9 ''Why'' Retail Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 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.

Retail is the sale of particular merchandise and services to consumers by a specific business entity. Companies that offer these services are referred to as retail outlets, including supermarkets, department stores, malls and speciality stores. Knowing how to interact with people as a retail employee and resolve customer complaints is essential. In this article, we enlist nine why retail interview questions to expect, explain how to respond to them and highlight essential skills required by retail employers.

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9 why retail interview questions

Here are some why retail interview questions to expect from hiring managers with examples of effective responses:

1. Why do you want to work in the retail industry?

When hiring managers ask this question, they want to determine whether you have a passion for working in the retail industry. In your response, focus on an aspect of the retail industry that resonates well with you or any learning opportunities that the industry offers you.

Example: ''I want to work in the retail industry because I am sociable and passionate about hospitality. I can assist customers with product information, recommendations and handle any customer complaints. I also feel that working in the industry would allow me to express my true personality as a people person.''

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: How to Stand Out When Changing Careers

2. Why is good customer service essential?

When hiring managers ask this question, they want to determine if your definition of customer service matches the company's definition of customer service. Find out about the specific company's mission and match your answer to the point that resonates most with you.

Example: ''Excellent customer service is essential for brand goodwill, overall customer satisfaction and it promotes customer loyalty. Since the retailer's mission is to promote diversity and inclusion across diverse cultures, I possess diverse multilingual capabilities. I grew up in various cities on different continents, learnt and interacted with other cultures and sharpened my language skills. I can understand customer cross-cultural needs and concerns and offer excellent customer service.''

3. Why do you want to work in this retail store?

Hiring managers want to know if you're enthusiastic about the products, services or aware of the company. To answer this question, focus on the company, its products, services and their usefulness to the consumers.

Example: "I would like to work in this retail store is because its values resonate with my personal principles. I am passionate about minimising waste production and encouraging the consumption of eco-friendly products. I feel that working with this retail store would allow me to advocate for a greener future and spread public awareness to the customers.''

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

4. Why do customers shop at this store?

The hiring manager may be looking to know whether you're familiar with their products or services. Find out the best-selling products or services provided by the retailer before your interview. Knowing them shows that you have researched the company and the standard that distinguishes them from their competitors in the retail industry.

Example: ''Customers shop at this store because it offers excellent customer service and it has a good reputation from its corporate social responsibility initiatives. You also offer high-quality products and I personally love the store's best-selling cologne.''

5. Why is flexibility and availability essential for retail employees?

When a hiring manager asks this question, they may want to determine your availability and flexibility, since the retail industry has very long hours that require employees to work in shifts. In your reply, be honest about your availability and any obligations you may have, such as attending part-time classes.

Example: ''I am a part-time student but I am available full-time on Mondays and Wednesdays. Evening shifts are also convenient for me throughout the week. To compensate for the period that I am attending classes, I am willing to take overtime shifts on my free days and weekends.''

6. Why is adaptability required when your colleague fails to arrive at work on time?

Hiring managers may want to see your problem-solving skills. A proper response entails finding out why the colleague is late, then discussing options on filling the resource gap with your manager if your colleague can't make it to their shift.

Example: ''If my counterpart is late, I would cover their shift so that it's not short-staffed. If they're unwell and can't make it, I can work with my manager to come up with a schedule to help cover the shift for them.''

7. Why is handling dissatisfied customers critical?

When asking this question, the hiring manager may want to know how you manage critical situations. The ideal answer shows your ability to protect the brand's reputation while addressing the customer's concerns and deescalating the situation.

Example: "Handling dissatisfied customers is critical to protect the brand image and customer retention. For example, if a customer wants to return an item that doesn't meet the return policy and wants to speak to the manager regarding that matter, I would apologise to the customer and inform the manager about it. I would also follow up with the manager to know how to solve such a problem in the future.''

8. Why is working under pressure a vital role-specific skill?

The interviewer may ask this question to see if you're a good fit for the company's needs. In your reply, ensure that you state a skill you possess that benefits the company or helps you to boost your productivity.

Example: ''Working under pressure is a role-specific skill in the retail industry to maintain good customer relationships. I can be adaptable to the needy nature of the industry, especially in holiday seasons where there's increased demand and consumption of goods. I can adjust to the job environment to serve customers efficiently.''

9. Why is it crucial to have a technology backup plan?

Hiring managers may use this question to assess your problem solving and communication skills because technological mishaps can happen at any time. The ideal response describes how you might solve the problem by quickly finding an alternative to progress with the retail operation.

Example: ''Having a technology backup plan is required in the retail industry to achieve consistent service quality. For example, if a payment option is down, I would find an alternative payment method, inform the customers of the situation and apologise for any inconvenience caused."

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Vital skills often required by retail employers

Hiring managers in the retail industry often look for specific skills in employees to ensure high-quality customer service at their retail outlets. Here's a list of the important soft skills and hard skills that may help you succeed in a retail role.

Soft skills

Soft skills are abilities related to working and connecting with other people. Given the interactive nature of the retail industry, soft skills are vital for hiring managers to assess during the hiring and interviewing process. They include:

  • Communication skills: Listening and acting on customer complaints or requests increases customers' satisfaction with the retailer. Effective communication among team members improves overall productivity and ensures you meet your goals.

  • Reliability: Hiring managers look for employees who are punctual and energetic. This helps retail operations run smoothly, especially during busy seasons.

  • Meticulousness: Hiring managers prefer meticulous professionals because they're highly productive and guarantee customer satisfaction. Detail-oriented employees flourish in the retail industry because they learn they can manage both inventory and customers efficiently.

  • Ability to work under pressure: Hiring managers prefer employees who can deal with urgent customer needs without compromising the retail store's brand reputation. Managing emotions during challenging circumstances can help you make reliable decisions that maintain profitability.

  • Relatability: As a retail professional, it's important to relate to your customers' feelings and show concern for their situation. Making a customer feel valued, heard and validated builds trust and increases customer loyalty.

Related: 10 Important Negotiation Skills: Examples and Tips

Hard skills

Hard skills are teachable abilities. Often, you learn them in a classroom setting. Hard skills are important because they help you tackle role-specific duties. Here are some technical skills for your consideration:

  • Math and financial skills: Quick calculation and thinking are highly valuable for retail employees, especially when items have discounts. For instance, math skills can help you assess whether you're overcharging or undercharging a customer.

  • Product knowledge: A level of product knowledge is necessary for all retail employees. This way, you can answer customers' questions competently and recommend products confidently.

  • Technical literacy: Basic tech literacy skills are vital for retail employers to execute quick and practical tasks. Retail outlets use technological tools such as point-of-sale systems (POS) and digital catalogues to handle customer purchases efficiently.

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