Retail is booming in our consumer society. People love to shop around, spend money, and enjoy a short feeling of happiness provided by a new dress, good cup of coffee, or a new Lamborghini. And though many markets moved primarily online, retail giants still run hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands stores across the world. District manager is a mid-level managerial job. Your primarily responsibility will be to oversee the operations of multiple stores in a certain geographic area (district), and everything that belongs to it. It is a prestigious job title, and you will almost always compete with many other candidates in the interviews.

Hiring managers will inquire about your motivation, goals, experience, and most importantly about your attitude to various situations that can happen in your job (revenues of a store dropping, conflict with a store manager, struggling to meet sales goals for the district, communication issues, etc). Let’s have a look at the questions you may face, and what you should say to make a great impression on your interviewers.


Why do you want to work as a district manager?

You should talk mostly about things you want to bring onboard. That means your experience from retail management, excellent planning and organizational skills, experience with hiring people and leading interviews, and other skills and abilities that will help you in the role.

Then you should talk about your expectations on the job. You can say that you’d like to experience a higher degree of responsibility than the one you’ve experienced so far, which always goes hand in hand with better compensation. Or you can simply say that after everything you’ve done in retail so far, you feel the job to be the right choice for you, considering your strengths, personality, and expectations.


Can you please tell us more about your experience in retail management?

It will be very hard to get this job unless you have relevant experience. Now, it doesn’t mean that you had to manage a group of stores before. A job of a store manager, or operations manager, or even just any managerial role in retail will suffice, as long as you convince them with your interview answers.

While talking about your experience, you should focus on tangible achievements. For example, maybe the store you managed before improved the revenue by 20% each year. Or you managed to get employee fluctuation under control in your last retail job, while before it was a huge problem for them. You can also mention a couple of references at this point, people who can confirm your claims when it comes to your former jobs.

* May also interest you: Territory Sales Manager interview questions.


What do you know about our brand, about our stores?

A good research is absolutely pivotal in this case. You should spend hours reading about their brand. And now I do not mean only their corporate website. Learn what Wikipedia has to say, try to find their financial statements online, check each and every social media channel of the company, browse the news, and do not forget to read also something about the careers of the leading figures.

You should actually be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps even suggest some areas for improvement, that means something they can do differently in the district, in order to achieve better results. Or, on the contrary, you can compliment them for something they do exceptionally well. One way or another, they should get an impression that you’ve spent some time preparing for the meeting, and that the interview is extremely important for you. Sometimes they may also ask you what your favorite brand is, and in an ideal case you should say it is their brand, and offer some reasoning for such an answer.

What would you do to ensure optimal productivity across different stores in the district?

The most important thing is to show proactive approach to your work. You can say that first and foremost you will do your best to have top-class store managers in place–either you’ll hire them, or you identify the training needs of existing managers, and help them improve in what they do.

Then you can talk about having clear key performance indicators for the stores, and a daily contact with the operations. This can mean anything from a short phone call with the store manager to personal visit to the store, depending on the geographical area, and the number of stores falling within your area.

You can also talk about brand building and marketing efforts in the area, making sure to improve the brand awareness in the entire district, something the individual stores will benefit from.


In your opinion, what role do data play in the job of a district manager?

You should give them high importance. Ensure the interviewers that you do not plan to rely on guesses or a help of an oracle. On the contrary, you will collect as much data about each store and their customers as possible (from both operational and legal standpoint), and then you will work with data, looking for trends, comparing individual stores, and trying to understand why one performs better than the other, and finding areas for improvement.

You can add an example from your former job as well, explaining how data collection and analysis helped you to make some good decisions, or mention particular software programs and data collection tools you’ve used previously.


Tell us about a time when you made a mistake hiring someone

Each manager who’d been in the business for at least a couple of years had to hire someone, and also fire someone. Interviewers can inquire about both scenarios. Wrong hire happens to everyone, even the most skilled recruiters and interviewers. Hence they do not expect you to say that you’ve never made a wrong hire.

On the contrary, you should admit making a mistake, explain why it happened, why you hired a wrong person, and the lesson you learned in the situation. Maybe you underestimated the interviews, did not ask enough questions, or you didn’t check the references just to find out later that your new employee had told you lies in the interviews.

Or you picked a smart guy but one who didn’t fit the team, and made the atmosphere in the workplace miserable… I am sure you have some experience, and you should not hesitate narrating it in the interviews, including details. As long as you can admit making a mistake, and demonstrate some experience¬† with hiring and interviewing with your answer, you are good to go.


Other questions you may face in your interview for a job of a district manager

  • Tell us about a time when you had to motivate someone in work.
  • Describe a situation when you failed to reach a goal.
  • If we hire you for this job, what goals will you set for yourself for the first year in the district?
  • Tell us about a time when you had to comply with a rule or procedure you didn’t agree with.
  • What are your expectations on the senior managers from the company?
  • What is the most competitive situation you’ve experienced?
  • In your opinion, what is our USP? How do our stores stand out from the competition?


Final thoughts, next steps

Interview for a job of a district manager belongs to difficult job interviews. First of all, you will always compete with several other experienced managers for the position, each of them hungry to outclass the others and get the job. This alone makes the interview difficult, regardless of the questions. But questions won’t be easy either…

On the contrary, you will have to demonstrate critical thinking, ability so solve problems, managerial experience, and demonstrate right attitude to all sorts of situations that can happen in the job. Do a good research about your future employer, and try to prepare for all possible questions. I hope you will manage to do so, and wish yo best of luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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