35 Retail Job Interview Questions and Example Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 April 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.

Making a positive impression during an interview when applying for jobs in the retail industry can have a significant impact on your success as a candidate. Retail professionals often work directly with members of the public, so being able to present yourself eloquently and answer questions thoughtfully can help you express your aptitude for success. Learning about some of the common questions that hiring managers ask during retail interviews can help you prepare your answers and feel more confident before your interview.

In this article, we share a list of retail job interview questions, then provide example answers you can use as a guide when rehearsing your own responses.

Related: How to Create a Cover Letter for a Retail Position

General retail job interview questions

When interviewing for a retail position, the hiring manager may start by asking some general questions about your experience, goals, working style and personality. These questions can help them assess your overall characteristics as an employee, which they can then apply to a retail setting. Some examples of general questions include:

  • How did you hear about this position?

  • What do you know about our company?

  • What do you hope to gain from this position?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • Why did you leave your last job?

  • What is your dream job?

  • What do you enjoy as a recreational activity?

  • What level of time commitment are you looking for in this job?

  • What is one word your former coworkers would use to describe you?

  • Tell me about a time you overcame a challenge at a previous job.

  • What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Related: 19 Popular Retail Job Types (With Salaries and Duties)

Questions about retail experience and background

You can expect hiring managers to ask direct questions about your experience in retail positions and handling responsibilities related to retail roles. They may also discuss certain skills that retail professionals frequently use to complete their duties. Some questions interviewers may ask about your background include:

  • How long have you worked in retail?

  • What type of retail stores have you worked for in the past?

  • Do you prefer working at a register or on the sales floor?

  • How comfortable are you offering styling suggestions to customers?

  • Do you have experience managing inventory?

  • Are you experienced with folding and presenting clothes for sale on the floor?

  • Are you comfortable pitching customers to sign up for the company credit card?

  • Tell me about a time a rush of customers entered your store at once and how you handled it.

  • How long do you intend to stay in retail as a career?

  • Have you ever been a manager or informally placed in charge of running a shift at a previous retail job?

Related: What Is Retail Management? (With Types and Benefits)

In-depth retail questions

After establishing your general qualifications for the position, interviewers often ask situational and behavioural questions that relate to specific retail scenarios:

  • What might you do if you realised you gave a customer the incorrect change?

  • How might you respond if a customer is rude to a coworker?

  • What do you do if a customer wishes to pay for a large order entirely with change?

  • What might you do if you suspect a customer of theft?

  • What might you do if you just closed the store and a customer knocked asking to come in and make a purchase?

  • Tell me about a time you had a leadership opportunity and how you responded to the challenge.

  • Tell me about a time you exceeded a customer's expectations.

  • What is your preferred method of approaching a customer and encouraging them to make a purchase?

  • Identify a time in your previous job where you noticed a problem, proposed a solution and saw your idea improve store performance.

Related: 15 Common Difficult Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

5 sample answers to common retail interview questions

Here are a few examples of common retail questions with explanations of why hiring managers ask those questions and sample answers for each one. Review the questions below to brainstorm responses for an upcoming retail job interview:

1. Is the customer always right?

Many retail establishments promote the mindset of pleasing the customer, but employers may also expect you to uphold store policies and manage customer expectations. Hiring managers may ask this question to learn about your mindset when interacting with customers and how you balance a customer's desires with practical situations in a retail environment. When responding, try talking about how you communicate with customers and negotiate to create positive outcomes regardless of the situation.

Example: "When working in retail, I feel that it's important to strive to help each customer to their satisfaction. If a customer has a request that I'm not able to fulfil, I thoroughly explain company policies so they understand any limitations, then think about other ways to resolve their issue. For example, my last employer only allowed refunds for 30 days. When a customer insisted on a refund past this period, I often helped find a compromise by providing an exchange or a discount on a future purchase instead."

2. What do you do when a customer asks questions about products that you aren't sure how to answer?

Although retail associates at speciality stores, like home improvement or crafting stores, often provide detailed advice to customers on how to complete projects, many retail professionals only have limited knowledge about all the products a store sells. Interviewers may ask this question to learn about how you react when customers seek assistance that you may not know how to provide. Discussing your problem-solving skills and explaining ways to learn the information can show that you're dedicated to helping the customer and providing them with a quality experience in the store.

Example: "At my last job, I personally used many of the products, so it was usually easy to help customers. When I didn't know the answer to a question from the customer, I started by reviewing the product's packaging to see if the answers were readily available in the product description. If I couldn't find the information myself, I referred them to a colleague or manager. In the event that they're unavailable, I provided suggestions for how the customer might find the information themselves by recommending helpful websites other resources."

3. How might you respond if your shift is scheduled to end at 4 p.m., but your replacement on the night shift hasn't arrived yet, leaving just one other cashier on the register?

Unexpected situations can often occur in retail environments, including issues with colleagues being late or unavailable for their shifts. Successful retail professionals work as part of a team with their coworkers to accomplish goals for the store, so it's important to demonstrate a team-oriented mindset when answering this question. Focusing on how you can be helpful to others and collaborate with your team to solve problems can show your ability to thrive in a retail position. You can use examples from your past experience to demonstrate your dedication to your team.

Example: “If a coworker is running late and in need of help, I'd remain on my register until they arrived or the manager can find a replacement. It's important to be willing to help your coworkers, so I would make sure the other cashier had the help they need for their shift before I leave. If I had an urgent appointment and was unable to stay, I'd help my manager and cashier call other coworkers to cover them.”

4. What do you feel are the three most essential qualities for a retail associate to possess?

A good response to this question typically describes a combination of personality traits and skills that you can apply to a retail environment. Hiring managers may ask about key qualities for a retail job to learn about your own perception of the role and determine if you have an accurate understanding of the requirements for a retail job. Your answer to this question can also show which of your own skills you value most, indicating what assets you can contribute to the team. Qualities to discuss may include friendliness, positivity, organisation skills, teamwork and communication.

Example: “I feel that honesty is one of the most important characteristics for a retail professional because it's my responsibility to represent the features of the products I sell accurately. I also believe cheerfulness is important because customers want to enjoy themselves, and the way I represent myself during a conversation can influence their experience while shopping. Finally, patience is a key skill because it helps you remain calm during conflicts and provide quality service regardless of any outside stressors.”

5. What do you enjoy most about working in retail?

During your interview, it's helpful to express your interest in retail and show that you're passionate about the work that you do. There are many aspects of working in retail, ranging from the interpersonal responsibilities of interacting with customers to meticulous tasks like organising inventory. Choose a retail responsibility or skill you enjoy and discuss why you enjoy that aspect of your work.

Example: "I most enjoy being able to interact with so many new personalities each day. Having conversations with customers about the products helps me create a sense of community within the store. I enjoy knowing that my interactions can create a positive impression on customers and convince them to shop at the store again."

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