The interview process
Due to the pandemic, retail job interview times have decreased by 50%. This leaves less time to impress and requires a little bit more preparation.
Retailers & hiring managers are under pressure to ensure that candidates are the right fit for the role during these shorter interviews, so how can you stand out and make sure you get the managerial role you want?
The key is to be adaptable and direct when preparing for and answering interview questions. Do your homework, make sure you’re comfortable with video conferencing and always practice.
Store management job interview advice
A good job interview should feel like a natural conversation between you and your prospective employer. Your objective is to get an offer of a job, and the employer's objective is to find out the following:
· What you have to offer (your skills, abilities, basic knowledge)
· Who you are (your personality, character and interests)
· Why you should be hired (do you have what they are seeking)
Due to the time restrictions on interviews, Senior Retail Management candidates must be very direct when it comes to answering the questions asked.
By giving direct answers you will provide the Hiring Manager with your most relevant answer to the question and get the message across that you’re the one for the job.
Before the interview
The first piece of advice I always give is to know who the Hiring Manager is prior to the interview and have a good knowledge of the company. It is vital to understand what position the interviewer is in and how it relates to the role on offer. It is also crucial to have prior knowledge of the company.
There are lots of candidates that fail in interviews for not having enough general knowledge of the company they are interviewing with. Most of the knowledge needed for an interview can be achieved by
Looking at the company website and “About us” page – candidates can find out basic information such as Directors/Owners, Company/trading descriptions and the overall success of the business.
Visiting the store – store visits (where possible) have become increasing popular amongst Senior Retail Management candidates as they can gather information such as footfall, in-store hierarchy, customer base and products. I would highly recommend for Senior Management candidates to visit the Store discreetly to get a great understanding of how the business operates.
Online shopping sites – by visiting their online shopping sites Senior Retail Management candidates can get information on the types of products and their price range alongside current promotions or deals that may be present in-store.
Competency-based retail interview questions and answers.
Competency-based interviews (also known as structured, behavioural, or situational interviews) are designed to test one or more skills or competencies. The interviewer has a list of set questions, each focusing on a specific skill, and your answers will be compared against pre-determined criteria and marked accordingly.
Competency interviews are particularly favoured by large Retail recruiters, who may use them as part of an assessment centre. This current shift in the style of interviews can throw some people off but if you are prepared it can work to your advantage.
By understanding your current responsibilities with examples candidates can answer each question at ease. Some common competency-based interview questions include:
Give an example of a time where you resolved conflict?
Tell me about a time where you used your communication skills to control a situation?
Explain how you make the most of labour hours with examples?
Describe a challenge you faced in Retail and how you overcome?
To help you prepare I have collected some of the most common job interview questions asked by retailers and some sample answers to guide you for your next retail interview.
Question 1. Explain what your current responsibilities are?
If the Hiring Manager asks, “Explain what your current responsibilities are?”, I would advise candidates to have a pre-meditated answer and list your top 5-10 (depending on the role) of the most relevant responsibilities and examples where possible.
Use the job description as your guide and match with your current responsibilities. For example, if the job spec lists managing suppliers, explain to the Hiring Manager about the responsibility of dealing with suppliers and I’d also briefly discuss what suppliers you dealt with and how you dealt with them in your current role.
Question 2. KPI related questions
Retail stores use various KPIs to measure their activities. For example, one retail store might want to manage their inventory better, so they would use KPIs like inventory to sales ratios or inventory integrity.
In recent years Hiring Managers have been prone to ask a KPI related question so it’s really important to have a good understanding of current KPIs/targets they work with and the KPIs of the role they are interviewing for.
Typical questions around Kpis are generally asked in a generic manner and include questions such as
What KPIs are you currently being targeted on?
What are you current in store targets?
Do you look after sales, waste margins?
How does your current employer track your performance?
Like the comparison of responsibilities and job spec it is also vital to compare KPIs. I would advise candidates to list KPIs clearly and precisely with numerical answers for example – wastage of 2% and lower.
Question 3. “Why should I hire you?” or “What can you bring to the table?”
These questions can be answered in many ways, but I always recommend that candidates briefly discuss some positive outcomes of their current or last position they were in.
For example, when answering the questions above the candidate could reply with “I believe that I could increase sales/productivity of your company as I increased sales in my last role by 10% per annum and introduced a new incentive to increase productivity by 50%”.
Question 4. How do you motivate a team?
Another very common question asked during an interview with a Senior Management candidate would be “How do you motivate a team”? This can be a tricky question because you need to answer with relevance to the role while using examples of your current role.
Some suggestions of how you could answer include: “I motivate my current team with (1) Incentives, (2) Training and Development, (3) Performance related targets and a strong rewarding system, (4) Internal promotions or delegated responsibility”. I would then give an example of each and its effectiveness.
Question 5. Do you have any questions?
Closing an interview is as important as the initial greeting and a Hiring Manager will always ask if the candidate has any questions. I would highly recommend preparing a question or two to gain knowledge of the company or how they operate. This shows you are highly interested in the role.
I would focus the question on finding something out about the company that might not be displayed on websites or extra responsibilities that might not be advertised on the job description. For example, what do you enjoy about working here? How do you measure success? How have you managed the wellbeing of staff during covid-19?
Overall, you want to articulate your previous store management experience in a succinct, personable way. Practise these common interview questions, have strong results-based examples ready and if you have any queries or concerns reach out to a good retail recruiter.