Whether they’re opening up a new boutique or growing an existing storefront, small business owners of retail shops often have to hire employees for their stores. But even if these potential retail sales associates or assistant managers have resumes with great experience that “looks good on paper”, that doesn’t mean they’ll be a fit for the job. That’s why it’s important for small business owners to interview candidates. However, interviewing candidates for a retail job calls for having a plan and knowing the right questions to ask. Here are some top retail interview questions small business owners can ask:

Questions to Ask About the Candidate

It’s crucial for small business owners to understand how potential employees interact and collaborate with their co-workers. It’s also important to know the future career plans of each candidate. This helps to provide valuable insight on whether or not the candidate is a good match for the company, especially if the goal of the hiring process is to have long-term employees that grow with the company. Here are some questions small business owners can ask to learn more about the candidates they are interviewing:

Why work here?

The answer to this question can reveal the candidate’s true reason for coming to work for a retail shop. Company owners should watch out for red flags, such as vague answers. For example, statements or answers, such as “because it’s fun,” do not provide much insight on the true motivation behind why the candidate is working for the company. It could be a sign that the candidate does not have intentions to stay around long.

What can you tell me about your experience?

Interviewers should make sure to ask candidates about their experience. This helps them to verify that the information the candidates provide on their applications or resumes is correct. Also, ask interviewers should inquire about what they enjoyed about achieving that experience.

How well do you work on a team? 

Retail stores often involve working in a team environment. Candidates should be able to work with other retail store associates and managers respectfully and in a professional manner.

What would your current supervisor tell me about you? 

This question would encourage candidates to describe what type of person they are in the eyes of their current employers. It will help reveal how they perceive themselves as a worker and encourages them to provide an honest answer in case the interviewer does check their references.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

This question helps reveal the career goals of the candidate. Listen for answers that demonstrate that the candidate wants to grow with the company. For example, an ideal answer to this question is that the candidate wishes to master his position and hopefully move up in the company.

What has been your greatest accomplishment? 

Candidates should be able to discuss a problem they’ve had to overcome and why they consider it to be their greatest achievement. This shows potential for how candidates solve problems.

Are there any additional questions? 

By asking this question, hiring managers can get an idea if the candidate is truly interested in the position for the long haul. Most candidates who are interested in working with a company long-term will have more questions about career growth within the company, expectations of the job duties or what benefits the company offers.

Customer Service-Related Questions

Customer service is at the foundation of any retail job. Thus, it’s important for hiring managers and small business owners to ask questions related to customer service. Some critical customer service questions to ask include:
  • What does good customer service consist of? 
  • This question is aimed at having candidates define “next-level” customer service. It helps the interviewer understand the candidate’s perception of good customer service.
  • How should customer returns without a receipt be handled? This question helps the interviewer determine how the candidate potentially handles conflict. Hiring managers should listen for answers that align with their company’s policies and values to determine if the candidate is a good match for the job.
  • How do you handle irate customers who demand to speak to the manager? The ability to handle customer conflicts without the help of a manager can save time for everyone involved. It also demonstrates leadership skills. Thus, it’s important to inquire about how potential candidates address irate customers.
  • How do you find items for customers that contact you over the phone? Even if the candidate is primarily expected to work on the floor, there will be times where they may have to answer the phones to the store. Thus, it’s important to determine if they have critical soft skills and interpersonal skills to ensure they create an enhanced customer experience. Look for answers, such as letting the customer know what they are doing, asking for permission to place them on hold or advising them who they will transfer them to so that they are speaking to the right person.
  • What products from the store would you recommend to a customer? Use this question to see how the candidate addresses helping the customer find the right product based on their needs. This question is also helpful to determine if the candidate did any research on the company, which can be helpful for assessing research and customer service skills.

Final Thoughts

Interviewing candidates to be a part of a retail store’s team is an important step for small business owners to take to ensure they are building a team the fits the business’ goals and can help the business grow. By asking the right questions from the start, small business owners can find ideal retail workers that are a fit for their business.

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