Mystery shopping is a relatively young concept which has already found its way into mainstream retail. Virtually all big stores (and many small ones) offering groceries, or jewelry, or cosmetics, clothes, sports equipment, or even services, rely on mystery shoppers to help them assess the real level of customer service their employees provide to regular customers, and more.

It’s an interesting job, a never ending role play that will take you to places and let you try stuff, while someone else will pay for your shopping. And while it’s not the best paid job in the world, it can sometimes pay up to $100 for a single assignment in a store–depending on the complexity of your shopping tasks. Let’s have a look at few questions you may face while interviewing for a position of a Mystery Shopper.

 

Why do you want to work as a Mystery Shopper?

Because you love to hang out in the shopping malls, spending money–ideally not your own. You enjoy shopping, trying on things, teasing the sales associates, having fun…

Perhaps this is the main reason why you apply or the position, but you should refer also to something else. Try to connect your skills and personal traits with the job description. Say that you have excellent observation skills, can play different roles (communicative customer, angry customer, or even a simple one), and basically enjoy talking to people.

With your skillset, vast experience with shopping in different places and types of stores, and passion for excellent customer service (or at least for recognizing it in the store), position of a Mystery Shopper seems like a perfect choice to you.

 

How do you plan to stay discrete while playing a customer?

The best way to pose as a regular customer is act like one–unless you have a special assignment, of course, and are to play an unhappy customer–for example. But in normal cases, say that you will simply try to fit it.

You will look at things other customers look at, ask logical questions, you won’t wear any extraordinary clothes, or try to stand out in any other way. What’s more, you won’t make any notes while still in the shop, to not attract attention and reveal your true objective.

And when you are supposed to ask a question customer would not normally ask, you won’t just simply ask it, but will try to create a realistic shopping situation in which the question makes sense. One way or another, you will do your best to act as a completely random customer.

Do you have a driving license? Can you tell us more about your driving skills?

You can get a variety of assignments as a mystery shopper. They may ask you to make 10 purchases in a certain store, one day each. But they may also ask you to travel to places, even to distant locations, if an agency/organization employing you works with clients from far away, or you are to test employees in different locations for the same client. Driving license definitely helps, especially if we talk about location with poor network of public transport.

Ensure the hiring managers that you do not mind driving (or even enjoy it), of course as long as they provide the car, or cover your travel expenses. You can specify the number of miles you’ve covered in your life so far, and types of vehicles you drove. Just to make it simple for them to imagine how well you can drive, and whether they can entrust you with their company vehicle.

 

How would you remain impartial while reviewing your favorite store?

In most agencies you will get a chance to refuse an assignment, exactly for this reason. If you visit the place often and they like you there (or dislike you), your experience as a mystery shopper won’t really be objective…

Anyway, you won’t have this luxury in all places, and hence they ask this question. You actually have a few options for a good answer. First one is saying that you want to make your favorite store even better. At the end of the day, there is always room for improvement. Hence you will remain impartial, tying to spot small imperfections in your favorite place, report on them, and eventually help them to make the place better.

Another option is that you’d admit your sympathies to the store, or to staff members, and suggest someone else to take the assignment–some other, unbiased mystery shopper. If there is one working with you, of course.

 

What is your availability?

Due to the nature of the job, most mystery shopper positions are part time. Students form the majority of applicants as well. If it is also your case, you can prepare a clear schedule for the entire week (most shops are open on Sunday also), and clearly explain the hiring managers when you can work, and when you are at school (or taking care of some other assignments).

It is also important to show some flexibility. They should not get an impression that the position with them is on the last place of your priorities list. It doesn’t have to be the first one (that’s reserved for your school or full time job, or family commitments), but it shouldn’t be the last one…

 

5 other questions you may face in your mystery shopper job interview

  • Tell us about some memorable shopping experience you had. Describe what happened and why it stayed in your memory.
  • How would you ensure that you do not forget the important data from your visits to the stores?
  • Are there any types of stores or locations in which you do not feel comfortable working as a mystery shopper?
  • How would you describe your communication skills?
  • What payment model do you prefer (per hour, per job, per month), and what are you salary expectations?

 

Conclusion, next steps

Interview for a role of a Mystery Shopper does not belong to difficult job interviews. Your employer will typically provide you an excellent training, and you will quickly learn how to handle the job. Hence it make no sense for them to ask you some highly technical questions about the process of mystery shopping.

As long as you show enthusiasm for the work (and for shopping), ability to learn quickly, and willingness to  sacrifice something for the job (perhaps traveling a lot) they will typically give you a chance. I hope you will succeed and wish you good luck!

Matthew

May also interest you:

  • How to overcome interview nerves – 4 techniques that will help you get rid of anxiety and show your very best on the big day.
  • Salary negotiation tips – There is definitely some room for negotiation in this interview. Learn how to get the best possible offer at the end of your meeting with the hiring managers.
Matthew Chulaw
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