as an assistant manager. I have seen great success here; however, I am now ready to jump into a full-time store management position."
4. Describe a time when you disliked company rules in your last job.Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know how you handle a situation when you do not agree, or are uncomfortable with the rules or expectations on the job. Be sure to show that you are a team player, but will stand up for yourself if asked to do something that is unethical. If you do not agree with a rule because you don't want to play along, that is a different story. Show the interviewer that you have the maturity and wherewithal to understand you will not always agree with your boss, but you will still professionally do your job.View Our Answer Example
"My last company changed our return policy quite dramatically, and I did not agree with the changes because they did not emulate the great customer service for which we had become known. The changes were from the corporate head office and, having been there for three months; I didn't feel empowered to say anything. I followed the new rules, explained the new policies to my customers, and continued to be a reliable employee for my duration of employment."
5. How are your customer service skills?Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know that you understand the importance of fabulous customer service skills when working in the retail industry. Use a few unique words or phrases that will make you a stand-out candidate for this customer-service based role.View Our Answer Example
Some descriptive words may include:
- Problem-solving focused
"My customer service skills are well-honed as I have had a lot of training in the past. My skills are honest, attentive and geared to problem-solving."
6. A co-worker is rude to customers, what would you do?Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know how you would react if you saw one of your teammates mistreating a customer. How you answer will tell the interviewer a lot about your personality, problem-solving skills, customer service skills, and ability to handle conflict in the workplace.View Our Answer Example
"If I saw a co-worker being rude to a customer, I would approach them and make up an excuse to take over the situation. For instance, I recently saw a teammate losing her patience with a customer. I told her that the manager needed her in the stock room, and then I took over the customer issue. This approach removed her from the situation without being confrontational in front of the customer. Later, we brainstormed ways that she could have handled the situation more professionally."
7. The credit card machine is broken. What do you say to the customers?Show Answer
This question is situational-based, and the interviewer is looking to see if you have the ability to problem-solve, even in high-pressure situations. Show that you can troubleshoot while remaining helpful to others.View Our Answer Example
"If we had a broken credit card machine, I would first try to restart the system. A reboot will usually fix a point of sale quickly. If that did not work, I would call the company to see what they could do on their end. In the meantime, I would give customers options on how to pay, or ask to put their purchase on hold until the situation was worked out."
8. You are scheduled to leave at 6 pm. Your replacement worker doesn't show up. What would you do?Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know that you have no trouble when it comes to filling in, working overtime, or staying a bit late when unforeseen circumstances arise. Give an example of a time when you were a team player, offering assistance if your replacement does not show up for their shift.View Our Answer Example
"If my replacement did not show up for their shift, I would try to reach them and then find someone else who could take the shift on short notice. I am certainly willing to pull a double in extreme circumstances. Whatever is best for the company is the decision that I will make."
9. Describe a situation when you received a negative customer reaction. How did you react?Show Answer
The interviewer wants to know that you would continue to work hard to find a solution, despite receiving an adverse customer reaction. Everybody faces bad days and negative customer experiences. What is most important is the way you react to the problem. For this question, give a detailed story-based response outlining a real-life scenario that you have encountered while working in retail. If you are new to your career, you can give a hypothetical example outlining how you plan to react in this situation.View Our Answer Example
"There was a time that I had to refuse a customer's unreasonable return request due to company policy. To appease the customer, I empathized with their situation and communicated a willingness to help them find an alternative. In the end, the customer agreed to a small store credit rather than a full refund."
10. How would you define good customer service?Show Answer
When possible, research the company's values online, especially in the areas where customer service and customer experience are mentioned. In general, good customer service involves memorable experiences and the satisfactory resolution of a customer's issue. State your definition of customer service and give a brief example of a great outcome you have achieved through exceptional service.View Our Answer Example
"I agree with the statement on the company website that good customer service exceeds the customer's expectations in both quality of service and the speed that the service is delivered. Recently, I had a customer who was unhappy and was trying to get a refund. I wanted to make sure that they left our store happy with the resolution I provided. So, I made sure that the customer's concern was taken care of quickly. I apologized to them for their dissatisfaction and gave them a small gift certificate in return for the bad experience."
11. How do you deal with customer rejection?Show Answer
Being rejected by a customer can be hurtful and frustrating. The interviewer wants to know that you have the maturity, professionalism, and confidence to withstand someone saying no to you. Explain that you realize not everyone will be super friendly, warm, and buy from you right away. And that is okay! Display your maturity level and ability to let situations like this go rather than dwell on them.View Our Answer Example
"I know not to take it personally when a person doesn't want to purchase my product or service. There are many reasons why they could be saying no. Maybe the item is out of their price range, or maybe they are having a bad day and don't feel like interacting. Onto the next sales opportunity, I say!"
12. Tell me about one of your goals. How are you working towards it?Show Answer
If the interviewer asks you any general questions about goals, try to focus your answer on something career-oriented. You can incorporate a personal twist but always bring it back to your career goals. Achieving your goal could teach you a new skill and give you valuable experience. Demonstrate that you are proactive and willing to take action to reach your goals.View Our Answer Example
"My goal is to become a successful sales professional in the luxury retail market. I'm excited about this part-time retail associate job because it offers an exceptional start in the retail industry while allowing me to earn a variety of online professional sales certifications at the same time."
13. If a customer demands to speak to a manager, what do you do?Show Answer
This situation could happen to anyone, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you've done something wrong. However, your manager's time shouldn't be spent on petty concerns, which is why most retail associates receive training in dispute resolution. Talk to the interviewer about the action you would take in this scenario. If you have training in dispute resolution, this question is a great time to mention your training.View Our Answer Example
"I make to take my dispute resolution training and do everything on my level before escalating an issue to a manager. I'd apologize to the customer if they were not satisfied and ask if we could come to a resolution at the associate level. My managers' time is important so I would only escalate if it were truly the only option remaining."
14. What would you do if a coworker asked you to help them steal?Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know that they can trust you and that you'd respond with integrity if you were asked to steal. Theft can include the theft of products, sharing trade secrets, taking customer information, or falsifying timecards. Talk to the interviewer about the steps you would take if asked to assist in a dishonest activity. If you have encountered this situation in the past, this question presents a good opportunity to give a brief story-based example.View Our Answer Example
"If a coworker asked me to help them steal, I would decline and would report the situation to my supervisor as fast as possible. The effects that theft has on a business can be devastating, and I would never want to be a part of that."
15. Describe a time when you had to sacrifice quality to complete a job.Show Answer
This query is a bit of a trick question because your answer should be that you would never sacrifice your work's quality! To answer this question, discuss when you were under a tight deadline and at risk of not completing a job on time. Talk about how you contributed to get the job done, without quality suffering. Perhaps you put in overtime hours, worked off the clock, or enlisted a co-worker to help you out.View Our Answer Example
"I would never sacrifice quality to get a job done on time. Last week, our store was at risk of not completing the inventory counts on time for head office. To get this task done, I chose to stay late and off the clock for a couple of hours. My boss was very appreciative of the sacrifice that I made to hit our inventory deadline. He even let me leave early that Friday to enjoy a half-day off."
View All Retail Interview Questions Plus Answers
Sales Associate Interview Questions
1. Describe a time when a customer wasn't happy. What did you do to fix it?Show Answer
The way you respond to this question will allow the interviewer to determine whether you will be a good representative of their company when serving their customers. The interviewer wants to know that you are ok with dealing with confrontation and that your customer service skills are up to par with what they are looking for. Show that you know how to effectively problem solve and use these skills to retain customers.View Our Answer Example
Think to a specific time when you dealt with an unhappy customer, yet you created a positive outcome. First, describe the scenario. Then, talk about the actions you took to fix the situation. If the outcome of the situation led to the customer becoming a returning customer, even better as this shows that you solved the initial situation, you created a relationship and built trust with the customer.
"I recently worked with a customer who was incredibly upset when they believed that we overcharged their account. I took the extra time required to walk the customer through every line item until they fully understood each item. The call was about one hour total, but it was worth the time to smooth over an important customer-related situation. Rest assured, I take customer satisfaction seriously and never shy away from a chance to make a great impression on behalf of my employer."
2. Do you have any prior experience in the field of sales and customer service?Show Answer
If you have prior sales/customer service experience, describe your experience by giving a brief overview of your resume. This question offers a great opportunity to reveal sales and customer service experiences that may not be included in your resume. Give examples by using your previous work experience, whether you worked in a retail environment, or related. Be sure to provide your interviewer with your sales-related accomplishments as well.View Our Answer Example
If you do not have experience as a Sales Associate, be transparent about this fact. Rather than leading with an 'I do not have...' statement, try leading with what you do offer. Perhaps you are a very social person and find it easy to speak to strangers, or if you are a friend who constantly introduces your friends to the hiring company's products. Even if you don't have past sales/customer service work experience, you should be able to demonstrate that you are driven and that you have the characteristic and transferable skills needed to be successful in this Sales Associate role.
"I have experience in both sales and customer service. I started by career with Company XYZ where I was hired as a cashier. I checked out approximately 100 customers per shift, and always received compliments on my positive attitude and friendly demeanor. After one year, I was promoted to a sales position with the same company. I learned how to sell through active listening and asking helpful discovery questions. Now, as a Sales Associate, I am consistently a top performer in the category of overall sales, number of referrals, and positive customer feedback. I am excited for the opportunity to continue my success as a Sales Associate with Company ABC."
3. Describe a situation where you negotiated terms with a tough customer.Show Answer
Scenario-based interview questions that begin with 'Describe a situation...' are best answered using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Organizing your response using this framework will ensure that you provide the interviewer with the right amount of information and detail to form a compelling answer. Think back to a time where you had to deal with a tough customer, and the outcome was successful. Describe the situation, your thought process when dealing with the customer, how you negotiated, and of course, the positive outcome. Assure the interviewer that you stuck to company policy and discussed the terms with your superiors or management if needed. Demonstrate that you are a professional that knows how to conduct yourself with any type of customer.View Our Answer Example
"In my current Sales Associate role at Car Dealership ABC, I face negotiations every day. Often, I have guidelines to follow, but there are also times when situations call for creative solutions to meet customer needs and budgets. Last week I had a customer come in who wanted to purchase a new truck. The ticket price was $36,000; however, their budget was only $29,000. We went back and forth many times, and it was clear that this person had formal negotiation training. We agreed to a partial cash downpayment and a final ticket price of $33,599. It was fun to have the challenge of negotiating with a knowledgable customer."
4. What do you know about the products and or services we offer our customers?Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know how much time you have researched their organization before attending your interview. Take the time to dig deep into the company's history as well as its successes. Reading their Wikipedia page will not be enough preparation. You should also perform a Google search and look for awards or other exciting accolades to mention. Review the company website and take note of common themes in their mission and core values. Get to know their brand story as well. Check the company's social media platforms for themes in messaging and customer engagement. You should also search who their follower demographic is on social media. This information will give you a strong idea of their target customer. Ensure that you have a strong grasp of their products/services.View Our Answer Example
"I have shopped at Company ABC for many years and know that this store is always on the cutting edge of fashion, coming out with trends before anyone else. Through my research, I also read that you offer a buy one, give one clothing program to help underserved areas in our region. It appears that you truly care about your community and customers, which was a stand-out factor when I chose to apply for this Sales Associate role."
5. How do you typically like to engage a customer?Show Answer
It is important to show that you are attentive to your customers while also maintaining your purpose as a sales associate, which is to make a sale! Describe your customer service communication and engagement style. Customer service training will tell you that there are many approaches to engaging with a customer.View Our Answer Example
This is a chance for you to show why you are an excellent salesperson. We each have a unique personality, and you want to convey your personal style to the interviewer. You can even give a step-by-step example of how you might engage a customer who has walked into a store.
"I like to greet the customer by saying hello and asking how they're doing. I observe what they are looking at and give them information about the product(s). I then ask them if they have any questions. I keep the conversation light and friendly. I think it's important to make the customer feel comfortable and taken care of."
Assistant Manager Interview Questions
1. Name an area you believe you could improve on as an Assistant Manager.Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know in which ways you seek to improve yourself as a leader. This question is another way of asking 'What is your greatest weakness.' Self-improvement is required by everyone, no matter what stage we are in, in life and career. Talk to the interviewer about something that you would improve about your management approach, and what you are planning to do to achieve this goal.View Our Answer Example
"At times, I can get tunnel vision while working. I am very focused on my work and completing all of my tasks ahead of schedule. However, it isn't always possible to do so, especially when my team needs to me pivot without notice. To improve, I am learning how to prioritize and use daily to-do lists to keep track of my duties. Using this approach, I can maximize my time while also being more flexible to address unforeseen circumstances."
2. What do your team members think of you as an Assistant Manager?Show Answer
It is important to be aware, and honest, about your strong points and shortcomings when it comes to your leadership skills. Talk to the interviewer about what you honestly feel your team would say about your leadership skills.View Our Answer Example
"I often ask my team members for feedback on my leadership skills. The points that consistently come up are that I am a clear communicator and that I am approachable. One thing that I could work on would be my ability to be more concise in my direction but I have been working on that and feel that I have improved significantly. "
3. Tell me about a time you provided honest feedback to a team member.Show Answer
There is an art to giving honest feedback, and the interviewer would like to know that you are capable of this tedious task. Great feedback means that you are specific, you make the feedback actionable, and you have a clear timeline for change. Discuss any formal training you have received on giving feedback, or a book you have read on the topic. Perhaps you use a particular methodology that works every time!View Our Answer Example
"When providing feedback, I like to use the 3x3 method, which I was trained on in my first management position. With this method, I offer up three strengths and three potential areas for development. I had a team member who was often late to work, or would call in sick. I let her know that she was well-liked by her coworkers. I told her that our clients complimented her customer service skills. I said I appreciated her willingness to help new hires. Then, I proceeded to let her know that her team felt disappointed, hurt, and lost trust in her whenever she would call in sick, leave early, or show up late to her shift. Together we worked on a 30-day perfect attendance plan. In the end, she did much better and, although her attendance was not perfect, it significantly improved."
4. What qualifies you to become our Assistant Manager?Show Answer
This very direct interview question can be tough to answer. The interviewer is essentially asking why they should choose you over other candidates. When you are pitching yourself for a role, it's important to be clear about why you are the best fit for the company, including their mission, and the responsibilities or expectations.View Our Answer Example
When it comes to hiring decisions, a company will choose the person that they believe will help them to solve a problem or a pain point. By clearly discussing how you will solve the hiring company's biggest needs, you are positioning yourself as the top choice candidate.
"I understand your company is seeking an Assistant Manager with a proven ability to lead a team of field sales reps. You seek a leader who can properly train, motivate, and encourage a boost in sales numbers while providing the tools for each team member to perform at their peak ability. My experience, and past results, align very well with this need. I am an experienced sales trainer, having trained over 50 successful outside sales reps this year alone. My teams' retention rate is the highest in my company. Over 80% of my team members have exceeded their goals for this quarter already. I am a passionate trainer and mentor who is very hands-on and approachable. I would love to bring these skills and traits to your company as the next Assistant Manager."
5. Do you have flexibility in your work schedule? How often do you pick up shifts to help your team?Show Answer
Before answering scheduling questions, it's important to be clear on the expectations of the role. If you haven't had a chance to clarify their scheduling needs, now would be the perfect time to ask! Consider asking what the scheduling expectations are for the position. If you are expected to work 12 hour days, it would be important for you to know that before you respond with, 'Absolutely! No problem!' You want to be sure that you can meet their expectations without burning out.View Our Answer Example
If it turns out the schedule expectations won't work for you, think about what you can offer and see if you can negotiate expectations. It's much better to discuss expectations earlier on in the interview stage than after accepting a job with a schedule that won't work for you.
"I know that management roles can require long hours, and am open to providing flexibility as needed. I am available to take shifts between 8 AM and 8 PM. As extenuating circumstances arise, I will certainly offer more flexibility to ensure that the team succeeds and feels supported."
Manager Interview Questions
1. How do you determine if your team is successful?Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know how you determine whether your team is operating successfully or not. Discuss the methods that you use to gauge if your leadership style is working or not working. Be sure to mention the action you take, should you notice that your team is not operating as successfully as you would like.View Our Answer Example
There are a variety of ways to measure success as a manager:
- Employee engagement levels
- The resignation rate of your highest performers
- The number of promotions you or your team receive
- Overall client feedback
- Trends in bonus' or commission
"I determine the success of my team primarily from our direct client feedback, and by looking at our KPI's and delivery deadlines. If we meet and exceed client expectations and deliver projects on time, I know that team engagement is high. If this is not the case, I will meet with my team to immediately find out the core issue. If we ever receive less than favorable feedback from a client, we all meet to discuss what we could have done differently and then put those ideas into action immediately."
2. What has been your favorite management role so far? What made it so enjoyable?Show Answer
The interviewer is interested in knowing the circumstances surrounding your favorite management role. If they can understand what you enjoy and what keeps you happy, the interviewer can determine if this role will be a fit for you. This question offers an excellent opportunity to ask the interviewer for details on the workplace culture in this role.View Our Answer Example
"My favorite management role was a couple of years ago when I managed a team of highly commissioned, very enthused, sales professionals. I enjoyed this role because employee engagement was high. Sales contests were always happening, and everyone wanted to win. It was great. Would you say this is the air of the culture here?"
3. Tell me about a cost-cutting initiative you created at your last position. Was it effective?Show Answer
Many management roles also require budgetary responsibilities, and the interviewer would like to know that you take finance-related responsibilities seriously. Maybe you actively look for ways to save your employer money. Perhaps you achieved cost-savings in the past by streamlining a process, minimizing the need to hire by doubling up on tasks, or procuring the best price from vendors. Be sure to include a tangible result, success, or achievement, when giving your reply.View Our Answer Example
"In my current position, I changed vendors for a few products and supplies because they were offering a better price. With some, I negotiated better interest rates and asked our service providers to be more competitive. In the first year of joining Company ABC, my cost-saving actions saved them just under $60K."
4. Describe how you like to train new employees.Show Answer
As a Manager, you likely have a method for onboarding and training new employees. Discuss how you ensure that your new employees are on-boarded correctly and how you set them up for success. If you have a recent story-based example that you can tell, this is a highly engaging addition to consider.View Our Answer Example
"I use a variety of strategies to train new employees. First, I like to hire and train in groups of two or more. This way, employees can create a bond and lean on each other as they navigate new waters together. I frequently ask for their ideas, questions, and input along the way. New hires who feel an immediate sense of involvement and inclusion will be more likely to stay long-term. I also utilize my experienced and senior employees as coaches and mentors. I match them with a new-hire that I believe will benefit from their mentorship approach. This method allows the new hire to feel the camaraderie of a team from the start. I also give realistic and achievable goals until their full ramp-up period is complete. Last, I ensure that I give AND receive feedback so that it doesn't feel like a one-way street for the new hire."
5. Do you have experience in corrective discipline and terminations?Show Answer
As a Manager, you will likely need to lead corrective discipline initiatives or even take part in employee terminations. These measures can be tough to lead but, with experience, they do get more comfortable. Talk to the interviewer about the extent of your experience with terminations and discipline.View Our Answer Example
"I have been involved in a few terminations, primarily providing support to the Director as the Manager. I recently came up with a powerful interview process that has helped reduce our previously poor hiring choices. I would love to share my strategy with you sometime. Recently I read the book 'Fix Them or Fire Them' by Steven J. Shaer. The book's premise is how to manage underperforming employees, offering practical help and strategies for real-life situations. The book made me much more comfortable with employee terminations and performance reviews."
Customer Service Manager Interview Questions
1. How do you go about requesting feedback from your customers?Show Answer
Some organizations do customer satisfaction surveys; some have forms on their website or send out short service-based questionnaires by email. Other companies do not collect insights at all. Talk to the interviewer about your desire to obtain customer feedback, and why it is critical to you and the success of your team. Be sure to mention the methods you have leveraged in the past, to collect valuable customer feedback.View Our Answer Example
"My current organization is small, and we do not have an existing process for capturing and analyzing customer service data. In our business, we have every customers' email and phone number. Once a month, I select a handful of customers that I call directly. The remainder, I send out an auto-email. I ask questions such as 'would you recommend our store to others? and 'on a scale of 1-10, how satisfied were you with your overall experience?' I also leave room for open-ended questions such as 'what could we do differently, on your next visit?' Once I have compiled some valuable data, I will present it to my team in our monthly meeting. We brainstorm ideas for improvement and move forward from there. If I receive consistently negative feedback on one particular team member, I will offer further coaching or take corrective action in a one-on-one setting."
2. What is your favorite management tool, and how does it help you to achieve your goals?Show Answer
There are a plethora of management tools available in customer service today. The hiring authority wants to see that you are in-the-know when it comes to the tools available to you. The interviewer is also interested in knowing if you are tech-savvy and if you embrace these tools. Before your interview, try to find out which tools the hiring company leans on the most. Discuss your level of knowledge in these tools, or your willingness to learn.View Our Answer Example
"My favorite management tool right now is Salesforce, hands down. I can track nearly every KPI desired and can access the database from anywhere. This tool has helped to keep my team on track and has boosted our productivity and increased our customer satisfaction numbers significantly. I saw in your job posting that you use Salesforce for your service team as well. I'm thrilled to know that I can continue to utilize this great tool should I be offered this position."
3. How do you define good customer service?Show Answer
Excellent customer service goes beyond doing as expected, and it's more than having a smile on your face when the customer is looking. Excellent customer service means that you actively seek out the opportunity to deliver more than the standard. It means thoroughly listening to your customers when they tell you what they need.View Our Answer Example
Be sure to echo the jargon used on the company website and social media accounts when it comes to keywords related to their customer service mantra. Keep your answer brief, but ensure that it packs a punch.
"Ensuring that my customers are satisfied with their experience every time. That is what good customer service means to me. This level of service may mean bending the rules a touch to deliver what they need. For instance, I will extend the return policy by a reasonable amount if it means a happy customer who will give a solid review."
4. How do you feel about saying 'no' to a customer with unreasonable requests?Show Answer
In a customer service focused role, you have likely come across some pretty crazy requests from customers! The interviewer is interested in knowing where you draw the line when it comes to outlandish claims or needs that you cannot deliver. Give an example of a time when you had to say no to a customer. Assure the interviewer that you are happy to accommodate anyone within reason.View Our Answer Example
"Naturally, as a customer service manager, I want to say yes as often as I can. The odd time, I do have to say no to a client. I recently had a customer make a demand for our product in a color that we do not produce. The request to add color to the production line would have cost our company $56,000 on a $1,000 product. As you can see, it made zero sense. I offered the customer the choice of our eight existing colors and let her know that I would bring the request up at our next board meeting to see if we could consider the addition down the line. Later, I trained my team on how to handle requests like this, which I feel empowered them further."
5. What will you do if an employee is not meeting their goals?Show Answer
The interviewer would like to know how you handle under-performing employees. Discuss how you treat employees who are not meeting targets and company expectations. Be sure to highlight your management style and overall approach when it comes to managing under-performing employees. You can achieve this by providing a story-based example of a time when you handled a situation with an underperforming team member.View Our Answer Example
"Individual coaching is a large component of my role as a customer service manager. I will find out what is preventing that associate from meeting their goals and work with them to overcome those challenges. Perhaps something is going on outside of work, or they did not receive training to feel properly equipped to exceed their goals. Once we identify those items, we will formulate and execute a plan to get them on track."
Cashier Interview Questions
1. What cash handling experience do you have?Show Answer
Be open and honest with the interviewer about your cash handling experience. It will help the interviewer understand how much training you should receive when you begin in the role. Are you well-versed with cash handling? If so, that's great! Share where you worked, how long you were employed there, and how much cash you were typically handling during a shift. Have no cash handling experience? Not a problem! Share that you have not worked in a role with cash handling before, and you look forward to learning cash handling best practices.View Our Answer Example
2. Our store is non-stop ringing customers out, can you keep up in a fast paced environment for 4 hours without a break?Show Answer
Yes, you can! Interviewers in busy establishments need to hear that you are a team player willing to help meet the demands of their busy customer base. Simply tell the interviewer that you are up for the challenge and are confident that you can keep up with the large volume of customers!View Our Answer Example
3. What past experiences do you have that demonstrate your ability to work as a cashier?Show Answer
How has your past experience prepared you for being a cashier? Think through your work history or your school history, and identify the key things you have done as well as training you have received that helped get you ready for a cashiering job. You might share that you have been a cashier for 7 years already. Perhaps you will share that you have taken a customer service fundamentals class in school. Maybe you will share that you have always excelled in math which will help you with customer transactions. Or, maybe you will share that you have many years of working as a bagger/cart runner for the store, and you have gained great knowledge about the items the store sells which can make you a more efficient cashier.View Our Answer Example
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?Show Answer
Tell the interviewer that you recognize the customer is not upset with you about their need to return a product; they are upset at the situation. Next, share that you would listen to why the customer would like to return the product, graciously walk with them over to the return cashier explaining to the return cashier why they are returning the item, and you would let the customer know that this cashier will happily assist them with completing their return. Be sure to mention that you would keep a smile on your face and a positive attitude during this process too!View Our Answer Example
5. Here is a scenario question, If a customer asks for a discount on a gallon of milk, what do you tell them?Show Answer
Assuming there is nothing wrong with the gallon of milk and there is no coupon special, tell the interviewer that you would simply tell the customer that the prices are as listed and you are not able to provide a discount. Be sure to mention that you would do so with a pleasant demeanor.View Our Answer Example
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?Show Answer
The interviewers want to know that you can handle the responsibilities of this District Manager role. Before your interview, take the time to learn where the company has its locations and gain a full understanding of the tasks at hand. If you have experience as a District Manager in a multi-location region, discuss how you successfully oversee numerous locations. If you are new to your career as a District Manager or if this role will be the first time you will lead across multiple stores, give a hypothetical response outlining the approach you plan to take when hired. If you have already laid out a blueprint for success, provide the interviewers with an overview.View Our Answer Example
"In my current District Manager role, I oversee eight locations across two states. My schedule involves a fair amount of travel and a great deal of organization. I understand that this particular role requires management of ten locations across the entire state, which I understand to require overnight travel 60% of the time. I will approach managing such a large area by pre-planning my quarterly activities and booking travel in advance as often as possible. I will provide each store manager with my schedule, so they remain aware of my whereabouts at all times. Since I travel so much, I have learned to be very efficient with my time, and I am very confident in my ability to meet the critical needs of each of your locations."
2. Walk us through your work history with a specific focus on your leadership and management experience.Show Answer
This interview question can be a challenge to approach because it is an open-ended query. When asked to walk the interviewer through a topic, the Past, Present, Future framework can help.View Our Answer Example
- Past: When setting up the 'Past' portion of your response, choose which aspect of your previous experience is most relevant to the job.
- Present: Next, you will paint a picture of what you are currently doing. To sum the 'present' portion of your response, bring up factors from your current role that are most relevant to the new job opportunity. To effectively do this, you will want to study the job posting to discover which management and leadership-related tasks and responsibilities should be in the spotlight.
- Future: Briefly discuss what you are seeking in terms of future management and leadership opportunities. Be sure to qualify how this company can help you to get there.
"I have worked in management and leadership-based roles for ten years, primarily working in the retail space where I have been responsible for the hiring, training, and performance growth of hundreds of retail employees. I have always enjoyed acting as a leader, even before I had an official management title. Currently, I lead eight store managers with more than ninety indirect reports. I travel to each location every two weeks, allowing me to have valuable face time with all employees and store managers. I act as a mentor to those that I lead, ensuring my team members are comfortable asking questions and learning, which results in boosted performance. Now, I am looking for the opportunity to lead a larger team in a District Manager role to focus on sales and performance training. This desire is what led me to apply to your job posting, and I am excited to learn more."
3. We seek to hire individuals of an entrepreneurial nature. Tell us about how you embody an entrepreneurial mindset in your current position.Show Answer
To embody an entrepreneurial mindset means having a clear vision and a firm handle on your targets and goals, revisiting them regularly. As someone with an entrepreneurial mindset, you do not shy away from challenges. Instead, you tackle these challenges and use them as an opportunity to grow. You may also spend a lot of time developing your professional skillset, ensuring that you are always in tip-top shape to help your company and your team grow. Discuss how you embody the qualities of an entrepreneur and highlight precisely how these traits will benefit the company, should they choose to hire you.View Our Answer Example
"In my role with Company ABC, I approach my daily tasks and leadership responsibilities as though the company was my own. I am always in motion, ensuring that every action I take provides value for the business, the customer, and the employees. I am also sure to approach problems from all sides. When I face a challenging decision, I always try to think differently from the average individual. Lastly, I take the time to read every single day, which benefits my employer because I am constantly up-to-date on new management techniques and ways that I can motivate my team members to outperform their last best performance. Should I join your company, I will act as a dedicated intrapreneur by embodying your organizations' goals, vision, and mission in each action that I take."
4. Discuss your least favorite sales approach, and why you find it to be ineffective.Show Answer
Your role as a District Manager may require you to coach and train your team on various sales-based approaches, ensuring that you deliver company KPIs such as quarterly sales growth, lead-to-sale ratio, or retention and churn rates. Talk to the interviewer about a sales technique that you feel is not effective in helping you and your team achieve your sales goals. Be sure to include details on the approach, why you think it does not work, and share a specific story-based example of this technique failing you, if applicable. In the end, to finish on a positive note, discuss a beneficial sales technique you prefer to use.View Our Answer Example
"I am not a fan of any 'limited time' approach that rushes the customer into a decision or makes them feel as though they will lose out if they don't make an impulse decision. Years ago, I worked in sales for a car dealership. We received a great deal of training on 'pressed for time' sales techniques. For instance, if a customer wanted a particular car, we were told to focus on how few cars we had left and to get a significant financial deposit from the customer before they left. When I took over as the sales manager, I re-trained the team to focus on adding value and making a genuine connection with the customer. We scrapped all 'limited time' phrasing, and in turn, our sales increased by 29% in the first quarter alone."
5. Discuss the most successful sales technique you have introduced to your current teams.Show Answer
As a District Manager, you may be responsible for helping your team meet and exceed specific performance targets such as monthly sales growth, quote-to-close ratio, or average purchase value. Talk to the interviewer about a successful sales technique that you have introduced to your team in the past. Be sure to include details on the approach, why you feel it was a success, and share specific numbers and measurements if possible.View Our Answer Example
"I love learning new sales techniques and applying new strategies to test their viability. I subscribe to a variety of reputable sales blogs such as The Ambition Blog and LinkedIn Sales Solutions. The most exciting and lucrative sales technique I have introduced lately is what I call 'The Customer is the Hero.' I have trained my teams to view the customer as the 'hero' character who has an initial problem. The hero meets the mentor, our sales associate, who takes the time to understand the hero's situation. From there, the mentor provides a solution and helps guides the hero to the right answer. The hero then solves their problem and sees the mentor as a reputable and trustworthy source. This sales technique helps the customer to see the value in our product, while still feeling that they are in control of their decisions as opposed to being aggressively pitched a sale. So far, we have boosted our sales revenue by 12% in just one month, and we continue to grow our average sales value, and we are gaining more repeat customers."
6. Tell us about a time when you had to motivate an underperforming team. What was your approach, and what were your results?Show Answer
A District Manager's responsibilities may include regular encouragement of your team of store managers and store employees to hit or exceed their targets and goals. Performance measurements might consist of sales milestones, customer-related tasks, operational responsibilities, or administrative duties. Talk to the interviewers about your experience motivating and encouraging a team that was underperforming on the job.View Our Answer Example
This question is a behavioral-based query, so the interviewer wants a specific story-based example rather than a general statement. When responding to a 'Tell us about a time when...' question, try forming a reply using the STAR framework. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.
"(Situation) In my current position as District Manager for Company ABC, I have specific goals set for each store manager to meet on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Each manager is aware of their store targets and when they need to do to stay on track. One particular manager, and his team, missed their weekly goals for three consecutive weeks. (Task) The manager was one of my newer hires, and I could see that he struggled with keeping up with expectations. I decided to spend an entire week at his location, working directly with him and his team. (Action) Once I arrived, I dug deeper into our discussions and learned that he was more motivated by team rewards than personal recognition. So, we created more specific plans for reaching his goals, and we created incentives for him and his team to earn along the way. I further emphasized the importance of meeting half-way targets before mid-month so that the final stretch would feel less taxing on him and his team. I encouraged him and highlighted all of the factors that he was doing right. (Result) The following month, together with his team, they finished in the top 3 of all thirteen locations for most corporate KPIs. It was very fulfilling to see he and his team succeed after our time spent together."
7. Talk about the most prominent struggle you face in your current position. What have you done to alleviate or repair the situation?Show Answer
The interviewers want to learn more about the challenges you face in your current position. If hired, this information will help the company know where you could use additional training, encouragement, or education.View Our Answer Example
Every individual has an aspect of their work that is more challenging than other areas. One common challenge for a District Manager is the need to terminate an employee. Another problem could be continually motivating unengaged employees. A big challenge could also be sourcing and utilizing the best hiring resources to shave down your time spent reading resumes. Other common problems include handling conflict between coworkers, increasing employee retention, and effectively delegating tasks.
Share the most challenging aspect of your current role while also highlighting the steps you take to alleviate or overcome that challenge.
"My current team works across different states, and many of them operate virtually from a home office since the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. As a District Manager, I must understand the challenges that my team faces when working from home so that I can prevent turnover and also build a teamwork mentality regardless of distance or location. I recently introduced a Friday virtual happy hour, which has received an exceptional response!"
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:
- Department Stores
- Electronics/Computers/Mobile Phones
- Fine Jewelry
- Health/Beauty/Personal Care
- Home Furnishings/Housewares/Decor
- Pet Care
- Pharmacy/Drug Store/Health Services
- Specialty Food
- Sporting Goods/Athletics
- Supermarkets/Food and Beverage
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
- Customer Service Manager
- Floor Manager
- General Manager
- Merchandiser/Visual Merchandiser
- Regional Manager
- Retail Buyer
- Sales Associate
- Sales Manager
- Store Manager
- Store Stocker
- Wholesale Buyer