Top 10 Retail Interview Questions and Answers
Whether this is your first or hundredth job interview, you are bound to feel nervous.
The intense nature of a job interview can make it feel like a terrifying ordeal designed to crush you.
Of course, the truth could not be more different! Interviewing you for the role you have applied for is a way for the employer to deduce whether you are a good fit. It is an excellent chance for you to shine.
Job interviews can differ across industries and sectors, as recruiters will be looking for specific capabilities and characteristics.
For a position in retail, the interview will focus on answering questions well and building a rapport with the recruiter.
Handling queries and holding a conversation are necessary retail skills, so bear this in mind.
This can be an anxious time so if you find that sneaky impostor syndrome creeping up on you, shut it down.
You have done amazingly to get to the interview stage, and now is not the time to be doubting your abilities.
Ahead of your retail job interview, preparation is vital.
Researching common retail interview questions and practicing mock scenarios will help you feel ready to take on this last hurdle of the job application process.
Top 10 Retail Interview Questions
1. Why Do You Want to Work for Us?
This question is to find out if you feel positive about the company you have applied to. Interviewers know that candidates need a job, so what they are looking for is someone who cares about the brand.
Be careful not to make this answer all about you! Make sure you thoroughly research the company and pick out some company culture highlights that you feel passionate about.
Tie the brand mission into your own career goals and prove that you are attentive, organized and ambitious.
Knowledge is impressive to recruiters and will show that you care about the role.
2. What Does Good Customer Service Look Like?
Interviewers want to know if you share their idea of good customer service.
Good customer service ensures the client is satisfied with all purchasing components of the product or service provided, such as sales, delivery, installation, use and more.
A great answer here would be to recall a story from a previous service job where you were able to provide customer service that was above and beyond expectations.
If you have not worked in a service role before, research the company values to see what their stance is so you can align your views with theirs.
Generally speaking, good customer service includes having good awareness of the products you are selling, a friendly and patient attitude, an efficient manner and problem-solving ability.
Craft a response that incorporates these qualities to show that you have a well-rounded view of good customer service.
3. What Hours Are You Available?
If the hours of the job role have not already been specified, the interviewer may ask this to gauge an idea of your availability.
It is important to be honest here, as there is no point in agreeing to hours that you physically cannot do.
If you are currently studying or have other commitments, state this in the interview.
Depending on the company’s business needs, they may be more likely to hire people with flexible schedules.
A good answer to this question would focus on when you are available, rather than when you cannot work. If you have limited flexibility, ensure you highlight your free hours.
4. How Would You Handle an Unhappy Customer?
Dealing with unhappy customers is an unfortunate but almost guaranteed part of working in retail.
When faced with this question, you should remember the above point that showed you can deliver good customer service!
Here you need to show that you can remain composed and empathetic in stressful situations.
You should emphasize that you would endeavor to understand and resolve the customer’s issue.
Don’t be afraid to say that you would ask a manager for help, as this shows that you can use your initiative and involve more senior members of staff to settle the issue.
5. How Have You Handled a Very Busy Period in Another Role?
This is an example of a behavioral interview question. You can identify them as questions that often start with “Tell us about a time when…”.
Here, the recruiter is trying to predict how you would handle busy periods based on situations you have faced in the past.
Working in retail can mean certain times of the year, such as summer and Christmas, are busier than others.
When it comes to behavioral questions, you can use the STAR response technique to develop your answer. This method means outlining the:
Situation – Describe the event or situation that you were in. What was the challenge?
Task – Explain the task that you had to complete. What was your responsibility? It is fine to mention teamwork but be sure to emphasize your individual role and how valuable it was in remedying the situation.
Action – Then describe how you completed the task or solved the challenge. Again, focus on what you did. Use “I” instead of “we” to highlight your own contribution.
Result – Finally, round up your response by explaining the outcomes or results that were generated by the action taken. Emphasizing what you accomplished and the lessons you learned will show your ability to make careful decisions.
As you can see, STAR responses are all about you.
A job interview is not the time for modesty, so make sure you relate each step back to the actions you took in the challenging situation.
It is a good idea to have several STAR responses memorized so you can recount the situations in the interview.
As you can’t predict the exact questions you will be asked, take a brief moment to reflect upon hearing the question.
Think about your prepared responses and which one best suits the question. Deliver it confidently to show that you are capable of handling whatever comes your way.
6. What Are Your Weaknesses?
This question can seem impossible to answer. You don’t want to admit to always running late, or being easily annoyed, as these bad habits won’t impress retail recruiters.
Equally, don’t say that you don’t have any weaknesses. You are only human, and this question isn’t meant to catch you out!
Instead, you should think about a personal weakness of yours that you are working to overcome. What have you struggled with in the past?
Make sure that the weakness you choose is one that can be solved, for example:
I struggle with planning and prioritisation but am working on this. I have started using a diary and writing daily to-do lists.
I can get impatient when a team member is not doing their part in a group project. I am trying to work on this weakness by taking time to explain requirements in more detail so everyone is on the same page.
I am good at seeing the bigger picture so I have learned to surround myself with people who are better at dealing with the details, as I often struggle in this area.
7. Do You Shop Here?
If you are already a customer, you should be enthusiastic and give feedback on one or two details about your favorite product.
Do they sell the softest jumpers you’ve ever found?
Perhaps the candles smell divine? Or does their handwash awaken your senses all day long?
If you are not already a customer, say something like, “I don’t shop here as much as I would like to,” and give a reason why.
Are you new to the area or cutting back on disposable income?
You don’t need to be a regular customer but what you should show is that you have an understanding of the company and its unique offering.
8. Do You Work Well With People?
Working well with people is an essential quality for a job in retail.
Whether you will be on the shop floor and at the cash register engaging with customers, or in the stockroom handling deliveries, you will be collaborating with others.
If asked this question, you should respond positively and carefully. You need to come across as personable without making the interviewers think you would spend more time socializing than working!
A measured response here would be something like:
I like to work with people and believe I work well with others. It is a really important ability for working in retail as it is essential for everyone to feel part of the same team. I am always thinking of others and putting myself in their shoes, which helps me see things from different perspectives.
9. Can You Tell Us About a Time When You Worked in a Team?
Similar to the question about handling busy periods, this is a behavioral interview question.
Using the STAR technique, you should prepare an answer that emphasizes your role and how your contribution to the team impacted the outcome.
If you have previously worked in retail, this question would be a great way to show how you engaged with your colleagues to solve a problem.
10. Do You Have Any Questions?
This question is usually asked at the end of every interview across all sectors.
While you can count on it being asked, it can take you by surprise if you are not prepared.
You may be tempted to smile and say you have no questions because the interviewer explained everything perfectly.
They may have told you everything you wanted to know about the role, but having a few follow-up questions will show that you are enthusiastic and attentive.
Asking a question about the position or workplace shows the interviewer that you are proactive and can see yourself in the role at this stage.
You can ask for details on training, opportunities for professional development, and the makeup of the team you will be working in.
How to Prepare for a Retail Interview
As well as practicing questions and holding mock interviews, there are a few things that you can do in preparation to feel fully equipped.
Research the Company
Visit the store’s website and read through the 'About Us' page to get an idea of the company's history and values.
Taking a look at the company’s social media accounts can give you a sense of the brand’s identity.
Remembering some key facts about the store will help if the interviewer asks you why you want to work there.
Prepare Some Questions to Ask the Interviewer
As outlined above, the recruiter may ask you if you have any questions for them.
During your research, you can pick out an interesting aspect of the company to expand on with a question.
Does the website mention development opportunities, or is there any part of the job description you want to know more about?
When it comes to job interviews, being on time is late. When you are battling against nerves, inconveniences such as traffic or a queue in the coffee shop can mean the difference between arriving cool, calm and collected, or nervous and frazzled.
To ensure you step into the interview room with confidence, schedule some preparation time the night before.
Plan your Outfit
You should plan your outfit in advance and set it out ready for the day of your interview. If the role is for a clothing store and you own interview-appropriate clothes from there, wearing them would be a nice touch.
If you are asked questions about the company, you can point out that you are wearing their clothes to show your passion for the brand.
Entering the interview with a smile will not only greet the panel but also put yourself at ease. Interviewers know that candidates will be feeling anxious, so try not to let nerves get the better of you.
Keep a smile on your face throughout, be friendly to everyone you come across, and relax.
All your interviewer wants to see in a retail interview is that you are smart, informed, friendly and effective.
You can show that you have these qualities by following our tips and practicing interview questions in advance.
Working in retail requires a positive, can-do attitude in stressful situations, so remain enthusiastic and let the recruiter see why you are perfect for the role.