Customer handing over his credit card to a cashier holding a POS device.

Retail Job Interview: 6 Soft Skills
to Showcase

Eric Ciechanowski
By Eric Ciechanowski
Last Updated: September 03, 2020
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For many people, retail is a great industry for building up a work history and getting started on the professional ladder. But retail jobs can be competitive, and without retail experience it can be tough to know what to highlight in your retail job interview.

Success in retail depends to a large degree on people skills. Because of this, impressing in the interview is of utmost importance when you’re angling for a retail job. Whether your interview is conducted in person, on the phone or as part of a group, there are certain retail job interview questions you can expect to be asked and certain skills and traits you should highlight in your answers.

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Retail Interview Tips

Showcase your conversation skills

“Retail positions are looking for people who can balance the art of conversation without talking too much,” says John Mauck, Human Resources Director for WLR Automotive Group. “You need to be able to make a customer feel comfortable, yet be a good listener.”

In the Interview, you can demonstrate your listening skills by making eye contact with the interviewer, listening carefully to the questions asked and giving specific, relevant answers.

“Remember,” Mauck adds, “customers will ask you questions and the customer does not want a vague answer. Be precise.”

Example retail job interview question: “Tell me about yourself.”

Let your personality shine

Retail involves dealing directly with customers on a daily basis, so interviewers want to see a candidate who is friendly and personable.

“Make sure you’re positive and friendly personality shows through in your interview,” says Andrew VanderLind, Co-Founder of Where I’m From Apparel. “Be talkative and ask questions.”

Example retail interview question: “When selling a product, what techniques or skills do you use?”

Demonstrate your strong work ethic

Jobs in retail are not for the lazy, and hiring managers are looking for people who will show up and put in a solid effort at work.

“Have examples of times when you have rolled up your sleeve and put in the extra work to get the job done,” suggests Vanderlind.

Make a point of letting the interviewer know that you will go the extra mile for this job.

Example Retail Interview Question: “What was your largest sale? What strategy did you use to make the sale?”

Show that you’re trustworthy and accountable

“Knowing that we can count on someone to show up consistently on time is extremely important when building a team,” says Vanderlind. Convey this trait in your interview simply by showing up early for the interview, dressed professionally, and giving honest answers.

Example retail interview question: “How do you manage your time when you have competing priorities?”

Highlight your problem-solving skills

In an industry where the customer is always right, retail employees are often asked to work their way out of stressful situations.

“Working in retail is all about being customer-oriented – so I would definitely advise candidates to emphasize this,” says Alexander Grosu, Project Manager at TestUP.

Example retail job Interview question: “Tell me about a time you had a difficult customer experience. How did you handle it?”

Show interest in the company

Don’t treat all retail job interviews the same. To stand out from the crowd, do some research beforehand and think of specific reasons why you want to work for that company.

“We seek out friendly, upbeat, positive people that demonstrate they are interested in our company and becoming part of the team,” says Laura Platt, HR Manager at Spreadshirt. Also, don’t be shy about asking about the next step is in hiring process. “It shows interest and gives you concrete information to plan ahead,” says Platt.

More so than many other jobs, retail opportunities often get a huge number of applicants. Demonstrate your intent and professionalism by following up with a note to the hiring managers, thanking them for their time and summing up your interest in the position.

Example retail interview question: “Why do you want to work here?”

Working in retail is demanding and fast-paced, so retail hiring managers are always on the lookout for dedicated hard-workers with good problem-solving and people skills. Stand out from all the other candidates by showing that you have the right skills and traits in your retail interview.

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