Retail Interview Questions
Recruitment can be time-consuming and complex. First, you need to define role requirements and outline your interview process. Next, you need to decide whether you’re recruiting internally, externally, or using a combination of both. Once you’ve screened and shortlisted candidates, you’re ready to assemble those retail interview questions and meet potential hires face-to-face.
In retail, interviews are particularly valuable. Team dynamics and customer service skills are vital, but not everyone can work collaboratively or have the confidence to thrive in retail roles. If you want to bolster your team with the best available talent, it might be time to rethink the retail interview questions you’ve been using.
What do employers need to find out in a retail interview?
While you can pick up on points from a CV and cover letter, the interview is a chance to go deeper with a candidate. It’s your chance to find out what really makes someone tick and find out why they’re passionate about working in retail.
Unless you occupy an ultra-niche market, your business will have competitors. The candidate in front of you could have applied for a retail role with any of them, so why have they singled out your brand in particular?
How well do they know your brand?
Have you established why a candidate wants to work in retail and discussed their experience? If so, now you’re ready to start asking retail interview questions that will identify whether you’re dealing with a team player who understands your brand.
Candidates who take the time to research your company, brush up on your values and ask relevant questions are more likely going to become brilliant brand ambassadors. This is key to great customer service and bodes well for development.
How engaged are they?
Active listening is always a positive sign. It shows candidates are engaged, but their answers should align with the questions asked. A major disconnect suggests their mind is elsewhere. Likewise, be wary of those who sound as though they’re running off ready-made answers from a rehearsed script.
These applicants tend to navigate to talking points they’re more confident with. To tackle this diversion tactic, put them on the spot with very specific questions, leaving no scope for sidestepping. If they fail to answer this question with a relevant answer, there’s probably no point in progressing further.
How to assess if your candidate is a good fit for your retail company
Common retail interview questions ask applicants to discuss past successes in previous roles. There’s nothing wrong with those who give answers about their professional strength and strong skill sets, but a little humility goes a long way in a job interview.
Talking about a potential weakness isn’t always a sign that someone’s unsuitable. If they have other useful skills, consider what internal training opportunities you can use to advance someone. To encourage interviewees to talk about their weaknesses, reframe your questions to focus on particular challenges in previous roles.
As well as fully understanding a remit, the best candidates will be able to comprehend the true value of a role. If they don’t understand the purpose of the job they’re pursuing, they’re unlikely to make the best of the position.
Some people know exactly where they want to be in ten years, while others are happy to go with the flow. Companies with internal development opportunities will appeal to those with ambition, but you need to root out those who might see the role as nothing more than a stopgap to a more lucrative position elsewhere.
Best retail interview questions to ask your candidates
If an interviewee has worked in the industry for some time, the standard list of retail job interview questions isn’t going to faze them, while their answers are likely to be formulaic. To test things like communication skills and how they’d meet customer expectations, try refreshing things with some of the retail interview questions below.
1. Can you give me an example of a scenario where you had to deal with a particularly difficult customer?
This is one of the most important interview questions for retail positions to ask. It forces them to think about important skills like conflict resolution, while you’ll get an idea of how they’d de-escalate tense situations with difficult customers. Not convinced with their first answer? Follow things up by asking how they’d deal with a specific scenario, such as when a customer attempts to return an item without proof of purchase.
2. Can you list three key elements of great customer service?
Your employees should go above and beyond for your customers. The signatures of great customer service tend to look the same everywhere, so a desirable candidate should have no trouble answering this. If you feel answers are a bit lightweight, don’t be afraid to push for more detail.
3. Can you think back to a challenge you’ve had to overcome in a previous role?
If you want to probe further with interview questions and answers, try asking this. Here, prospective hires have a chance to demonstrate how resilient and adaptable they truly are. Ideally, they should be offering specific examples that are relevant to the position they’re applying for. If you’re recruiting for a managerial role, for example, an anecdote about a busy afternoon handling transactions isn’t going to give you the insights you want.
4. Do you have a personal work style?
Every company is different to a point, so a new hire needs to be adaptable to the dynamics of your existing workforce. When it comes to work style, some of us are more self-sufficient, while others thrive in a collaborative setting. Both can be useful, but you need to think about the bigger picture and how well someone is going to slot in alongside an established workforce.
5. What is your single biggest weakness that you need to work on?
This is one of those interview questions retail workers dread, but it’s one you need to ask an employer. There’s the practical aspect of finding out whether an applicant is lacking a crucial skill, but it also brings constructive self-criticism to the table. An honest answer might reveal that someone is open to feedback and looking to develop. If you think an answer is too broad, ask an interviewee to tie it to a real-life example.
6. Have you ever experienced conflicts in the workplace before and how did you resolve them?
One of the most valuable retail interview questions of all, is relevant to every role. Conflicts within a team are bad news for any company, but in a customer-facing environment like retail, it’s particularly worrying.
If you’re interviewing for a team leader or managerial role, ask potential hires to discuss how they mitigated brewing conflict between their direct reports. For a more junior sales assistant role, encourage interviewees to discuss how they handled disagreements with colleagues in the past. Once again, you want specific examples, not generalised answers.
7. What does success mean to you?
This is one of those classic questions to ask in a retail interview that can say a great deal about what’s truly driving someone. People will likely respond with answers about career advancement and more senior roles, but you’re looking for the why, rather than the what here. Authentic answers will also reveal the root of someone’s motivations, whether that be a salary increase or a genuine drive to develop.
Looking to streamline the retail recruitment process?
There’s no point in polishing up your retail interview questions if you’re not allowing sufficient time for the first face-to-face meeting with potential employees. Assign a minimum of five minutes to each question you’re going to ask.
If you’re going to ask for specific examples and want to be able to ask follow-up questions, allowing a few extra minutes for each one is a good idea. Once you’ve assigned time for greetings and farewells, the average retail interview should run to around 45-60 minutes. Of course, there’s a lot of work involved before you even get to the interview stage. If you want to streamline the process and identify the best available talent, recruitment software is a useful tool.
With a software solution like Teamdash, you’ll find all the tools you need for in-house recruitment at your fingertips. Never lose sight of desirable candidates again with a full-featured applicant tracking system that lets you connect with the recruiter tools you’re familiar with. What’s more, those time-consuming tasks can be automated, freeing up the schedules of recruitment and HR teams. You can even use Teamdash to supercharge social media recruitment, with tools to keep track of cross-channel campaigns and manage ad budgets, not to mention detailed analytics so you can measure ROI.
Why not book a demo today to see for yourself how Teamdash can help you with your recruitment goals?