6 questions to ask in a retail management interview

Jemma Smith, Editor
February, 2016

To impress retail management recruiters you need to prove that you understand their business. Do this by asking intelligent questions during interview. If you're stuck for ideas take inspiration from our expert advice

At the end of an interview your potential employer will usually give you the opportunity to ask questions of your own. Just because the interview is coming to a close, don't be fooled into thinking that you're not being assessed.

'Employers in the retail sector are looking for candidates who show a passion for their business, tenacity, business acumen, a sense of entrepreneurship and some sense that they understand both the consumer and the bottom line,' advises Corinna Budnarowska, undergraduate programme leader for retail management at Bournemouth University.

Asking well thought out questions demonstrates to the recruiter that you have done your research and helps to leave a positive impression.

'A candidate who can talk confidently about a retailer's five year strategy is fine, but one who takes this further by asking questions about how a department is responding to a particular strategic challenge is stronger,' adds Isabel Frazer, deputy head of careers and employability at King's College London.

Questions to consider

To make sure that your mind doesn't go blank prepare a list of questions to ask before your interview and then select the most relevant. If you need a little inspiration Sarah Batho, former Mothercare buyer and visiting lecturer at Brighton Business School suggests:

  • What are the main strategic points the company need to deliver on over the next 12 months?

'Asking this question allows you to gain an insight into the current position of the company and what the retail department is busy with at the moment.'

  • What would you be looking for me to demonstrate in my first three months to show that I am settling into the role?

'This gives you the opportunity to understand in-depth what you will be doing in the first few weeks of your job as a retail manager. You will also gain an understanding of the employer's expectations of you,' says Sarah.

Corinna believes that 'questions need to show that candidates are looking to add value to the business and are looking to progress within the organisation, rather than move away from it at the first opportunity.' She recommends:

  • What opportunities are there to work on strategic initiatives, projects and business expansions?
  • What opportunities are there for promotion within the business?

While Ruth Doyle, regional managing director at Aldi, suggests:

  • What do you foresee as the challenges facing the company in the coming years?

'Graduates should ask this question to highlight the importance of responding to industry trends within retail, and they should be prepared to have their own opinions on what issues the retail sector is likely to face in the next few years.'

  • Do you believe the company's business model will need to evolve?

'As an area manager, graduates will be expected to be knowledgeable about the company's business model, how it relates to the competition and why it appeals to shoppers.'

It's best to keep questions company specific so what you ask will depend on the company and the role that you're applying for. Asking pertinent questions which demonstrate your knowledge, skills and commercial awareness will go some way to proving to the interviewer that you're the right candidate for the job.

Pick up some interview tips and gain an insight into the business, consulting and management sector.