How to stand out in your retail interview against other candidates
Regardless of the sector, standing out in an interview is always a challenge. There is always a balance to be struck. You want to come across as being confident – but not over-confident. Similarly, you want to show your self-awareness – but shouldn’t dwell on weaknesses or mistakes you might have made in the past.
Generic (and obvious) tips, such as doing your homework on the company beforehand, arriving in good time, and dressing appropriately will always put you in the best position to perform of your best. But, how do you make sure you stand out from the rest?
Understand the role you are applying for
This sounds obvious – and it is – but it is still one of the most common mistakes that candidates make in retail interviews. In retail, there are some ‘common denominators’: the customer and sales are never too far from the equation in any role, but when it comes to store management (or any management position) it is vital that candidates fully understand what management is. A stand-out candidate will appreciate this and approach the interview in a certain way. A run-of-the-mill candidate will fail to acknowledge this and proceed to highlight their sales skills instead.
A manager achieves results through the teams they manage – not their own sales prowess. Skills in coaching and motivating others should be focused on. It’s all about how you get others to sell and serve, not how well you sell and serve yourself that is important.
If you want to stand out in a retail interview you will need to approach behaviour-style questions with confidence. It is these type of questions that many candidates fall down on.
Research the Company
Candidates who stand out from the crowd will be those that show the diligence and determination to find out as much as they can about their prospective employers before an interview. The basics, such as the number of stores and what the company’s mission statement is, are relatively easy to find out. It’s always wise to take the research further still, by paying a visit to a store to look at the product lines and layout – and also to observe the level of customer service. These are the types of things that can be explored further at interview.
Ask Probing Questions
The ‘Have you got any questions you would like to ask?’ section of an interview is a firmly established component of interviews in virtually every sector. It’s an opportunity that should not be missed. What’s more, silence, or failure to ask questions that probe smack of a lack of interest and/or knowledge of the company and the position.
Ultimately, employers will be interested in ‘the why’ – why a candidate wants to work for this retailer and not its competitors. Avoid the obvious appeal of working with a brand because of its size and success. Focus instead on the values of a brand and on highlighting how you share those values.