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How to Prepare for an Assistant Retail Manager Interview

by David Lipscomb

Retail can be a fast-paced working environment, requiring competent leaders at the store level to ensure customers get served properly and sales goals are met. Often, managers and assistant managers are the only salaried or full-time employees, so their obligations demand more time and commitment than other employees. There are ways you can prepare for an assistant manager interview that lets the interviewer know you're qualified and ready for the challenge.

Scout Ahead

You never want to show up late for any interview. In fact, arriving 10 to 15 minutes early is ideal. If you aren't familiar with the interview location, drive the route prior to your scheduled interview date around the same time the interview is scheduled to take place. This lets you learn about traffic conditions, parking arrangements and the amount of time it will probably take to get there.

Dress for Success

The first thing interviewers notice about applicants -- other than the resume -- is the job candidate's personal appearance. You want to make a professional appearance without overdressing the part. For example, if you are interviewing as an assistant manager at a store that sells auto parts, you might not need to wear a suit, though you will want to wear something neat, clean and professional. When in doubt, lean conservative with your selections. Remember that a store manager, HR manager or regional manager will interview you. Dress as though you belong among these people professionally. Remove excess jewelry and visible piercings. Belt loops should be filled and clothes should fit well, but not tight. If you smoke, refrain from doing so prior to the interview so your scent doesn't trickle in -- and go light on the perfume.

Research the Company

During the interview, you'll likely be asked, "Tell me what you know about our company," or a variation of that. Don't get caught flat-footed. Researching the organization thoroughly -- down to which products it carries, its number of stores, its expansion plans and its growth strategy -- shows you care about the company and the job. Most of this information can be found on the most company's website, but always dig further by entering the store or company's name into your preferred search engine. This might bring additional information from news articles or industry trade publications. It's also smart to walk through one of the stores to learn about the demographics of the staff and its target customer. Make it a point to weave your knowledge of the company, as well as its mission, into your interview answers so you can show that your skills are relevant to the company and the position.

Make it About Them

As a management candidate, your interview answers should focus on what you've done to propel previous employers forward, as well as how you've helped your employees succeed. Since most businesses view previous performance as an indicator of future success, preparing answers like these shows you're ready to take on a new leadership role. Practice your answers in front of the mirror or with a friend or family member to help yourself prepare.

Come Equipped

Bringing a folder with a pen, your contact sheet and two more copies of your resume shows preparation and respect. You'll want your contact sheet in case you need to fill out an application and don't have time to look up names and numbers. Bring a notepad to jot down pertinent information during the process, but don't focus on this by looking away from the interviewer for extended periods. Coming prepared displays the independence and self-reliance expected of a leader. Don't make an interviewer chase down information you should already have.

Think About Questions

Nerves affect everyone in interviews to one degree or another. It's smart to think about common, everyday retail interview questions to rehearse your answers in advance. Common questions include "tell me about yourself," "give me an example of a serious issue at work and how you solved it," and "what are your biggest weaknesses?" Also, prepare a couple of key questions to ask the interviewer. Questions appropriate for a management candidate include "how do you view your company in comparison to the competition," and "what type of target customer are you having a hard time winning." Make the questions less about your personal advancement and more about things you'll need to know to help the company.

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

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