Smiling woman at her retail job

How to answer retail job interview questions

Written by Colleen Clarke
Posted on July 3, 2015

You have made the decision that retail is where you would like to start your working life. The hours are flexible, the mall is near your home, and the people watching is hot. You might be allowed to wear the store’s clothing and you will help shoppers and talk about cool product all day long. There is only one glitch, you have never worked for anyone before, been on an interview or have any idea what you have to offer a retailer, aside from your love of their product.

Here are some answers to questions you might be asked in an interview.

Q. Have you worked in retail before? (Let’s assume you haven’t. Think about whether you have ever sold anything to anyone, how about selling an idea to your parents? Think about how you like sales associates to sell to you.)

A. I have helped many people make buying decisions (which by the way is the definition of selling). I shop with my mom and my friends all the time and I have a very good sense of what looks good on someone and what doesn’t. Also I have good color sense. I know about fabrics as well as I’ve been sewing my own clothes since 9th grade (and took Home Economics throughout high school.)

I am a friendly person so I am comfortable approaching people and I believe that if you can get someone to like you and warm up to you they will want you to help them solve their problem.

Q. Can you work for a minimum of 16 hours a week?

A. During the summer I would appreciate full time hours, however before school is finished I could make it work if the hours are spread out. My school work is important, but I take all my commitments seriously and would be happy to work around whatever schedule you need filled.

Q. Can you work shifts? late nights and early mornings? Weekends?

A. Once school is finished I am available for pretty much any shift seven days a week. When classes are on, I’ll just have to work around those specific times. 

Q. Why do you want to work in retail?

A. I want to work for your company in this location. I have been a regular customer of your store for a long time and have always been treated well when I come in to shop. I really like helping people, I like meeting new people and I welcome an opportunity to learn more about selling, merchandising and product knowledge. 


B. I want to work in retail because I like the people aspect of the business. I like helping people and meeting people ( and I’ve always wanted to work in a shopping mall) and making a difference in peoples’ lives. Shopping makes people happy when they find what they like and I’d like to be a part of that.


C. I think that being able to sell is a skill that will help me throughout my entire career no matter what career I decide on. I want to become a great salesperson, learn negotiating skills and how to communicate with different kinds of people.

Q. Why should I hire you?

A. You should hire me because I am going to provide excellent customer service which will result in customers coming back again and again which means the store makes more money.

As in any interview, sit up straight, look the interview in the eyes, smile as much as you can, use correct grammar, and don’t pepper your speech with slang expressions. Know that the interview is about the company and the interviewer and not about you. Hiring someone is a business decision, so stay focused on how you can help the retailer succeed.