5 Interview Questions Every Retailer Should Ask Prospective New Hires

Your retail business is only as good as the quality of the customer service and retail selling skills of your team members.  Therefore, hiring is one of the most important and critical tasks for any store owner, store manager, or field manager. 

But how do you know who is most qualified for the job and how do you determine which candidates will be able to meet or even exceed your performance expectations?  The truth is that many job candidates are able to make a good impression for the hour our two you invest in the retail interview process.  The key is ensuring that they are able to impress for the months and years to come.  The key is asking questions that will draw out the specific answers that will give you the confidence that you need to make a great hiring decision.

Nothing is certain, of course, but the five questions below will help you see deeper into the candidate's mind and make the decision that is best for your business.

1. Give an example of a time when you had to solve a problem for a customer?

Whether it is locating a hard to find item, resolving a customer complaint, or matching a solution to a customer’s needs, the best retail employees are able to solve problems for customers.  You need employees who can take initiative when necessary and make a decision when it needs to be made. This question forces candidates to demonstrate that they have had to deal with these circumstances.

2. Give an example of a time when you had a goal and were able to attain it?

                This question gives the candidate a chance to brag about their accomplishments.  But the real value of this question can be found in learning about the challenges they encountered and how they overcame them.

3. Tell me about a time that you had to deal with a difficult person and how you resolved the situation?

                Whether it is a coworker or a customer, retail employees will need to work with a wide range of people and personalities.  Their ability to adapt to and work productively with different personalities is critical to their ability to drive sales and improve profits.

4. What have you done to demonstrate initiative and willingness to do more than the minimum that was expected of you?

                Running a successful retail business is all about trust.  You need employees that you can depend on and believe in, even when you aren't around. If you hire retail employees that are self-motivated and action-oriented, you can be sure that your business will be in good hand when you are focused on back-office activities.

5. Why should we hire you?

                In a retail business setting your team members will need to be able to persuade customers to invest in your products and services.  Therefore this is a good opportunity for the candidate to persuade you about why you should hire them.  This question is the perfect way to open things up and allow the candidate to show you what they bring to the table.

Sometimes the best information can be gleaned from the detailed stories that your candidates can tell you about their past employment and life experiences.  A great hiring manager can pull those stories out and uncover the details that will help them to determine who the best candidates for employment are.

You can learn more about how to recruit, interview, and hire qualified retail employees by taking our retail training courses on this topic.  You can also learn more about our retail training programs by contacting us for a free one-hour consultation!

–          David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  As a 30 year veteran of the retail industry he has hired, trained, and performance managed thousands of retail sales representatives and retail managers.  You can learn more about instructor-led, e-learning, and other training solutions for retailers at www.retailertrainingservices.com.