Every bigger store needs a manager. They need someone to motivate the staff members, and ensure that they are on a sales floor (or behind the cash desk), and don’t waste their days smoking in the backyard, or hanging around chatting with customers.
A responsible person who will open and close the shop each day, someone to oversee the daily operations that happen in between the two moments. Simply a good manager. Can it be you?
In this article we will analyze some questions you may face in your interview, and think about the best way to answer each questions. Let’s start!
Please tell us something about yourself.
The first question, the icebreaker. Try to start with positive body language and enthusiasm in your voice. Talk mostly about relevant things–any positions you had in a retail store before (cashier, stock clerk, sales person, manager, etc). These jobs helped you to understand how things work in a store, the daily routine.
You can also mention any managerial or sales roles, and ensure the interviewers that you have a basic idea of the expectations they have on a good manager.
Remember that you will get an extensive training before starting the job, at least in all bigger retail chains. In some cases the training can take up to three months. Therefor, even if you do not have relevant experience you can still get the job–because you will learn everything.
But you must be confident and show the right attitude to work. If you have no experience, you can talk about your abilities and skills important for each good manager (communication skills, leadership, responsibility, persistence, attention to detail, etc).
Why do you want to work as a manager in our store?
Try to praise them for something. Perhaps their pricing policy, or the way in which they treat customers (speaking from first hand experience), the product selection, the philosophy they follow in the store, and so on.
Alternatively (if there’s nothing to praise them for in terms to customers and daily operations) you can talk about more prosaic reasons. For example that you live nearby the store (easy for you to travel there daily), or that they offer better salaries than their competitors, or better employee benefits.
One way or another, they should get the feeling that they are your first choice, or at least that you have some positive associations to the place.
How do you imagine a typical day in work in this store?
This is one of the most important questions in your store manager interview. Certainly you should not get carried away by the word “manager” in the job title. Many store managers spend the majority of their working days on the sales floor, sometimes helping other employees with basic tasks (cash handling, selling, stocking shelves, etc).
The worst thing you could do would be saying that you expect to sit in a comfy office, occasionally walking out, checking whether everyone is working.
Oppositely, try to tell them a story, a story of a daily routine of a responsible store manager. For example:
I imagine arriving early each day, before anyone else comes to the store. Opening the store I quickly check on stock and equipment, and whether we need to order anything, or do any repairs or whatever. When employees arrive I check whether nobody is missing, whether we are ready to start the day. During the opening hours I imagine spending most of my time directly in the store, supervising the employees and helping them with their duties. Besides that I imagine working on promotional activities, training new staff, placing orders, solving complaints of customers, and basically doing anything the day demands. That’s my basic idea, and I am sure that you have an excellent training program in place and that I will learn how to spend my day in the shop effectively, taking care of all my duties.
How would you motivate your staff members to work harder, or at least to maintain certain level of discipline and commitment?
Try to be creative with your answer. You won’t impress any HR manager or store owner saying that you would offer the workers a regular raise or a monthly bonus. Try to talk about some unorthodox ways of motivating people, or at least methods that won’t cost your employer extra money.
For example, you can say that you would try to build a strong team spirit in the workplace, the feeling of responsibility employees have for one another. Or that you will try to help the employees to see the connection of their personal goals and company goals.
You can even suggest letting them go home earlier, for example on Friday, if they manage to do the required amount of work during the week. Certainly you can find some unorthodox ideas that may work in different scenarios and stores. Think about them for a moment and surprise your prospective employer with an interesting recommendation.
Special Tip: Download all questions in a simple, one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
One of the employees does not respect your authority. What would you do?
This is a tricky situation and the right answer depends on the economic climate, and the situation in the given store. If it is easy to replace the employee (popular retail chain, many job applications), you can say that you would fire them. Of course after one friendly warning, and another warning–not so friendly though. If they still do not listen, they have to go…
But what to do if you cannot afford to terminate someone’s contract, because it would be super hard to find a replacement?
In such a case you should rely on your communication skills. Say that you would have a one-on-one meeting with the employee, and clearly try to understand what’s wrong. It can have something to do with you, but they may also face a problem in their private life or have some other reason to act as they do. You would try to communicate it with them and find a way out. Relocation or change of shift is also an option.
However, if they eventually don’t respect you, and fail to take care of their duties, they will have to go. You can’t afford such an employee in your team, since they can easily spoil the morale in the team, or induce disobedience in some of their colleagues.
What do you imagine when you hear the expression “excellent customer service”?
Do your research. Shop in the store before you interview for a job, and observe how the employees treat you. How do they greet you, whether they look you in the eyes, whether someone approaches you while you are checking the clothes/utensils/shoes/tennis rackets to give you an advice. And so on.
Try to recall your entire shopping experience from start to finish. The good things that happened while you were shopping in the place probably represent an excellent customer service from the point of view of your prospective employer. So you can simply narrate the experience in your interview.
Another alternative (when you cannot notice anything, or do not have an opportunity to visit the shop upfront) is saying something like that an excellent customer service means that each customer feels welcome, respected, and heard out while they are in the shop.
You can also say that one can identify excellent customer service following the results–if people return to the store, if they recommend it to their peers or online, it means that they enjoyed the experience in the store…
Other questions you may get in your store manager interview
- How would you monitor the performance of your staff members?
- What goals would you set for yourself in this job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
- Tell us about a time when you had to meet a tight deadline.
- What makes from you a good applicant for this position?
- Describe a situation when you had to deal with a poor performer on a team.
- What do you consider your biggest weakness as a manager?
- Tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership qualities.
- How would you help us promote this store?
- Tell us about a situation when you had to make a decision without having all information you needed.
- Describe a time when you went above and beyond.
- Do you have any questions?
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Conclusion and next steps
Store Manager is a fancy job title (often much more fancy than the actual job) and it typically attracts many applicants. And while you won’t necessarily face any super difficult questions in this interview, you will compete with many other people for the job. For this reason, the interview for a store manager can be classified as a difficult job interview.
You can improve your chances of succeeding by preparing for the questions in advance, and by doing a proper research about your future employer. The more you know about them, the easier it will be for you to connect with your interviewers (even on a personal level), and also to ask them right questions that demonstrate your honest interest and enthusiasm for the job. Do not underestimate your preparation, and try your best. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- How to overcome interview nerves – Do not let anxiety to get the better of you on a big day.
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to get as much as you deserve, or even more…