Top 10 Interview Questions for Retail (With Example Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 November 2022 | Published 12 June 2021

Updated 28 November 2022

Published 12 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The best way to approach an upcoming interview is with preparation. If you have a job interview for a retail position coming up, understanding what sort of questions your interviewer will ask is important. Confidence is key in the retail environment and a quality that hiring managers look upon highly in candidates. Knowing what questions to expect in your upcoming retail interview can help you prepare and come across confidently and professionally on the day.

In this article, we discuss some of the most common interview questions for retail and provide example answers.

Common interview questions for retail

Below is a list of 10 common questions asked in a retail interview. We discuss what the interviewer is looking for with each question and how to answer it:

1. Have you worked in retail before?

This is a broad question for the interviewer to gain an understanding of your experience. If you haven't worked in retail before, try to relate your other work experiences to retail. If you've worked in customer service (i.e. reception, hospitality or a call centre) you can talk about those skills being transferable.

Example answer: 'Working as a receptionist taught me great interpersonal skills. I learnt how to speak to all kinds of customers. It taught me to stay positive and show confidence in my knowledge of the job.'

If you have worked in retail before then be sure to name the company. Tell the interviewer how long you were there and what you learnt. Even if you left that job under negative circumstances, stay positive, and talk about what you gained from the experience.

Example answer: 'I worked at [company name] for two years. It was a great experience. I learnt all about men's fashion and styling outfits. It taught me that every customer is different, and to adapt my sales method to suit this.'

2. Why do you want to work here?

When interviewing for a retail position, the hiring manager is likely to ask this question to gauge your interest in their company or brand. To prepare for this question, research the company beforehand and have a look at their social media channels. This will help you understand the vibe of the company and its culture.

Example answer: 'I've been a fan of [brand name] for years. I love corporate fashion. I think you do it so well, it's sophisticated with an edge. There aren't enough brands doing what you do. Maybe that's why you've been so successful? I often find myself scrolling Instagram for the latest trends in women's corporate fashion. So, I'd love to put that knowledge to use by working for such an inspiring company.'

3. What does good customer service mean to you?

Some of the most common interview questions for retail are about customer service. As most retail positions entail at least an element of customer service, the interviewer will likely want to know that your definition of it aligns well with theirs. Every company has a different approach when it comes to customer service. If it's a boutique brand, for instance, they may have a specific way of greeting customers and approaching them.

Example answer: 'To me, good customer service means being honest. I feel that consumers can see through blatant attempts to sell for the sake of a sale. In today's world, we need to understand their wants and needs and provide solutions. Each customer is different, so I always adapt my sales style to suit that.'

Related: 50 Sales Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

4. Do you work well with other people?

Retail work generally involves a lot of teamwork, so being a team player is a characteristic that hiring managers look for in retail candidates. Some people thrive in a team environment, whereas others prefer working alone. It's important that you answer honestly and maintain a positive tone.

Example answer: 'I believe I do. Working in retail means collaborating with every member on the floor. You cannot be successful if you're only looking out for yourself. I will always help out my workmates if they need it.'

5. How long do you intend to stay in retail as a career?

It is important to demonstrate your dedication to the interviewer. If you don't intend on making a career in retail that is okay and you must answer honestly. You can still tell them that you are keen to have this job for a significant amount of time. You might also say that you are unsure of your career path, and hoping this job will help in your decision-making.

Example answer: 'I'm not sure yet, I love working in retail so I'm hoping this will open up doors of opportunity for me. I am keen to grow with the company and learn many new skills. I'm excited to see where it will take me.'

6. How would you handle a difficult customer?

Interview questions for retail usually always include an opportunity for you to share a challenging experience you have had with a customer. This can help the interviewer identify your ability to diffuse a difficult situation.

Example answer: 'I always treat customers respectfully and go into work with a positive attitude. If a customer becomes irate, I remain as understanding as possible. I never respond defensively or angrily. It's always best to be polite and apologetic. If I can't resolve the situation, I'll involve my manager. I take every challenging situation with a customer as a chance to learn and grow.'

7. Do you work well in a busy environment?

Retail stores are often busy places. Your interviewer will want to know that you can work well in a fast-paced environment. If you've ever worked busy periods such as Boxing Day, then be sure to mention it in your answer. Talk about how you stay organised and methodical in your approach to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Example answer: 'I think I thrive in a busy work environment. At my old job I loved the holiday period, it was fun working in a bustling environment. It creates a great bond with other workmates and makes time go fast. I always stay organised, which I think is the key to handling stress.'

8. What are your available working hours?

Interview questions for retail usually include the interviewer inquiring into your availability. For jobs in the retail industry, it's important to demonstrate flexibility. Retail positions often include weekend work or after-hours work. So, it's important to tell your interviewer that you're happy to do those shifts (only if you can).

Example answer: 'As a part-time university student, my schedule is reasonably flexible. I have classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, but apart from that, I'm free to work. I'm available on the weekends and in the evenings. I'm eager for hours, so am always happy to pick up a last-minute shift.'

9. Could you tell me about a time you exceeded a customer's expectations?

If you have never worked in retail before, you can relate this question to another job. If you have, then try to think of a few situations that you could speak about. The interviewer wants to know that you'll do a good job and understand the importance of customer relationships.

Example answer: 'When I worked at a men's suit store we served many bridal parties. There was one time when a couple came in at the last minute needing a suit because their original one hadn't arrived in time. I was just closing up the store as they came but stayed overtime to help them. I made sure the alterations were done the next morning and got the suit to the customer just in time. They were so grateful and wrote a lovely email to my manager. It was great that the couple was happy and that I was able to provide that help.'

10. What is your greatest strength?

One of the most common interview questions for retail and many other industries is about your strengths. By researching the hiring company, you'll be able to relate your strengths to their needs. Don't be too vague. Listing a bunch of adjectives is not sufficient. It's a good idea to choose one or two of your key strengths and explain them.

Example answer: 'I think my greatest strength is my ability to observe. In retail, it has proven to be invaluable. It allows me to relate to customers on a more personal level. It also creates a sense of trust between me and the customer. Being observant means I pick up mistakes easily, and never miss a beat.'

Questions to ask the interviewer

Now that your questioning is over, the interviewer will likely ask you if you have any questions. It's a good idea to ask at least a couple of questions to show your interest in the company and vacant position. Here are a few ideas of what to ask:

  • How many hours per week are you looking for?

  • How many people usually work per shift?

  • Would my schedule vary every week, or remain the same?

  • How long have you worked here?

  • When can I expect to hear back from you?

Interview tips

The more prepared you are for your interview, the more chance you have at securing the position. While practising the above questions will help, there are other things you can do too:

  • Dress for the job. Don't be scared to dress well, it's better to be overdressed than to look like you made no effort. Research the company and dress to their specific brand.

  • Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early. Make sure you've planned your route.

  • Act interested in the company or brand. Ask the interviewer questions and demonstrate your knowledge.

  • Write a follow-up email or message after the interview. This confirms your interest in the position and shows your enthusiasm.

You can never be too prepared. Ask a friend to help you practise these interview questions for retail positions. Choose your outfit the night before and plan your travel arrangements. Be confident in your ability and don't forget to smile.

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