RETAILING PRACTICE INTERVIEW
Try a practice interview for retail management, answering typical questions and also getting tips on how you should answer. There are also other questions students have been asked at retail management interviews.
- Practice Interview for retail management
- Other questions students have been asked
- Tests given to candidates
- Group exercises
- Tips from interviewees
RETAIL MANAGERS need stamina as they are likely to be on their feet most of the day, PLANNING and ORGANISING skills to run the store, LEADERSHIP skills to manage a team of staff, DECISION MAKING SKILLS to manage stock, PERSUASIVENESS when dealing with customers and the ability to COOPERATE with a wide range of people.
Below is the sort of the evidence you could give at interview to demonstrate that you had these skills:
- ORGANISING a kitchen cleaning rota in shared accommodation.
- PERSUADING your housemates to stick to the rota!
- CO-OPERATING in team sports.
- LEADING crew leader at McDonalds.
- MAKING DECISIONS College Welfare Representative.
- LISTENING - to children's' problems on a BUNAC summer camp in the USA.
- PLANNING - a holiday with friends.
- WRITING - a dissertation.
- ANALYSING - the best methods of publicising a society's events to members.
- PRESENTING - acting as compère to a charity fashion show.
Initial retailing interviews may be held on campus, in a store, or at head office. Second interviews are typically selection centres where you will take part in group exercises with other candidates. The questions which follow are ones which are typically asked at retail interviews. You may like to see the multiple choice and general interviews as well for more general interview questions which may be asked. See our Retail Careers Page for more information on this career.
There follow some of the questions that might be specifically asked of students at interviews for teacher training courses. General interview questions are not asked here, so you might also like to try the general or multiple choice interviews as well for standard interview questions that can be thrown at any candidate. Click on "First Question" to begin. Think carefully about how you would answer, then click on "Show Answer Tips" to get an idea of how you should be answering.
If you have been to an interview or assessment centre recently please fill in our interview report form to help other students.
- Tell me a little about yourself (Tesco)
- How are you customer orientated? (LIDL)
- Tell me about yourself academically and socially, any hobbies, other awards or skills you may have.
- What have you got to offer the company? (LIDL)
- What skills can you offer the company? (buying)
- Why should we pick you? (LIDL)
- What are your strengths? (LIDL)
- What are your weaknesses? (LIDL)
- How would you deal will employees who are older than you and don't like you because of your age?
- Why do you want to work for us? (Tesco) (Sainsbury) (LIDL)
- Why do you want to work in retail management?
- Who are our main competitors? (buying interview)
- What differences do you see between us and our competitors? (buying interview)
- What differences do you see between our stores and our competitors' stores?
- Who are our customers?
- What do you know about our company (Tesco), (LIDL)
- If you were CEO of our company , what would you do (Tesco)
- Why Supply Chain? (Sainsbury)
- Why you want to be a retail buyer? (buying interview)
- How many hours per week do you think you will be working? 50+
- What do you already know about the company? (Expanding about 80 stores per year currently 380 stores in the UK, no baskets just trolleys, customers pay for the carrier bags as it would add to the costs of the food if they didn't.) (LIDL)
- How do you meet the changing demands of customers? (LIDL)
- What changes would you make to LIDL?
- How do Lidl manage to break into other markets?
- What would you take into consideration when deciding what product to supply? (buying interview)
Competency Questions. See our competency applications and interviews page for help with these.
There is problem of candidates not explaing the skills they have gained from their work experience. E.g. that working as a sales assistant will involve working in a busy team, providing a quality servive under pressure and dealing tactfuly with customer concerns.
They look for “great work experience” - this includes voluntary work but preferably anything that demonstrates leadership skills and customer service experience (retail, hospitality, call centres etc - anything involving putting the customer first). Also an understanding of what they are applying for and why it is right for them. Why Sainsbury’s?
SAINSBURY’S GRADUATE SCHEME
- What are your key strengths as a communicator? (Body Shop)
- How have you sucessfully managed conflict? (Body Shop)
- When was the last time your plans were disrupted due to an unexpected event? How did you react? (Body Shop)
- Tell me about a time when there was an unpopular change in an organisation? (Body Shop)
- How do you ensure goals are reached? (Body Shop)
- How do you set vision and direction for your team? (Body Shop)
- Describe a situation where you were:
- Describe a situation where you showed motivation (Tesco)
- Have you made any presentations? When? How? Why? Do you enjoy making them?
- Describe a situation where you demonstrated team work (Tesco)
- Tell me about a situation were you have had to stay calm?
- Tell me a situation that you had to take control of?
- Give an example of when you had to make a difficult decision. Explain all aspects of coming to this decision. (Sainsbury)
- What leadership experience do you have? (LIDL)
- How flexible are you?
- How do you work under pressure?
- Can you adapt easily to different people and environments?"
Hypothetical questions. See our hypothetical questions section for help with these.
- An employee has been arriving 30 mins late to work everyday. Why do you think this is? What would you do? (Supermarket)
- A certain product is being sold at the same price, same quantity, etc. (i.e. same product) as the competitors, but the product at our stores is not selling well as compared to the competitors. Why do you think this is? What would you do about it? (Supermarket)
- You had to give a presentation with other colleagues. The others got “good” as their grade, but you got “acceptable”. Why do you think this is? What would you do about it? (Supermarket)
- The interviewer pretended he was a customer and I had to sell him a few things (Body Shop)
Tests given to candidates. See our practice aptitude tests
- Numerical test. 30 minutes to do 36 questions. Statistics-based: interpreting data from tables and graphs. Calculator provided.
- Verbal reasoning. 30 minutes to do 36 questions. Given 9 passages of writing (about 3 paragraphs each) and had to answer four questions on each.
- Numerical similar to SHL tests, 35 mins: need to get 70% (Tesco)
- Given 10 minutes to complete a 15 question maths test without a calculator. This was pretty straightforward and included questions such as: "If you had a piece of rod 200m long how many smaller pieces of 20.6 cm could you get and how much would be left over". So long as you revise basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and long division then you will be fine.
- Shop floor trial (Body Shop)
Group exercises. See our teamwork page
- There was a group interview with 12 people and each person had to introduce themselves in no more than a minute. This was the only sales pitch to be had on the whole day, and one student regretted just giving his name, university and course details. He felt he should have presented a one-minute CV and used this opportunity to say why they should employ him. (ALDI)
- Role play where I had to 'discipline' a member of staff (Body Shop)
- Discussion pros and cons of situations and coming to a group decision (Tesco)
- In tray exercise, logistics exercise presentations (2mins), had dinner and drinks the night before (Tesco)
- Role play: meet an employee after you have been made a department manager. This was followed by an aptitude test, a personality test and a logical reasoning test, then a team working exercise about a case study. (Sainsbury)
- Individually, then as a team: pick 15 items to survive after a plane crash in the desert. See our balloon debates page.
- Working out how to make the longest paper chain whilst making the biggest profit taking into account expenditure on materials. (BT Retail)
- Group situational interview where 3 candidates were asked questions as to how they would deal with a fictional scenario - the question would be aimed at one person at first and then opened up to the others. (BT Retail)
- Group exercise involving creating a crossword involving words to do with communication. (BT Retail)
- Pairs activity which tested the ability for the individuals to communicate information to each other. (BT Retail)
Presentations. See our presentation skills page.
- Presentation: supply chain issue regarding a change in the shift pattern of a distribution centre.
15 minutes reading of evidence: 40 minutes discussion time for 5 minute presentation. We had to discuss all supply chain issues regarding the opening of a flagship store in London. (Sainsbury)
- Asked to make a 5 minute speech on the most difficult decision in my life: excluding university/course choice.
- a 5 minute presentation (with 5 min. preparation time) about one of the following three topics:
1) the most challenging experience
2) the most difficult problem you've faced
3) the most successful achievement (LIDL)
- Before attending the assessment centre, details of a presentation which was to be delivered were sent to candidates. The subject of the presentation was very open-ended. Many chose to use PowerPoint, others on OHP. The presentation was given to 1 assessor - not in front of other candidates. (BT Retail)
- Involved reading some material about mobile phones, meeting with a "customer" (an assessor) to assess their company's needs and then delivering a proposal as to which package would best suit their needs. (BT Retail)
- Body Shop want someone who is going to deliver sales results and promote their values. Find out as much as possible about the products especially for the shop floor trial. (Body Shop)
- Be prepared. Know the company and its competitors. Know the retail industry.
- Don't go in not knowing why you want to work in retail.
- Prepare answers to common questions in advance.
- Make sure you know exactly where to go for the interview.
- Interviewers were pretty friendly. You could make a joke with them.
- Come prepared to be confronted.
- Be confident! (Tesco)
- Ensure you have many examples to give in the interview – competency questions. (Sainsbury)
- Make sure you see if they're right for you! (Tesco)
- Not at all daunting so don't be at all worried. There are no questions designed to trip you up. (Sainsbury)
- The assessments were deliberately organised to put pressure on you time-wise. The point of most of the assessments didn't seem to be getting to the correct answer but seeing how you got there - so bear this in mind. One or two of the candidates tried too hard to impress and were very overbearing when it came to the group exercises - I'm not sure that this is what the assessors were looking for and it certainly didn't make them popular with the other candidates! (BT Retail)
- The assessment centre was incredibly well organised, though at times the assessments ran over time which meant that scheduled breaks didn't really happen. It is a very very tiring and long day so be prepared! The assessors were not actually from BT but from a recruitment consultancy hired by BT. They did not have access to any of the information given previously to BT by the candidates so each person was essentially equal in their eyes at the start of the day. (BT Retail)
- Questions I asked included:
- How do Lidl manage to break into other markets?
- Would we all start off as store managers?
- What's the staff turnover like? (LIDL)