So you’ve landed an interview for one of your favourite retail brands.
You’ve wanted a position here for a while; you’re a big fan of their products, the vibe of the place and you know you’ll fit in well with the kind of staff they employ.
The only hurdle now is to make it through the interview process.
Retail interviews can be tricky for the unprepared, especially now in our current Covid world; employers are looking for a specific set of skills, so I’ve put together this guide to help you plan for every eventuality.
Let’s start with an all-important stage – your interview prep.
Do Your Pre Interview Research
There is a good chance that you will have some knowledge of the brand already – there will have been something that made you apply for their vacancy in the first place.
To prepare, write down everything you like about the company. This could be their products, their advertising style, the music they play in-store, their overall brand ethics, a great experience you had in one of their stores, etc.
Your positive previous experiences with the company are great topics to bring up in the interview – they show you are aware of how the retail organisation appears to the general public and what they’re ‘about’.
Additionally, do your research on the company online – use their website, social media and online review sites to see what kind of employer brand they exude. Look for any news you can find on the company to talk about in the interview such as store openings or positive press releases.
When you’ve got a good base knowledge of the company you’re interviewing for, you will find it easier to give lengthy and more interesting answers. But what about those tricky interview questions that retail candidates sometimes get stuck on?
Since the pandemic, there has been a vast increase in video interviews, as employers look to make their recruitment processes as safe as possible.
Video interviews can be daunting if you have never taken part in one before, but there are a few tricks to help ease your nerves and portray your best self.
Dress for the occasion – still dress as smartly as you would for a normal interview, as this will get you into the interview mindset.
Find the right location – you will need to be somewhere quiet and with no distractions, such as a spare bedroom, and make sure you’ve got a strong and stable internet connection. Run a speed test before the interview to make sure. Sit somewhere with a natural light source and make sure you appear clearly on the screen.
Check your software – your interviewer or recruiter will have prepared you for which platform the interview will be taking place on, Zoom, Skype or something similar. Make sure you are familiar with the software and know how to pause the video, mute and unmute yourself.
Look into the camera – for maximum eye contact and to strike a connection with the interviewer, always look into the camera, and not at yourself on the screen.
Tricky Questions – Answered
Let me go through some of the more tricky interview questions that sometimes trip up retail candidates:
Q. Tell me about a time you made a mistake?
A. Here the interviewer is not looking to trip you up, they want to hear about not just the mistake you made, but how you approached and dealt with the situation. After talking about the mistake, always remember to tell them how you resolved the error!
Q. What is your biggest weakness?
A. This dreaded question needn’t be a big issue. The best way to answer this is to admit to a previous development area such as not being as organised as you’d like, struggling with delegation or preferring to work independently. The key here is to mention how you have or are currently working on getting better in this area; this demonstrates diligence and self-awareness – two key retail attributes.
Q. Why do you want to work for this company?
A. This question stumps many candidates, but what the interviewer is looking for is proof you’ve researched the company. Here is a great time to mention the things you found during your research and everything you like about their retail brand (over their competitors).
For example, you could say ‘I follow your company on Instagram, and I notice you post a lot about environmental issues which I haven’t seen from many other brands’.
So now you should be prepared for your one-to-one interview. But what about if you’re asked to attend a group interview or an interview day?
The Group Interview
A group interview is a day that is put on by the retailer where candidates are asked to participate in tasks and group activities. Despite the pandemic, you may still be asked to take part in a socially-distanced group interview.
The following are my suggestions, based on what our successful candidates do, to stand-out during a retail group interview:
Interact with everyone – speak to as many people as possible on the day.
Yes, you are competing with those around you, but don’t let this show! Be as friendly with every other candidate as you would be with the interviewer.
Listen carefully to what others have to say and don’t interrupt. Wait until someone has finished speaking before saying your piece. The interviewer is looking at how you interact with others and your ability to influence.
That said, you might need to speak in a slightly louder tone than usual, as group interviews can be noisy! Speak with purpose and confidence.
And finally, smile! Retail hiring managers are on the lookout for the friendliest candidates – a winning smile works wonders during the group interview.
Once you’re set with what to expect from either your one-to-one or your group interview; the next question is, what should you wear on your interview day?
What to Wear
The truth is that interview attire has become more casual as the years have gone by – it is no longer necessary or the norm to wear your smartest clothes for an interview; save these for weddings and award ceremonies!
For a retail interview, smart casual is now the expected norm – but this phrase can sometimes be misinterpreted, so let me clarify.
Start with – a clean, ironed, smart-ish top; think shirt or blouse (but no tie). Avoid T-shirts or anything with heavy embellishment or details (no zips, logos or cut-outs).
Then – trousers (or a skirt – but not above the knee) in a smart or smartish style in dark colours; think black, navy or grey (no white, cream or beige).
And don’t wear jeans unless you are interviewing for a clothing retailer whose staff are known for wearing the brand’s current fashions. Even then, make sure they are smart jeans with no rips and pair them with an even more stylish top.
Shoes – wear a sharp style in a dark colour such as brogues or loafers, and heels no more than a couple of inches.
Always wear clothes that fit and flatter and make you feel like your most confident self – you want to let your real personality come through as this is key in retail.
I share these retail interview tips with my candidates all the time, and I hope they will help you nail your next interview if you’ve got one coming up. If you’re currently looking for a new position – we can help.
We work with retail employees across the U.K. to help find them roles they love. To find out what opportunities we’ve got for you, get in contact with us here, or call our retail recruitment team on 01743 770280.
About C2 Recruitment
Originally established in 2008, C2 Recruitment specialises within the Retail, Fashion, Hospitality and Leisure sectors.
Our consultants come from the industries they specialise in and are renowned for giving the very best possible recruitment service to our clients and candidates chosen fields.
The C2 team recruits on a national scale across all specialist areas of Retail, Fashion and Hospitality.
To find out how we can help you with a recruitment or career query in these fields, call us on 01743 770280 or contact us here.