Interview questions for Retail Manager

We analyzed 173 interview reviews for Retail Manager from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

10 frequent non-technical questions for Retail Manager:

Tell me about yourself
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What skills are you looking to develop on your next job? Why?
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
How would you describe your work style?
Describe the most challenging work problem you faced in your last job
Why were you successful in your last role? Give a supporting example
Why did you leave your last job?
Who has inspired you in your life, and why?

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Retail Manager role ask soft skills interview questions 70% more frequently than for other roles.

Retail Manager interview question statistics

1. Tell me about yourselftop question

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AMy name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

BHello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

CHi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

DHi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

3. What skills are you looking to develop on your next job? Why?

How to answer

When employers ask you about skills you would like to develop, they are looking for honesty in the way you answer.

A common target of the question is to discover how motivated you are to extend yourself. If you are willing to learn, then you are probably more motivated to do the job well.

They might also be trying to determine whether you’ll be a good long-term fit for the company. Are you looking for an opportunity to grow with an organization – or will your plans take you to another employer before long?

  1. About Yourself

    Answering the question, reflect on yourself. Show that you are concerned and active about your own evolution.

    You can indicate how development has worked for you in the past, give examples.

    • What qualities do you wish to develop in yourself both professionally and personally?
    • What kind of culture do you want to work in?
    • What motivates you?
    • What qualities do you feel make strong, healthy relationships?
    • What skills do you admire most in your role models?

    And probably the most important is: What will help you to achieve your future goals?

    Choose something you’re already pretty good at, but still trying to improve even more. Maybe it is something that you learned a long time ago but haven’t used in recent jobs very often?

  2. About The Company

    Do your research and learn as much as possible about the organization and the career path you might forge there. Read the company’s story on their website, review their LinkedIn page, explore their blog.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value and what can you learn if they hire you?

  3. About The Fit

    No matter what skills you say you want to improve, however, make sure that you follow it up with what you’re doing about it.

    Focus on a work skill that may not be critical to your industry or job level and demonstrate how you would like to develop this skill further, implying you already have a level of competency. This way you won't be sounding negative about yourself.

    You could say something like “Coworkers often come to me for advice on how to write or format a document they are working on. I know that I am good at this (that’s why they come to me in the first place), but I have no formal training on mentoring others. I would like to take a course or two on mentoring others that would help them while also improving my own skills in this area.”

    Say you are willing to learn new things and take on new challenges. Show employers that you’re self-motivated and actively looking for ways to improve your skills and value in your career.

Pro Tip

If you choose one of the more common working skills such as networking, presentation, mediation, technical, coaching or mentoring, make sure that they are not anything that’s vital or crucial to the job you’re interviewing for.

For example, if you are applying for a manager position, you don’t want to say that you need to work on developing your supervisory skills.

Now that you have read some of our recommendations, you may wonder: “Ok, so what’s next? I seem to understand these concepts quite well and they kind of make sense to me, but how do I make sure my answers are actually in accordance with these recommendations, and I will stand out as a strong candidate in my upcoming interview?”

Good question. Assuming you are indeed qualified and fit for the position you are interviewing for, the best thing you can do is make sure the interviewer sees this fit.

There are two ways how you can leverage Mr. Simon’s expertise to help you shine your best:

  1. Go ahead and practice with the Mr. Simon app - it is a completely free, fun and helpful experience!
  2. Request a mock interview with a real human career mentor. During the session we will help you identify your Key Selling Points to emphasize in the interview, and to present them in a way that strongly communicates your value to the company. The 1-hour session costs USD 79.99 and is supplemented by 2 weeks of support via email, free of additional charge.

To request the session, shoot us an email to coaching@mrsimon.ai and attach your resume and job description to expedite the process.

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4. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment

How to answer

Of all your accomplishments (and I am sure you’ve had a great many of them!), you should choose the one most relevant to this job position.

  1. About Yourself

    Write down your Key Selling Points - your top 3-5 skills that make you a strong professional.

    Write down a list of your top 3-5 professional accomplishments that you are most proud of. No need for lengthy descriptions, just 1-2 words for each one to help you recall each situation.

    Make sure you have developed the story behind each accomplishment and have a strong command of the details of what happened so that you can tell the story clearly and distinctly.

    Along with each accomplishment, mark which of your Key Selling Points they showcase. How exactly?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What are the major projects going on?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Try to imagine yourself being an employee of the company you are applying to, say, at your 6th month into the job.

    • Which of your Key Selling Points and accomplishments would be most relevant to the company?
    • What “have you accomplished at your new job?”

    Choose the most relevant accomplishment from your list and then practice telling your story.

Pro Tip

Most enterprises are now going through major transformations, often called Digital Transformation.

Do your research on what it means and what is often involved, to get a better idea of the current goals and environments in companies. But one thing that definitely characterizes this transformation is striving for agility.

In particular, for startups (if you are applying to a startup or a small business), agility is their middle name, in order for them to survive among bigger sharks in the market.

So, demonstrating qualities like agility and adaptability should generally be helpful and quite a safe choice in most circumstances today.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Why do interviewers ask this question?

AThey want to know why you think the accomplishment you chose is your greatest, to give them an idea of what you think is important

BThey want to hear a specific example of your work to see if your problem solving skills fit in with the issues and problems their company might be experiencing

CThey want to know if you are a great multitasker who can get 10 different things done by the end of the day, no matter how long you have to stay at work to complete it all

5. How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in every company, and even so much more so in a company that deals with difficult customers occasionally. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember how you diffused the situation and how you turned things around.

    • Do you have certain principles, or methodology, to deal with difficult people?
    • Do you have strong people skills, are you good at conflict resolution?
    • Are you high on emotional intelligence? Can you give an example?
  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Knowing their line of business or industry, what can be some examples of difficult customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    A question like this asked in an interview, may be an indication that difficult customers, or other difficult stakeholders, may indeed be something that you will probably encounter in this company, and it is important for the interviewer to know that you will be able to handle this challenge with good grace.

    If you can give an example of how you handled a difficult person in the past in a situation similar to what this company may require from you, this will strongly increase your chances of showing yourself as a good fit.

Pro Tip

One methodology for diffusing a difficult situation is called “the triple A” approach:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you added another "A" to your approach by Asking for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AIf the customer is rude and obnoxious, answer in kind and show him that he cannot push you around.

BListen carefully to what the customer is saying to really understand their concerns then repeat back to them what you heard to be sure you have it right, before attempting to help them with the problem.

CTell the customer that he should have known that the sale is final and there is nothing he can do to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

6. How would you describe your work style?

How to answer

Use this question as a chance to show how your work style fits the company culture (hopefully it does).

  1. About Yourself

    The easiest way to approach this question is to write down the list of things (5-7 bullet points) that you value and that make you happy at work, for example:

    • teamwork
    • fun
    • respect
    • transparency
    • creativity
    • dynamic environment
    • work-life balance
    • focus on goals
    • any other points that are important to you.

    You may also want to compile a list of DON’Ts – things you find unacceptable, e.g. boring repetitive tasks, harassment, extreme volatility, etc.

    This is a useful exercise for your self-awareness and internal boundaries so that you can easily spot any red flags, but don’t include these items in your answer, as you don’t want to sound negative.

    Highlight 2-3 most critical items on the first list.

    Think of some positive examples from your past experience where these values made you happy at work but also made your boss happy because of the outcomes you achieved.

  2. About The Company

    Do your homework and learn as much as you can about the company, department and specific job you are applying for.

    You can get useful tips about the company from its Values or About Us sections on the website, and tips about the vacancy from the job description.

    Some companies position themselves as customer-oriented, others aim at productivity and efficiency, yet others are known for their creativity or adaptability.

    Other organizations take a customized approach towards client needs, or they stress care for their employees, like the possibility of working remotely, etc.

    In addition, startups are very different from large corporations in terms of culture and work style, and small businesses are different from both of these.

    Which best describes the company you are applying to?

  3. About The Fit

    Based on what you learned through your research of the company you are applying to, ask yourself, in all honesty, do you feel this company has the potential to make you happy and fulfilled at work? If so, why?

    Which of the critical items you value most best corresponds with your knowledge of the company culture?

    In preparation for your interview, make a list of your most critical values along with an explanation of how they helped you achieve positive results for your previous employer and/or helped you work more effectively with team members or customers.

    Keep them in mind during your interview; these are the values that you would like to enjoy at your new job.

Pro Tip

Optionally, you can end with a question like

And how would you describe the culture in the company/department?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

7. Describe the most challenging work problem you faced in your last job

How to answer

Everyone faces problems in the workplace, it’s how we deal with them that matters most.

The problems you faced in your previous workplace actually tell future employers a lot about your problem-solving strategies and abilities.

You can expect that some employers – especially those that consider themselves high stress or those that are replacing someone that struggled with problem-solving – are going to ask you questions about workplace problems to learn more about how you reacted.

It’s a complicated question to answer because different people handle challenges in different ways.

  1. About Yourself

    So, how should you talk about your strategy to approach tough situations?

    Try to think about the actual most challenging thing you did, or just pick something that was really difficult, but you succeed at it in the end.

    The situation should be real. Perhaps you went above and beyond to meet a tight deadline while taking over the responsibilities of a coworker who was out sick? Or you took a course, completed an online training, or attended seminars on a topic that was new for you, but necessary to match your qualifications to the position's requirements?

    Make sure your story isn't boring: interesting is a keyword here. Use the STAR method to demonstrate your positive approach to problem-solving.

  2. About The Company

    Take a moment to consider the role and the daily tasks you’d be engaged with.

    • What kind of problems might come about?
    • What difficulties can you possibly encounter because you will be working directly with clients or in a big team?
    • Do you have to communicate a lot, or would problems be more technical in nature?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Your answer is an opportunity to highlight your fit for the role and the work environment.

    This question allows the interviewer to reflect on how you handled past challenges and use this to make predictions about your future capabilities. It might help them to realize you’re a good fit.

    When employers ask such questions, they are looking for some specific details relevant to the job.

    For example, if you are interviewing for a customer service role, highlight how you’ve managed to deal with a difficult situation in customer service.

    On the other hand, if your future role would be very technical, you might talk about a technical challenge you’ve overcome.

Pro Tip

Sometimes it is hard to come up with “Big” challenges but that does not mean you never had to face down a problem.

I’m sure that you have solved problems in the past, you might just have to dig deep to come up with a few that you resolved to make your point.

8. Why were you successful in your last role? Give a supporting example

How to answer

Questions about your successes allow an employer to learn more about your work ethic and your previous accomplishments.

It helps the interviewer to determine whether you will be driven to achieve such results in the future.

This question also allows to understand how you define success, and what milestones in your career you consider important.

It’s the numbers and the facts that most accurately describe you as a good candidate.

Examples of your successes will be summarized in your resume and you should be ready to elaborate on them in the interview.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of the question as an invitation to discuss the professional characteristics that you're proud of or a particular achievement in your last job.

    • What steps did you take to become successful?
    • What personal and professional qualities did you use to reach your goals at work?
    • How did your actions help your team and the company to succeed?
    • What challenges did you overcome to become successful?
    • What are your lessons learned?
  2. About The Company

    Research the requirements of the company you applying to and review the job listing. Make a list of job qualifications and skills that match the preferred qualifications of the ideal candidate.

  3. About The Fit

    Explain your most important achievements at work, using the STAR method to provide specific examples of how your past work and achievements show how you will be an asset to the organization you're interviewing with.

    It’s your chance to tell about your Key Selling Points – skills that make you a successful employee.

    Emphasize the 3-5 strongest of them that helped you to achieve results at work to answer the question.

    It's important to provide the interviewer with evidence of how you achieved success in the workplace.

    For example, if you are in publishing, tell your story about how you ensured the timely release of 20 issues of the magazine, despite any problems you faced.

    The role of such an achievement for the company was particularly important and demonstrates how your work contributed to the business. Difficulties and ways to overcome them, new ideas, daily work, and its results will help the interviewer to assess your experience correctly.

Pro Tip

Do not be afraid of blowing your trumpet and making yourself look good.

If you are a good employee, then make sure you tell them so.

Try to show a high level of ambition.

Your goal is to demonstrate your determination and willingness to take on challenges and achieve results.

9. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the company and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

10. Who has inspired you in your life, and why?

How to answer

Almost anyone may inspire us at some point in our lives, depending on circumstances and their unique qualities.

By prompting you to answer such a question, the employer wants to judge your character, your value system and your personality. Therefore, you need to do your homework.

The person(s) you choose should be someone that you hold in high regard. It would be helpful (but not a deal-breaker) if the personal values you speak about have relevance to the job you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    The answer to this question is completely at your discretion.

    • Who encouraged you to become who you are today?
    • What qualities do they have that you admire most?
    • What are the common values between you and your heroes that you can use strategically in your career and life?
    • How did they help you to do proper introspection that influenced your life?

    Maybe it’s your parents, someone else from your family, a teacher or a mentor, a researcher, or a writer you admire. Maybe it’s a public figure that inspires you. Whoever this inspiring person is, remember that the interviewer is looking for a heartfelt response.

  2. About The Company

    Read the job description carefully and research the company to learn as much as you can about the company’s culture.

    What qualities does the company value in their employees? See if you are able to match their values to those you learned from the person that inspired you.

    You should not only list people who inspire you but, if possible, also tell why and how their influence may have relevance to the company you are interviewing with.

    Be extra cautious while naming a celebrity, a politician or any other controversial person as your inspirer, because the interviewer might have preconceived notions towards certain people that you might be unaware of and they may turn you away from the interviewer.

  3. About The Fit

    Be prepared to give examples of how the words, actions or teachings of your inspirers have helped to motivate you in achieving your goals.

    As always, prepare an answer which highlights qualities that would be highly valuable in the position you are seeking.

    Most employers look for characteristics such as adaptability, good interpersonal communication, leadership, creativity, innovativeness, honesty and dedication. Ask yourself, what ‘specific’ attributes have you learned from your motivator? Mention how learning such attributes helped you in your career.

    You should provide a specific example that shows the above-mentioned attribute of the inspirer.

Pro Tip

Remember that inspiration comes not only from others, but from yourself too.

Let the interviewer know that you are a self-confident person, who listens to yourself and is inspired by the challenges faced every day, both in your life and your career.

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This page has been updated on December 6, 2020.

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