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Are you looking for a job in retail sales? The truth is that many retailers are looking for candidates with your experience and expertise.
The retail industry is competitive. For every job opening, there are several qualified applicants vying for the position. So when you land a job interview, you have to nail it.
A retail job interview allows an interviewer to find out if you have the qualifications and professional strengths to drive results. They want to know you can make product move and encourage customers to return to their store. Plus they want to know what sets you apart from other candidates.
Retail hiring managers need to fill positions for sales associates, cashiers, customer service, merchandise displays, human resources, and store management. So knowing where you fit in and being able to demonstrate the value you bring is important.
Below are the most common interview questions and how to prepare for the interview.
What work hours are you available? Can you be flexible during peak retail hours such as nights, weekends, and holidays?
I am available to work full time during the week and nights on weekends. Since my kids are grown and out of the house, I am available to fill in if someone is sick. Long hours don’t bother me. So if you need me to pitch in extra during the holidays I am game.
If you were in the middle of a task and your shift ended, how would you handle it?
Last fall I was pulled away from my display merchandising duties to help with creating a big display for Halloween. So I put aside my regular daily tasks to focus on this higher priority. I saw that my shift was ending in 30 minutes. So I spoke with my manager. He told me what tasks I could transition to the new shift that came on. I briefly reviewed what I was working on and who to ask for questions on this project. I was able to get out on time without accruing any overtime. Plus the project was transitioned seamlessly.
If your workday is slow and you have finished your tasks, what do you do?
I love keeping busy. So I ask in advance what good side work jobs are that we can do. It makes the day go by quickly. Plus, it keeps projects moving along smoothly at work.
What other retail experiences do you have?
I have worked in several retail industries. I worked at a retail superstore that sold groceries, clothing, and other merchandise as a retail associate. I also worked at a jewelry store at the mall in one of the highest volume stores in retail sales.
Give me an example of a time you worked with a difficult customer. How did you resolve the situation?
An older gentleman tried to walk in our store without a covid-19 mask. I asked him if he could please put on a mask before he entered the store. I offered him a new mask from our supply. He got very agitated and started to yell in a threatening way. I told him if he couldn’t’ put a mask on I would call security. Then I walked towards the phone to make the call. He left quietly without incident.
Tell me about a time when a customer asked you a question you didn’t know the answer to. How did you handle it?
My favorite response to that is “that’s a good question. I will find out the answer.” I ask my manager. I share the information with the customer. If the customer elevates the situation I hand off to my manager to handle it.
What products and services have you sold in your previous roles?
I worked in the Computer section of Best Buy. There I sold laptops, desktops, tablets, monitors, and computer accessories. Customers always have a lot of questions to help determine the right product to meet their needs.
Give an example of how you engage customers in conversation to understand their needs and desires.
It starts by asking how you can help them. Once they say what they are shopping for, you can ask more about who it is for and their needs. I ask if they are working with a budget. I find out when they need it. I attentively listen to what they say. Then I add any insights or experience I have regarding that product.
What do you do when sales are slow?
I love to do customer outreach. I look up what the last item is and mention any new items we have that would complement it. I recommend suggestions for upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, or occasions. I let customers know about upcoming sales. Communication Interview Questions
How have you simplified a complex issue to gain understanding from a customer or colleague?
When our jewelry store started offering lab-created diamonds, customers were very skeptical and had a lot of questions. So I developed some simplified descriptions to explain in. Natural diamonds are made in the ground and take millions of years to create. Lab-created diamonds are made in a lab and take a few weeks to create. Both test as diamonds, because they are real diamonds. Lab-created diamonds are often of higher quality because they can control the growth conditions. Finally, you can get a higher quality lab created diamond at a much lower price than a natural diamond.
Tell me about a time you had to adjust your communication style for a customer.
Most people who buy diamonds are excited about the style, look, and meaning of the jewelry. Now and then you get a detail-oriented customer who is looking for a very high-quality diamond. They want to see the diamond under the microscope. They want to understand the grading systems for color and clarity. They want to see a regular quality and a high quality certified diamond for comparison. It’s all about understanding your customer’s shopping needs and speaking their language.
Do you work well with others?
Absolutely. For example, if my co-worker has a customer come in for a jewelry inspection, I would offer to look up and mark the paperwork, while they inspect and clean the jewelry. Teamwork makes the job work!
Do you enjoy working in fast-paced work environments?
I love working in high volume retail environments. There is always something going on. The store is buzzing with customers. It’s exciting and I thrive in that environment. Here’s what to say about what type of work environment you prefer.
How did you mitigate or reduce the stressful situation?
During the holidays the store can get jam-packed with customers. One thing that calms down the crowd is greeting everyone and telling them you will be with them in just a minute. Knowing that you have seen them and will attend to them soon keeps them calm.
During busy times, how did you handle the stress and pressure?
When you are experienced working in a fast-paced environment, you can let stress energize you. It moves you into overdrive where you can be more focused and productive. If the stress feels overwhelming, a 5-minute break with a drink of water and a protein bar works wonders to recharge your batteries.
What is a challenge or conflict you experienced at work.?
Once I was helping a customer on a Saturday night who was highly intoxicated and flirting with me. He was a big guy and it made me uncomfortable. I brought my manager up from the back office to assist me with the customer. It made me feel safe to know I had backup. The customer left shortly after.
During the interview, the hiring manager will be looking to see if you have the retail work experience, attitude and abilities they need. Some of the more important skills you need to demonstrate is a strong work ethic, customer focus, sales success, communication, and thriving in a fast paced environment.
When you arrive for the job interview, bring your energy and enthusiasm. Confidence makes a great first impression with recruiters. Dress to impress. Give a handshake and make eye-contact. Be prepared by having your retail success stories beforehand. Ask if they have any questions for you. Then end strong asking about the next steps and sharing your interest in the role.
These retail interview questions and answers will serve as an indispensable guide for you whether you are a retail associate, manager, or district manager looking to accelerate your potential and grow your retail career. Take advantage of these expert tips to interview like a pro and stand-out in the crowd.
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