Retail Interview tips: 9 things to look for in great sales assistants
July 24, 2015
This sounds like it should be pretty straight forward right? But we know working out what to look for when choosing new retail staff members can be tricky. How do you know if they’ve got what it takes?
Here’s our quick-list of 9 things you should look for – things that’ll separate a really great retail assistant from a good one.
Smiles. They have to be the type of person who smiles the moment they meet you. (I’m totally one of those btw) Sounds simple but in reality there are people out there who’s first reaction when they greet someone new is NOT to smile. They are shy, or shocked, or have a “I don’t want to talk to people” vibe. These are definitely NOT what you’re looking for. Luckily this is a pretty easy one to assess once you meet someone face to face.
Are they warm, authentic, likeable? – How do you feel when you first meet them, during the interview, after the interview? Did they make you smile? Was the conversation easy? Did they brighten up your day? If you felt like this, then so will your customers. Think about how you react when you leave a place feeling better for having visited. You want to go back there, right? Don’t you want your customers to feel that way about your store? Obviously take into consideration the fact that they’re projecting their very best self given the interview situation, but this is a great start.
Do they like people? It’s so obvious, it’s often overlooked but this one is pretty crucial. Does exceptional customer service come as easily as breathing? Let’s face it, working in retail can be relentless. You are confronted with people from all walks of life, all day. And some of those days will feel loooooong. There are people who are happy, sad, angry, rushed. They might be struggling to juggle kids (or parents!), be short on cash, sale crazy, hungry. It’s actually pretty crazy when you think about it. If you don’t like people this kinda job ain’t for you.
Do they love your products or services? If they aren’t really into what your store’s all about, they’ll never be able to sell it. When they turn up for interview they should have researched you and your business and they should be able to tell you why they like you.
Pride in their appearance. They don’t need to be dressed up all flash. But they do need to be clean and tidy. Of course, it helps if they are totally owning their personal style – as long as it’s not at total odds with your store’s brand. At the end of the day, it’s the little things that can make a difference - like chipped nail polish or unironed and unclean clothes. It may sound nit-picky but these things matter. If they don’t take pride in themselves then they won’t take pride in your store.
A great memory. Attention to detail. This is a really great skill for a retail assistant to have for customer relationships and for your product range. There’s nothing like walking into a store and the retail assistant remembering you, your likes/dislikes, your last purchase etc. It’s a hard one to test for but a good way is to have a bit of small talk at the beginning of the interview - tell them some personal details about yourself, and learn something about them. Then, when you finish up the interview you casually ask them a question that relates to something you spoke about in the beginning. It’s interesting to see what they remember. Memory is absolutely necessary when it comes to learning too. You want someone who retains information about your products and services. And you want someone who can add.
Can they sell? At the end of the day retail is sales. It’s where the rubber hits the road. Closing a sale is a skill in itself. If you have a customer who is umming and ahhhing you want to know that your Sales Assistant can close the deal. You could ask questions in the interview like – “How did you compare to other Retail Assistants in your last job when it came to monthly sales targets?”.
Are they reliable and do they have common sense. As all our grandmas used to say, there’s nothing common about common sense. You need someone who will turn up when they say they will, who will come back from breaks on time, who will NOT be on their mobile phone during quiet times but instead will be finding useful tasks to do around the store to keep things moving. There is stock to replenish, shelves to tidy, product updates to keep up with, etc. If the paper runs out on the eftpos machine they need to be able to sort this themselves, and not have to get a manager every time. A hard, but useful question to ask here is “If I call your reference, what will they say about your reliability?”
Cultural Fit – Obviously, we believe that cultural fit is an absolute deal breaker. These guys have to be able to work productively with your team, and they have to believe in and buy in to your over-arching company mission. Sharing the same foundational values and ethics as you and your team, gives everyone a common ground to stand on. This doesn’t mean they have to be exactly like you, quite the opposite! You want a team filled with diverse perspectives and experiences. But you need to have some common ground to connect on or your diversity can become disaster. Quite aside from that, any newbies have got to enjoy hanging with you guys all day, and visa-versa. It just makes for a more fun work environment. Afterall, why turn up to work every day if you don’t love what you do and who you do it with.
These are just a few basic retail interview tips. It's by no means exhaustive, but they should help when you’re next thinking about hiring your next Retail Assistant team member.
For more recruitment tips, check out our handy sourcing guide. If you'd rather talk to someone about how Weirdly could streamline recrutiing for your hiring managers, book a demo here.