6 questions to ask in a retail management interview

Jemma Smith, Editor
March, 2024

Asking intelligent, well-researched questions during a job interview can really make you stand out from the crowd. Take a look at the questions you should be asking in a retail management interview

A job interview is a two-way process. The employer is weighing up whether you'll be suitable for the role and you're weighing up whether the job is for you and if you'd enjoy working at the company.

If you're after a management role, retail employers will be looking for candidates who can evidence excellent leadership and teamworking skills. Confidence, strong communication skills and a demonstrable passion for retail will also go a long way, so be sure to use examples that highlight these qualities in your answers.

At the end of an interview you often get the chance to ask your interviewers questions of your own. Use this opportunity wisely - it's one of the last chances you'll get to leave a positive impression and gather the information you need.

To make sure you're prepared and that your mind doesn't go blank at the opportune moment put together a list of questions beforehand. Come up with at least five - it's doubtful that you'll get to ask this many but having a few back-up questions will be useful if one or two of them are answered during the course of the interview.

Your pre-interview research into the retail manager job and the company should determine the questions you'll ask. However, as a general rule:

  • it's best to steer clear of questions where the answer can be found online via the company's website or promotional material. Asking questions that can be easily answered by a Google search does not leave a positive impression where your preparedness is concerned.
  • leave questions concerning holiday, salary or specific terms of the contract until you've been offered the role.

If you're in need of inspiration, here are some suggestions of questions you should ask during a retail management interview.

How will this role feed into the key strategic objectives of the organisation?

The answer that your interviewers give to this question should give you some insight into the overall mission of the organisation, as well as help you to understand the expectations of your role and how it fits into the bigger picture.

How do you see [a particular area of the business] developing over the next three years?

If you're interested in a particular business function such as sustainability, technology or customer relations asking a question like this gives you the chance to state your interest while gauging the direction it's heading in and if you'll be able to play a part in its development.

Whatever you ask about, make sure it's relevant to the retail organisation as this will show you've researched the business.

What type of management training, development and support can I expect in this role?

Most retail management jobs will offer training to new recruits. This will benefit your professional development and boost your CV. It can also help develop your understanding of the organisation's expectations for you and help you to succeed in your new role.

If the role doesn't have any formal training, then clarify what  support is available for new management trainees and whether there are opportunities for you to seek out further development through external associations.

What opportunities are there for career progression within the organisation?

Asking about career development shows that you are committed to the role and the company, while also demonstrating your ambitious nature. Questions about progression routes may also give you an insight into the staffing structure of the organisation.

What do I need to demonstrate in my first three months to show that I'm 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'll likely gain an insight into some of the tasks you'll need to complete and the skills you'll need to achieve them.

You will also gain an understanding of the employer's expectations of you.

What's the best thing about working for this company?

Wrapping up your enquiries with a positive question is a good idea. Asking your interviewers about their personal experience will pleasantly take them by surprise while making you look interested, engaged and enthusiastic.

Positive questions about their time at the company will likely reveal some perks of the job and could provide some insight into how you can expect to be treated and the culture of the organisation.

Other ideas

  • What three main challenges/projects would you like me to tackle in the first few months of the job?
  • What have been some of the stores/organisations most successful initiatives?
  • What can you tell me about the team I’ll be managing? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What can you tell me about your plans for growth/expansion?

If a lot of company and job-specific information is covered during the interview don't skip this part by saying you don’t have any questions and avoid making recruiters repeat themselves by asking about something that has already been discussed. Instead ask a couple of these general questions to ask at an interview.

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