35 Retail Interview Questions (With Example Answers and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 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.

In the retail industry, interviews can serve as an important opportunity to showcase your ability to serve customers, exercise excellent customer service and identify creative solutions when presented with problems. If you're interviewing as a candidate for a retail position, you can maximise your chances of securing a retail role by reviewing the questions you'll likely face and practising your responses. In this article, we outline 35 common retail interview questions, why companies ask such questions and provide compelling example answers to help you form your own responses in preparation.

Related: How To Write a Retail Manager CV

General questions for a retail interview

An interviewer might ask you general questions to better understand who you are and what your personality is like. Here are a few examples of general questions an interviewer may ask you during a retail interview:

  • What do you know about our company?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What do you do for recreation?

  • How did you hear about this position?

  • What schedule can you commit to?

  • Can you describe the professional accomplishment you're most proud of?

  • What do you hope to learn in this position?

  • Do you have a dream job? If so, what is it?

  • What is your greatest professional strength?

  • Why do you want to work here?

  • What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Related: Interview Question: "Tell Me About Yourself"

Questions about experience and background

In retail, having experience can make a significant difference in how quickly you can acclimate to a new role and whether you'll be successful. Here are a few examples of questions about your experience and background an interviewer may ask you during a retail interview:

  • How do you define excellent customer service?

  • What experience do you have in the retail industry?

  • Do you work well with other people?

  • Can you describe what teamwork means to you?

  • What type of shops have you worked for?

  • Do you prefer to work at the checkout or on the floor? Why?

  • What experience do you have managing inventory?

  • Tell me about a challenge you experienced in your past role and how you overcame it.

  • Are you comfortable making suggestions to customers about items?

  • What experience do you have in selling products?

Related: How Do I Answer: "Why Do You Want This Job?

In-depth questions

There are various components of retail roles that require candidates to possess industry-specific knowledge and skills. Therefore, an interviewer may ask you in-depth questions to evaluate you in these areas. Here are a few examples of in-depth, position-relevant questions an interviewer may ask you during a retail interview:

  • How would you respond if you encountered a rude customer?

  • If you suspect a customer is shoplifting, how would you respond?

  • If a customer came to make a purchase after hours while you were closing the shop, what would you do to accommodate them?

  • Tell me about a time that you demonstrated leadership in your previous role.

  • Describe a past work experience that you believe exemplifies strong customer service.

  • What experience do you have problem-solving to meet customer needs?

  • If a customer came to return an item without a receipt, what would be your response?

  • What three words do you think your past manager would use to describe you?

  • Can you describe the essential qualities a retail associate should possess?

  • What is your favourite thing about working in retail?

Related: What Are Competency-Based Interview Questions?

4 common retail interview questions with sample answers

Here are four common retail questions with sample answers to help you rehearse your own responses and prepare for your upcoming interview:

Imagine a scenario where a customer says your colleague has been impolite to them and demands a refund. How would you hand the situation?

An interviewer may ask you this question to gain a better understanding of how you would approach conflict and customer service in your role as a retail professional. This is a frequent challenge that retail professionals face in their day-to-day duties, so it's a good idea to prepare yourself to answer this question by acknowledging this situation's commonality. From here, you can describe a proactive, customer-oriented approach to defusing the situation to show your ability to satisfy their needs while helping your colleague.

Example: 'I've been in this situation before and I feel equipped to handle this type of conflict. I would immediately intervene and ask the customer to accompany me to a different space in the shop to discuss the matter so that I could remove my colleague from the situation. From here, I would validate the customer's feelings, apologise for the instance and ask them to describe the problem to me so that we could collaborate on a solution that best fits their needs. If the situation required it, I would ask my colleague to apologise to the customer.'

Related: Customer Service Skills: Examples, Definition and How To Demonstrate

If your colleague failed to come to work one day, how would you react?

An interviewer may ask you this question to evaluate your ability to perform your role with responsibility, even when your colleagues don't exercise the same initiative. Similar to the situation above, this is a common challenge that retail professionals experience in their roles. You should prepare to answer this question by describing the actions you'd take to locate your colleague and what you'd do if you couldn't get through to them. It can be beneficial to discuss your flexibility as an employee and the team-oriented approach you apply to work.

Example: 'I would first call my colleague and try to locate them. I understand that sometimes emergencies occur and anyone can face obstacles to coming for their shift on time. If I couldn't get through the individual, I would speak with my manager and work together on identifying a solution that ensured proper coverage for the shop.'

Related: How to Use the STAR Interview Technique in Competency-Based Interviews

What would you say to customers if the credit card machine broke down?

Interviewers may ask this question to understand your ability to respond appropriately and adapt to problems you can't solve immediately. In this situation, there's usually no possibility that you'll be able to fix the credit card machine without outside assistance from a repairman. Therefore, you should prepare to answer this question by forming a response that showcases your communication skills and strategic customer service approach.

Example: 'In this situation, it would be important to communicate with customers in-shop about the credit card machine as soon as possible. I would check with my manager to make sure they were aware of the situation, make an announcement over the intercom and place a sign informing customers of the situation on the door of the shop. As customers check out, I would make sure to apologise for any inconvenience and offer to discount a future purchase.'

Related: 31 Common Interview Questions and Answers (With Tips)

Can you describe why customers want to shop here?

Interviewers in retail may ask this question to evaluate your understanding of their target consumer audience and the company's overall brand. As a retail professional, you should possess some level of knowledge about the shopping experience the company offers. In your answer, discuss particularities about the shop and any meaningful observations you've made.

Example: 'This shop seems to be all about providing a unique customer experience. At my local shop, there's always a familiar floral scent that permeates the space and a hip soundtrack playing in the background. There are vintage art pieces and classic rock records scattered around the store. I think customers seek this forward-thinking, relaxing experience while browsing your shops and I hope to be able to help cultivate that for them.'

Related: Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

Retail interview tips

Interviewing can be a challenging experience for professionals within any industry, including retail. Outside of forming effective answers to questions interviewers ask, there are other steps you can take to ensure you make a good impression. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind to cultivate success during your interview:

  • Dress appropriately: To ensure that you feel confident while interviewing and make a positive impression on the interviewer, you should dress professionally. If you're interviewing to work at a retail shop that sells clothing, you can consider wearing clothes from that shop to show your ability to keep up with trends.

  • Do your research: In retail, it's typically important to have a basic understanding of what a shop sells, who its clients are and when the company entered the market. Therefore, conduct some research about the company to prepare for your interview.

  • Express gratitude: Throughout your interview and in closing, it's a good idea to express gratitude for the chance to be considered for the position. This can help maintain positivity throughout the experience and exemplify your professionalism.

  • Enquire about details in a follow-up: After your interview, you can enquire about further details and next steps in a follow-up email. In your email, reiterate your gratitude and ask any relevant questions about your candidacy.

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