7 Retail Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 January 2023

Published 4 October 2021

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.

If you're interviewing for a retail position, you may be asked questions related to your customer service skills and sales abilities. Knowing some common interview questions could help you prepare your answers beforehand. In this article, we discuss common questions that candidates encounter when interviewing for retail positions, and provide sample answers so you can better prepare yourself.

Related: How To Use the STAR Interview Technique

7 common interview questions in the retail industry, with sample answers

Here are some examples:

1. Describe your experience working in retail.

If you have never worked in retail before, elaborate on other jobs you may have had that provided you with transferable skills that are relevant in the hospitality and/or customer service department.

Sample answer: "I have five years of experience in the retail industry. I started my retail career in a children's clothing store, where I worked as a sales specialist. While there, I learnt to quickly determine a customer's needs so I could assist them in picking out the products that they were looking for. I subsequently moved to a bookstore where I worked as an assistant store manager. There, I learned valuable leadership skills and conflict resolution techniques that helped me collaborate effectively with employees and customers."

Related: 35 Sales Rep Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

2. What are three essential qualities that retail associates should possess?

This is an opportunity for candidates to bring out positive personal traits of their own that are relevant to the retail industry. You can feature traits like friendliness, trustworthiness, honesty, integrity and/or patience.

Sample answer: “The first key quality is honesty. I've found that the best way to make a sale is to find clothes I truly believe suit the customer. I also believe cheerfulness is important in providing customers with an enjoyable experience. Finally, patience is valuable as finishing a sale could sometimes take time.”

3. Describe an encounter you've had with an unhappy customer.

Recruiters ask this to assess how candidates conduct themselves in times of conflict.

Sample answer: "While working as a cashier in a clothing store, I encountered a customer who wanted to return jeans she had purchased without a receipt. The store policy was that customers needed to produce receipts in order to receive refunds.

The customer was very unhappy when I communicated this to her. To help resolve the issue, I asked if she would be ok receiving a gift card instead. She agreed to this, and left the store feeling better."

Related: 35 Cashier Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

4. What do you do when customers ask you questions you don't know how to answer?

Recruiters ask this to assess if candidates can think quickly on their feet and refer relevant questions to other staff members.

Sample answer: “If I don't know the answer to a question, I'd refer the customer to a coworker of mine who may be better equipped to assist him/her. I will also offer alternative resources to the customer so they can find the answer they need, like the company website or a member of management."

5. What is your favourite part of working in retail?

Recruiters ask this to assess if candidates enjoy their work. You may provide one or two aspects of working in retail that you enjoy, or an example of a positive experience you had while working in retail.

Sample answer: "I enjoy getting to interact with a wide variety of people, and helping them find what they need. When I was a sales associate at a toy store. I often helped children pick out toys they enjoyed. It was a wonderful experience working with children and seeing them leave the store happier than when they came in."

Related: What Is Shift Work? (With Examples, Tips, Pros and Cons)

6. How would you respond if your coworkers arrive late, leaving you alone in the store after your shift is up?

Recruiters ask this to assess if a prospective candidate can be depended upon in times of crisis.

Sample answer: “If a coworker is running late, I would remain at my station until they arrive or a replacement can be found. I would never leave the store unattended.”

Related: How To Answer Situational Interview Questions

7. Do you believe that the customer is always right?

This is a contentious question in retail.

Sample answer: "I believe that good customer service involves accommodating the customer's request, regardless of whether they are right or wrong. I understand that customers become unhappy usually as a result of some type of miscommunication and that the best way to resolve most conflicts is with patience and empathy."

Related: 15 Signs You Will Get the Job After an Interview (With FAQs)

Tips for succeeding at your retail interview

Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Prepare your own questions to ask about the company and its practices

  • Thank your interviewer for their time before leaving, and send a follow-up letter or email to the hiring manager when you get home

The more prepared you are for your interview, the higher your chances for success will be.

Related: Common Behavioral Interview Questions and How To Answer Them

The models shown are for illustration purposes only and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

Explore more articles