As part of my part-time job as a Shift Supervisor in retail, I’ve had the opportunity to help conduct interviews and determine the fate of potential hires. Because of this, a lot of my friends typically ask me to do a fake interview with them before they go in for a real one, and I’ve realized that most people don’t know seemingly basic interview skills. Here are a few key things you need to remember when going to an interview for a retail position, although most of them are applicable to any workplace!
1) Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
Sometimes we want you to fill out additional paperwork when you come in for an interview, and if you’re interviewing as part of a group you often need to sign in. Try to arrive early for your interview, being late because you couldn’t find the right room isn’t a valid excuse, you should be coming early enough to get yourself sorted out. Most places will automatically disregard your application if you arrive late, it’s simply disrespectful.
2) Be nice to anyone you pass on the way in!
In retail interviews, you typically have to enter your potential workplace for an interview, which means walking part current employees. Always be polite to these people, as your interviewer will ask if anyone stood out (in a negative way) as they were passing through, and we always take that into consideration. One time during my first set of interviewing people, I was standing in a group of potential hires waiting for my manager to finish putting the room together for the interview process. Because most people that apply for my work are typically around my age, people assumed I was interviewing as well and one girl even told me she had an interview at a local restaurant directly after (oops). Although we didn’t intend for me check in on people, it does accidentally happen and no interviewer will forget any negative things you say about the company.
3) Dress accordingly.
Typically you hear people say “you can never be overdressed”, but in retail this isn’t true! Consider where you are applying. If you’re applying at a clothing store, make sure you’re wearing their product (especially on top, since it’s more noticeable than jeans or something), and similarly if you were applying for a fast food place, don’t wear a dress and heels! Use common sense, dress well but not overly dressy or overly sloppy. In general, make sure you aren’t showing a lot of skin (yes, even in the summer!) and make sure none of your undergarments are showing. Wear clothes that fit you well (if they’re too loose you look sloppy, if they’re too tight you look inappropriate). We disregarded someone in an interview because she was showing WAY too much cleavage (my male co-worker said he felt embarrassed even interviewing her!)
4) Do a little research on the company.
We probably don’t care if you know when our company was founded, who the owner of the company is or how many stores we have nationwide. However it is important that you know the basics, especially the hours that we’re open! Have you ever been asked to fill out a form of when you’re available to work? We’re not only asking you for your availability, we’re also checking whether you know our company and our hours! If you say you can work 7am-11pm everyday, but we’re not open on Sundays and close at 6pm everyday, you’ll look ridiculous!
5) Be prepared for scenario questions!
We love scenario questions! They’re basically setting you up to fail, since we give you an open ended question and genuinely want to know what you would do. There is no right answer, but there are LOTS of wrong ones! Automatically want to go to a manager for every small issue? Wrong answer. Don’t want to report a peer’s theft? Wrong answer. You need to practice a lot of scenario questions to master them, but I can almost guarantee there will be questions about aggravated customers, employee theft and general honesty! Practice, practice, practice!
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you conquer your next interview! Good luck!