Are you considering a career in the Retail sector? Is a job in retail your first option after leaving school or college? If so it’s common to feel nervous or anxious about your first retail job interview.

However, with some thought and preparation you can demonstrate you are genuinely interested and motivated. Learn how to prepare for your first retail job interview if you are considering a career in the Retail sector.

Why choose a career in Retail?

Some people consider the retail industry a good opportunity to enter employment. Others decide to make a career in retail.
There are so many different opportunities and a variety of career paths to consider. Are you interested in fashion, clothing, jewellery or footwear? Would you like to work for a large well-known department store or a small local boutique?

Perhaps you want to work in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry (FMCG), foods, beverages, toiletries, over-the-counter drugs and many other consumables?

You should consider all of this before your first Retail job interview. Having a clear idea of exactly what area you want to work in lets you demonstrate specialist knowledge.

On the other hand, being flexible can show you are willing to learn and work in many areas.

Carry out Market Research before your Retail job interview

retail job interview

If you are considering a career in Retail then do your homework before your Retail job interview. This is a rapidly changing industry which is affected by many factors. It will go in your favour if you demonstrate you’ve researched the industry and you understand the current trends.

Technology: Consumer trends and buying behaviour has dramatically changed over the last few years with on-line shopping. There are more methods to advertise and attract clients. There are a lot more opportunities behind the scenes for marketing and promoting products and service using social media and digital technology.

Costs: This is a huge factor affecting the retail market. More stores are moving out of the town centres to retail parks to avoid the high street costs.

Environmental concerns: This has been a hot topic and retailers are taking consumer concerns very seriously. More importantly they are acting on these concerns and changing the way they affect the environment by recycling for example. Some stores are no longer giving out disposal cups for their free coffee. McDonald’s and other retailers are working towards replacing their plastic straws with paper.

Understanding the different factors affecting the industry will stand you out from other candidates. It demonstrates you’ve taken the time to research and shows you are genuinely interested. Interviewers will ask you to explain what research you’ve done on their company and what understanding you have of current trends.

How and what to prepare for your Retail job interview

Whether you are invited to a telephone interview, a Skype or face-to-face interview, always do the same amount of research and preparation.

Read the Job Description: Most of the information you need will be in the job description. If you don’t get a job description, revert back to the job advert. Go through line-by-line the experience, skills and knowledge requirements of the job and consider how you match the criteria.

Review the Company’s website: Of course it’s important to know what the company does. What products or services do they provide to their clients? Look at the company’s history, why and how it was founded, what they’ve achieved so far and their aspirations going forward. You’ll find this information normally under the About Us header or the mission and vision statements.

Characteristics: Consider if you have the characteristics to be the right fit for this sector. Do you enjoy being around people? Are you happy dealing with customers over the telephone? Do you like solving problems or dealing successfully with complaints? Some people absolutely love turning an unhappy customer around. They love calming down an angry customer by solving their issues. Are you the type of person that likes helping or supporting customers with making decisions about the right product or service?

Key strengths and competencies required in retail:

  • Excellent customer service experience or skills
  • Good people management skills
  • Friendly and helpful nature
  • Interpersonal skills to be able to deal with unhappy customers
  • Manage complaints effectively
  • Problem solving and good questioning techniques
  • Good at handling money (basic math skills)

Typical questions you may be asked at your first Retail job interview

There are certain popular interview questions that you can expect to be asked at interview. Be prepared before you turn up for your first interview.

This starts by understanding the typical questions that are likely to be asked. You are likely to be asked these commonly asked interview questions:

• Tell me about yourself?
• What is your greatest strength?
• Why should we hire you?

Behavioural interview questions you may be asked at a Retail job interview

Behavioural interview questions or competency-based questions require you giving examples that show you have the skills required.
Think of how you’ve demonstrated these skills. Consider your work experience or activities outside of the work environment. Take into consideration voluntary work, Saturday jobs or any clubs you belong to. Do you have any hobbies that might demonstrate skills such as team work, communication, competitiveness etc?

Here are typical competency-based questions you may be asked:

• Give us an example of excellent customer service? What made this example particularly stand out?
• Tell us a time you went the extra mile for a customer? What did you do specifically to help this customer?
• Talk us through a time when you had to calm down an unhappy customer? What did you do to resolve their problem?

If you have no previous work experience they might ask you to describe what you think good customer service looks like. If you don’t have any work experience, it might be a good idea to gain some by volunteering.

Advantages of using a Professional Interview Coach for your Retail job interview

It doesn’t matter whether this is your first retail job interview or first management role in Retail. You need to be at your best during your interview.

Using the services of a good professional interview coach is something you should consider. Working together, you can put in place an individual plan to address your needs.

You can practice specific areas of concern and unique answers that won’t sound prepared – because they are true. Most importantly, they will give you coping strategies that will help you deal with interview nerves and anxiety.