When applying for a retail job, it is essential to consider the kinds of questions and scenarios you will be presented with at the time of your interview. Make sure that you prepare yourself beforehand to nail it and leave a lasting impression on your interviewer!
Here, in this article, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most common retail job interview questions.
- Why Do You Want to Work Here?
- Have You Had Previous Experience in Customer Service Or Working in Retail?
- What Would You Say Be Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
- What Do You Consider To Be Good Customer Service?
- Do You Work Well with People?
- What Hours Are You Available to Work?
- What Would You Do If It Was Time for You to Leave, and Your Replacement Has Not Arrived?
- How Would You Handle an Unhappy or Difficult Customer?
- What Would You Do If a Customer Wanted to Return a Product That Was Clearly Opened and Used?
- How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure?
- Can You Tell Me About a Time You Exceeded a Customer’s Expectations?
1. Why Do You Want to Work Here?
“Why do you want to work here” is a frequently asked question, and with good reason, too. Retail can have customers, repetitive tasks, and long hours on your feet, which can tire you out. When answering this question, you should consider what brought your attention to the company or the job of retailing itself. Does it align with your interests? Are you a fan or frequent shopper of the store?
Be sure that the job you’re interviewing for is something you would enjoy doing. Body language can give away how you genuinely feel, and if you’re not going to enjoy your time there, it won’t be beneficial for either party.
If you would like to work in retail, talk about the aspects you look forward to doing or mention traits and strengths you have that would be well-suited for the job.
If you enjoy the brand or the store, don’t be afraid to show your passion for it! Also, if you’re an avid shopper there, be sure to tell them and explain why. Showing your enthusiasm and drive for it can send the message that you’re a determined worker who is willing to put your all in the job.
2. Have You Had Previous Experience in Customer Service Or Working in Retail?
The interviewer might ask this question to figure out how long it would take to train you as a new employee and understand how retail works. This may include how you would manage the various responsibilities an employee has at a store.
If you have prior experience, mention jobs similar to the one you’re being interviewed for, or mention tasks and skills you did which could easily be transferred into the position.
Suppose you haven’t had any previous experiences working in retail, not to worry! You could always compare a situation with similar tasks or require the same skills they would ask of you in a retail shop. Joining clubs or doing volunteer work are both situations that can provide you with the skillset the company is looking for; when mentioning it, make the connection clear for your interviewer.
If you have none to mention, tell them that you understand a lack of experience could make the transition into the job challenging but that you are willing to learn along the way and plan on integrating yourself into the job as seamlessly as possible. It is vital to come face-to-face with your situation and let the interviewer know you’re willing to take action!
3. What Would You Say Be Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
This retail interview question is practically unavoidable — you’re bound to be asked it at one of your interviews; however, learning how to tackle it properly can significantly help you make it through with a good impression.
When it comes to listing your strengths and weaknesses, it is essential to consider what the job requires of you. When listing off your strengths, it is important to mention those that interviewers would actively look for in a retail worker.
Being responsible is one; since you’re dealing with the store’s products and people’s money on a daily basis, every decision you make is important and could either help the company fail or succeed. Actions have consequences, and it is essential to be aware of your influence in order to take charge.
Other strengths that you should consider mentioning:
- Good communication skills.
- Organizational skills.
- Takes initiative.
The strengths you need to mention will vary depending on what the job could ask of you; the skills a department store will need may not be the same as those required at a supermarket.
Having to list your weaknesses is a tricker. Depending on what you list off, it can discourage your interviewer from hiring you; however, not mentioning any flaws at all is unrealistic and gives off a wrong impression.
When listing your weaknesses, it would be best to say those that are either unrelated or unimportant to your workplace. Some real disadvantages could be:
- Overly critical.
- Overly flexible.
Understand what you struggle with, and show that you’re willing to improve on yourself and that you’re open to change.
As they say, every cloud has a silver lining; treat your flaws that way. If you’re overly critical, it only means that you think highly of your work and the work of others and want to see people giving their absolute best.
If you’re too flexible, you can provide new and exciting ideas to the company, think outside the box, and think up solutions that have otherwise never been considered. Make sure to end it on a positive note.
Additional Reading — Interview Question — What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
4. What Do You Consider To Be Good Customer Service?
Good customer service benefits both the customer and the company; the customer receives good service. Their issues or needs are resolved, while the company and its employees are viewed positively, which will bring in more customers as a result.
How would you like to be treated if you were shopping at a retail store? What do you expect from its employees? Take these questions into consideration before answering.
Of course, you would want to be treated with kindness, respect, and interact with employees who are attentive to your needs and ready to lend you a hand at any time. Make sure to be warm and welcoming to the customers, whether they frequented the store each day or if it was their first time visiting.
Your response will give your interviewer a clear idea of how you plan to act if you were to be given the job.
5. Do You Work Well with People?
In retail, you will meet two types of people: customers and coworkers. Be honest in your response, but also know that retail jobs require daily and constant interactions with other people that may place you in difficult situations; ask yourself whether you can realistically handle it.
This question tests how well you can interact and cooperate with other employees and the store’s customers; it can also showcase your approachability and your ability to form a positive connection with others.
If you’re a particularly social person, emphasize that through mentions of past experiences. If you tend to keep to yourself, talk about your flexibility and your ability to work independently.
6. What Hours Are You Available to Work?
It’s essential for them to be aware of your availability to schedule everyone properly. Not everyone’s availability will be the same; if you can only work certain days or certain hours, do not hesitate to inform them.
It’s best to be honest — if you have school to attend, another job, or other responsibilities that take up your time, please let them know.
Of course, if you have days centered around specific events or holidays where your schedule becomes more flexible, let them know about that as well. This is not something you want to be vague about because it is your time and theirs on the line.
Even so, make sure your employers know it won’t stop you from being just as dedicated to your job and that it won’t hinder your performance or cause you to be unreliable.
7. What Would You Do If It Was Time for You to Leave, and Your Replacement Has Not Arrived?
Retail interview questions such as these are asked to check your reliability as an employee. They are on the look-out for employees that are dedicated to their job and in helping out the company, rather than simply clocking out once they’ve finished their shift.
There will be times that an employee may not be able to come into work, or they find themselves short-handed that day, and someone will have to step up and take charge. It not only shows whether or not you are a team-player but if you are the type to take action in these situations, rather than passively leaving the issue for someone else to resolve.
In this situation, it would be best to talk to your manager or supervisor and ask them if they needed you to stay to cover for the other employee. If the replacement is on their way, then you would stay the time needed for them to arrive if your manager or supervisor asked that of you.
If it’s not a case of the employee being late and instead they needed someone to cover their shift, the situation should be discussed with the person in charge in order to come up with the best possible solution.
8. How Would You Handle an Unhappy or Difficult Customer?
This retail interview question tests you on your professionalism and how you deal with conflicts in stressful situations. Most importantly, the best thing that can be done in that situation is to defuse it.
There are several things to keep in mind when dealing with an upset customer:
- Allow the customer to explain their situation.
- Listen calmly and carefully.
- Be empathetic and open-minded.
- Don’t fuel the fire: make sure your emotions aren’t caught up in the situation.
- Repeat back what you heard to make sure you understood.
When answering, be sure to show that you care about your customer’s dissatisfaction and that you are dedicated to resolving their situation — it shows you care about the customer’s needs.
9. What Would You Do If a Customer Wanted to Return a Product That Was Clearly Opened and Used?
When faced with this situation, always check the company policy for returning items; this question makes sure that you follow the company’s guidelines for the store. If a refund can be offered, make sure to do so. However, if one cannot be provided, politely tell the customer and offer to opt for a different solution to their predicament.
10. How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure?
Feeling stressed and working under pressure is not an uncommon predicament. It is important for interviewers to know how you would react and, more importantly — what actions you would take. If those actions are negative, they can be detrimental to the store’s sales, performance, and overall progress.
You need to reflect on the question and respond honestly: how would I handle a stressful situation? Once you do so, it will be much easier to provide a proper answer to your interviewer.
Depending on the person you are, you can answer this retail interview question in many different ways. Some people may thrive under stressful conditions or put under a lot of pressure: it motivates them to work even more challenging. Others decide to use it as an incentive to tackle the root of the problem to lessen their stress. However, you might deal with it and show your interviewer that you can make the best out of the situation and come out.
There are many components that an employee has to keep an eye out for and take care of while working in retail.
11. Can You Tell Me About a Time You Exceeded a Customer’s Expectations?
This asks whether you are the type of person to take charge in a situation and your ambition. Ensure that you explain the situation and clarify how you went beyond what would be standard customer service at your job; some jobs have more requirements than others.
When you answer it, you’re showing that you have passion and incentive for your job. You work to provide for others the best that you can give, and rather than just coming in to earn a paycheck, you show that you want to impact others positively through your actions.
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