Retail interview: Q&A

Have you bagged yourself an interview in Retail? Congratulations! Now it's time to focus and land your dream role in the retail sector. 
To help you on your way, our team of retail specialists at Detail2Retail have compiled a useful list of questions to give you an insight into the types of questions that are asked at a retail interview. We have also included the best way to answer these types of questions to give you a fighting chance ahead of other candidates - aren't you lucky?!  

So what are you waiting for? Get practicing! 

Good luck!

1. How Are You?
It seems obvious, but interviewers start to make their decisions as soon as they greet you, so handling “small talk” well is crucial as this is where first impressions are formed.

My advice is always to be professional (don’t swear, be appropriately dressed etc) but not serious. Too many candidates confuse the two and – in an attempt to show how important the job is to them (or just because they’re nervous) - candidates can appear stilted, cold, arrogant and/or aloof.  

Have fun, have a smile on your face and enjoy the interview.

 

2. Tell Me About A Time When…
If it is a competency based question – “tell me about a time when...” or “give me an example of...” – make sure that you give them a specific (ideally measurable) example of this, not just your general thoughts about it

i.e. “Tell me about a time when you have had to manage poor performance, who was it that performed badly, how did you identify they were performing badly, what steps did you go through, was anyone else involved and what was the result?”
 

GOOD “My old Assistant Manager was a lovely chap called Bob who had some great customer service skills but his organisation was appalling. He’d often forget the most basic admin and it caused an effect on his performance. We identified this was because his short terms memory wasn’t great so I asked him how he thought we could help this? Following our conversation, he started carrying round a small note-pad which meant he could have a constant “check-list” on the go as opposed to relying on his - admittedly not great – memory. This meant that his admin became much stronger without impacting the rest of his work and through the extra confidence he gained, Bob was promoted to a Store Manager role last month.”
 

BAD “I believe it’s important to tackle any and all examples of bad performance. Too many managers can shy away from it even though it is never a pleasant part of the role. If I’m aware that a member of my team is under-performing, I make sure that I tackle it head on. I have conversations with the person in question, establish where the problem has come from and how we can work together to improve it and doing this has helped not only my development, but the development of the team overall.”
 

3. Do you have any questions?

Usually the only question you can guarantee being asked “do you have any questions” is often your final chance to influence the opinion of an interviewer.

Remember – when you say a question at an interview, you’re really saying “this is what is (most) important to me” and “this is how I make a decision on a job move”

In response to “do you have any questions” if you say;
 

“no” – then they have questions on if you actually want the job

“no, but I was going to ask about x which you’ve already covered” – then they think you haven’t prepared any questions and are now trying to blag it


Be careful not to ask a question where the answer was already given in the interview as it will look like you’re not paying attention.

HOWEVER

If you ask questions about training / development / progression, then you’re showing how keen you are to join and progress in the company.

The best questions though begin with “during my research / store visit / SWOT, I noticed x – can you tell more about this?” – this shows how important your research has been to you as well as presenting the interviewer with (hopefully) a commercial, intelligent and original question.


One Final Note: Make sure you answer the question that you’re being asked, not the one you think you’re being asked (or want to be asked) i.e listen to the question

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