The 5 Best Retail Interview Questions and Answers

Download Now: 50 Common Interview Questions
Caroline Forsey
Caroline Forsey


Hiring for a retail store isn't easy.

Two women discussing the best retail interview question and answers

You might find a candidate with a ton of prior experience in retail, but a poor ability to connect with your customers. Or, perhaps you interview someone who is sociable and helpful, but doesn't have the ambition to drive sales.

Your retail employees are the face of your brand, and often the number one defense against e-commerce stores like Amazon. If customers like your salespeople, they might return for the excellent customer service alone.

Free Guide: 50 Common Interview Questions [Download Now]

Additionally, you'll need competent employees who can work efficiently to avoid long store lines. If you think this isn't a big problem, think again -- according to a new report conducted by Adyen, retailers are losing a collective $37.7 billion in potential sales due to long checkout lines.

To ensure you're hiring the best, most efficient retail workers, take a look at the five best retail interview questions you should ask, and how an ideal candidate would answer them.

1. Why do you want to work in retail/at our company?

Working in retail is challenging, and isn't for everyone. You need employees who are capable of handling difficult customers, standing on their feet for long periods of time, and generally willing to drive sales even when they're tired.

For this reason, it's critical you ask this question. An ideal candidate will focus her answer on your company, highlighting why your brand is important to her and what she likes about your merchandise. Additionally, you'll want a candidate who says she enjoys interacting with people, and will go out of her way to be helpful to your customers.

2. What do you consider good customer service?

Ultimately, customer service is about listening to the customer and doing your best to accommodate that person's unique needs. It's about remaining engaging and helpful, but also empathetic when a customer is frustrated.

An ideal candidate will say something like this, "Good customer service is valuing every person who enters the store, and doing my best to ensure their needs are met. Additionally, good customer service means remaining friendly and engaging, so a customer leaves the store feeling appreciated."

If your candidate can't adequately answer this question, it's a sign she isn't ready for the customer-facing aspect of the job. 

3. Can you provide an example of a time when you went above and beyond for a customer?

You don't want an employee who only does the bare minimum required. If you want to retain customers long-term, it's critical your employee goes above and beyond.

For instance, if you don't have an item in-store and your customer wants it, you want an employee who goes out of her way to order it online and ship it to the customer, free of charge.

Additionally, you want someone who goes beyond the "Hello" greeting at the door. Collecting clothes to put into a fitting room, asking if the customer needs different sizes, and mentioning store discounts are all ways your employee can show your customers they matter.

Ideally, your candidate will be able to offer multiple examples of times she went above and beyond for customers. You want this to be the norm in your store, not a rare occurrence.

4. If a customer is rude, unruly, or confrontational, what do you do?

When working in customer service, it's guaranteed your employee will occasionally come across frustrated or rude customers. You'll need a candidate who knows how to show empathy and de-escalate the situation, rather than make matters worse.

For instance, your candidate should say something like this -- "If a customer is being rude or confrontational, I first recognize there's a reason for it, even if I don't know what that is. I do my best to show empathy, and try to figure out the root of the problem. Then, I focus on potential solutions, rather than ruminating over the issue. The quicker I can reach a resolution, the faster the customer will likely calm down and become more polite."

You don't want a candidate who believes it's okay to fight back, or ask the customer to leave the store. Instead, you need a candidate who is calm and empathetic during stressful customer interactions, and remains focused on finding a solution.

5. How do you make sales and promote a high-value average transaction?

Remember, the best retail employees aren't just there to be helpful to your customers -- they're also there to help your business grow.

You want a candidate who can remain focused on making a profit for your company. For instance, an ideal candidate will say, "I focus on what the customer wants, and do my best to mention related products. For instance, if they've chosen a book as a birthday gift for a friend, I might mention fuzzy socks or a nice candle as a complementary gift. By focusing on the customer's goal, I'm typically able to make sales by offering helpful and relevant suggestions."

New call-to-action

Topics: Retail Trends

Related Articles

Access 50 interview questions and learn the best way to answer them.

    Marketing software that helps you drive revenue, save time and resources, and measure and optimize your investments — all on one easy-to-use platform