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5 Retail Associate Interview Questions and Answers

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Whether you are preparing to interview a candidate or applying for a job, review our list of top Retail Associate interview questions and answers.


What type of merchandise have you sold in the past, and what do you feel most comfortable selling?


Though you can train new workers on how to sell to customers, the best candidates are those who already have experience with particular merchandise. The way a retail associate applicant responds to this question can also help you see if he or she prepared for the interview in advance. Those who stumble and struggle to answer the question may lack confidence around customers. What to look for in an answer:

  • Sales experience in a similar field
  • Willingness to learn and apply sales techniques to new items
  • Professionalism and politeness in regard to selling


"I spent more than five years working for a drugstore and sold everything from office supplies to over-the-counter medication. I feel comfortable selling merchandise within those categories and am happy to learn how to sell new products."


What would you do if a customer wanted to return an opened product?


A retail associate must follow the rules of your store, helping you save money and improve customer relations. You want to make sure that the applicant understands your return policies but also that you put the customer first. If the associate cannot find a solution to make the shopper happy, he or she must be willing to work with management. The best applicants will feel comfortable looking for answers that will keep the customer satisfied. They should also know when management can step in and help. What to look for in an answer:

  • Applicant's ability to handle difficult issues
  • How willing the candidate is to resolve problems
  • Knowledge of how to follow store policies


"I would first explain our return policy and show the customer that the shop did not accept open items. If that failed, I would call for a manager."


How much money have you handled at one time at work?


Shops and stores can process thousands of dollars in transactions in an hour or less. When interviewing candidates, it's important to ask how much money they have handled in the past and how comfortable they felt with that cash. This shows you if the applicant is responsible and feels confident with financial transactions or if that individual would be better suited for another position. What to look for in an answer:

  • Familiarity with cash transactions
  • Ability to check register totals at the beginning and end of each shift
  • Change-making skills; without the help of the register is a plus


"On my last job, I was regularly responsible for maintaining thousands of dollars in my register until the manager cashed me out."


How would you feel about asking customers to sign up for a store card?


Many retail shops now offer loyalty and/or credit cards. When you ask a retail associate this question, you can find out how comfortable they feel with upselling. It also allows them to talk about their past experiences with informing customers about these cards. The response also allows you to see whether the associate would feel confident asking your shoppers to sign up for those cards. What to look for in an answer:

  • Applicant's familiarity with reward and credit card applications
  • Upselling experience
  • Ability to present cards and special programs in a way that does not annoy the customer


"At my last department store job, I had one of the highest rates in terms of customers who completed credit card applications."


What would you do if a customer demanded a return beyond the deadline?


Most stores today have strict return policies and will not let customers return items after a set deadline. While candidates can answer this question in different ways, they should agree that following the rules and regulations of your store is paramount. The top answers you need to look for relate to how the applicant will work with the customer on the spot before calling for help from a manager. What to look for in an answer:

  • Applicant's ability to follow store rules
  • Willingness to work with customers to keep them happy
  • Knowing when to request assistance and when to handle the matter themselves


"I would take steps to explain the return process to the customer. If we could not reach a satisfactory conclusion, I would call for management."

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