Common retail manager interview questions (with answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

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.

Interviewing is a crucial part of a job application process and allows you to highlight your skills and experience relevant to the job description. You can prepare for an interview by considering the common questions interviewers ask and formulating detailed answers that demonstrate key skills or experience. During a retail store manager interview, an employer is looking to assess your customer service and leadership skills in different situations. In this article, we explore common retail manager interview questions you may experience with sample answers to help you prepare.

Related: How To Write a Retail Manager CV

General retail manager interview questions

There are several retail manager interview questions that an employer may ask to help them assess your overall working style, interest in the role and personality:

  • Why are you interested in the retail manager role?

  • What interests you about management?

  • Tell me more about your previous role.

  • Tell me more about yourself.

  • Why have you started a career in retail?

  • What skills do you feel a retail manager needs?

  • What do you know about the business?

  • What do you want to achieve over the next five years?

  • What does a good manager look like to you?

  • How important is customer service in a retail role?

Related: How to prepare for an interview

Questions about experience and background

During the store manager interview, an employer typically asks these questions to establish if you have the right level of experience and qualifications to succeed in a retail management role:

  • Can you talk me through your CV?

  • Can you let me know about your previous management experience?

  • Tell me more about a time you experienced conflict at work. How did you handle it?

  • What qualifications do you have that are relevant to this position?

  • Do you have experience in onboarding new employees and providing further training?

  • How do you feel about working in a collaborative environment?

  • What experience do you have in delegating tasks to the right individuals?

  • How do you feel about working as part of a larger team?

  • What experience do you have in supporting a team of employees?

  • Why do you think we should hire you?

Related: 31 common interview questions and answers

In-depth questions

Manager interview questions typically include a section of more in-depth questions that help the interviewer determine how you may act as a retail manager. These questions may relate to specific circumstances that may arise in your role:

  • How would you support a colleague that is facing challenges in their role?

  • How would you keep a retail team motivated within their role?

  • Can you tell me how you'd deal with a situation where you're understaffed?

  • What steps would you take to stay organised and ensure your team is on task?

  • What steps would you take to ensure a customer has a positive experience in the store?

  • Tell me about a time when you had to utilise problem-solving skills to find a solution.

  • How would you handle a situation that requires disciplinary action with an employee?

  • How would you ensure that we're selling key products as part of wider business objectives?

  • What steps would you take if you noticed the store was underperforming?

  • How would you assist during the recruitment of new retail staff?

Related: Job interview tips: how to make a great impression

Retail manager interview questions with sample answers

While it isn't advisable to appear overly rehearsed in your responses to interview questions, to ensure your answers seem authentic, preparing example responses can help you to articulate your points optimally. Example answers include:

What skills do you have that make you an effective retail manager?

It's crucial that a retail manager has good leadership qualities and the skills necessary to lead a team. You may experience this question in a retail manager interview as an employer wants to establish that you have the necessary abilities to run a store and manage employees. When you're preparing an answer to this question, consider highlighting your organisational skills, time management, communication and responsible attitude. You may want to demonstrate experience in being adaptable, motivational and having the ability to plan and think strategically.

Example: 'A strength that I feel makes me an effective manager is my ability to listen and understand the needs of my employees. My communication skills allow me to quickly identify challenges they may face, build rapport and support positive changes in the workplace to create a more satisfactory working environment. This helps build employee retention, especially in an industry such as retail where finding long-term, loyal employees can be challenging.

'I'm also an extremely organised person in terms of time management and managing multiple responsibilities at once. I understand the importance of delegating where necessary and ensuring that we complete tasks on time and to a high standard. I like to provide my team with as much information as possible to ensure they feel confident in their tasks and comfortable working as part of a wider team. Being able to provide this support is what I feel makes me an effective retail manager.'

Related: How to become a sales manager (with tips and salary info)

What is your preferred management style?

This is a common question that interviewers use to determine how that fits in with their company values. Depending on the business you work for, your team may require more input from you or be more autonomous. Be honest in your response but consider reading through the job posting first. The job description often provides a clear example of the management style they're looking for and how that impacts your responsibilities. Within this answer, you want to demonstrate that you're the right personality fit for the company while still being able to provide quality output.

Example: 'I feel it's important to have a balanced approach to management. I want the team to understand that I am a team leader they can trust with decision making but also that I'm open to suggestions. Having a supportive, assertive manager means that employees feel comfortable coming to me with recommendations or concerns and can have a direct impact on their working environment.

'This approach builds employee morale and ultimately improves employee retention. I'm not afraid to work through other responsibilities outside of my daily duties if it's necessary. This creates a more collaborative atmosphere and helps me build a rapport with my team. With that in mind, I understand that your current team works relatively independently and my input is more around ensuring everyone stays on task and contributing to common objectives.'

Related: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

Can you give me an example of when you dealt with conflict in the store?

Customer service is a core part of any retail role and management figures often have to directly deal with complaints. Interviewers ask this question to ensure that you understand the importance of customer service and the impact it can have on the brand. If you can, provide an example of when you've dealt with conflict from customers and how you always try to offer the very best customer service.

Example: 'In the past, I've experienced a customer that wanted to purchase clothing in a certain size we didn't have in stock. As our team wasn't able to provide the items to the customer, they became irate and confrontational and demanded to speak to the manager. This required me to be as tactful as possible and calmly explain that while I understood their frustrations, I wasn't able to assist any further as our delivery was not due for another week.

'While I couldn't provide the exact item, I did offer to help them find an alternative, similar item within the store or order their requested item from another branch. This alleviated the situation and they agreed to us placing an online order that they could collect when it arrived in store. This was a challenging situation that required good interpersonal skills and problem-solving to find a satisfactory solution. Ultimately, it's important to help the customer as much as the situation or company policy allows.'

Related: How to do well in an interview: tips to help you prepare

Do you have any experience in dealing with stressful situations?

It's typical for retail employees to experience stressful situations. Interviewers ask this question to ensure that a retail manager can demonstrate a calm demeanour and solid decision-making skills. In your answer, you may highlight a situation that shows you utilising these skills and how that experience has helped you prepare for the role you're applying for.

Example: 'I've found that I respond well to high-pressure situations and can remain calm while providing clear and direct instructions. It's important to be able to solve problems rather than let them contribute to the stress levels of myself and the team. Focusing on solutions and making clear decisions can usually mitigate stressful situations from having a larger impact.

'An example of a stressful situation I faced in my last role is being understaffed during one of our busiest holiday periods. We had a team member call in sick 10 minutes before the store opened which required us to re-organise our efforts. By effectively delegating different tasks to team members that could take on the workload and fulfilling any outstanding responsibilities myself, we operated the store to our usual standard and didn't experience any decrease in sales or customer satisfaction.'

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