Store Manager Interview Questions
Store m anagers are responsible for managing the day-to-day activities in a store. Store managers are expected to lead their staff and utilize them according to their strengths and weaknesses. They must help resolve customer disputes as they arise and help staff members solve any problems they run into.
In addition, store managers are typically in charge of administrative tasks such as creating employee schedules, managing invoices, and making bank deposits. A store manager must be aware of everything going on within their store.
Store manager responsibilities may include:
- Communicating with customers
- Providing guidance to staff members
- Creating employee work schedules
- Providing staff training
- Resolving disputes in the workplace
- Maintaining product inventory
A store will not run efficiently if there is no one to lead it. In order to lead their employees and run a profitable business, a skilled store manager will:
- Have conflict management abilities to de-escalate conflicts as they arise
- Communicate goals and tasks clearly with staff
- Stay organized and productive
- Work quickly and efficiently, especially during busy times
- Maintain a professional demeanor
Entry-level positions as a store manager can be obtained without a degree. Employees will often be promoted to store manager from within a company. However, companies will also hire store managers from outside the company if they have relevant experience. Many employers will want candidates with at least two years of experience in management. Candidates can earn degrees in business administration, management, or hospitality to make themselves more appealing.
If you’re getting ready to interview for a position as a store manager, you can prepare by researching the company as much as possible. Learn about the 9 things you should research before an interview.
Salaries for store managers range between $58K and $102K with the median being $76K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a store manager include:
- Degrees & training (associate's, bachelor's, master's)
- Years of experience
- Reporting structure (seniority of the management team you report to, number of direct reports such as department managers and retail staff)
- Level of performance - exceeding expectations
STORE MANAGER INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Question: How does your experience as a retail store manager distinguish you from other applicants for this position?
Explanation: This is a general or opening question which the interviewer will ask early in the interview. The purpose of it is to start the conversation, learn a little bit about your background, and provide the interviewer with information they can use to ask additional questions. It provides you the opportunity to steer the interview into an area in which you are comfortable.
Example: "I have experience managing both large and small teams in my previous store management positions. I’ve also managed specialty stores as well as large stores with multiple departments. This breadth of experience has provided me with the skills to deal with a wide range of situations related to both the store's performance as well as employee issues.”
Question: How knowledgeable are you of our store’s products and those of our competitors?
Explanation: This is another general question that helps the interviewer understand your experience specific to their store's operations. You should always perform a great deal of research before going to an interview in order to learn about the organization’s products, operations, and competition. This will enable you to answer this type of question and demonstrate your knowledge when answering other questions.
Example: “I have worked in several stores similar to yours during my career so I am very familiar with the products you sell. I work hard to stay current on the store’s products, and I constantly look for new items we can add to our offerings. I also spend a great deal of time learning about the competition by both researching them online and visiting their store locations. This knowledge helps me differentiate my store’s products and remain competitive.”
Question: What personality traits do you believe a retail store manager needs to possess to be effective in their job?
Explanation: The interviewer will ask this type of question to test your ability to assess yourself and be introspective. They also want to determine if your views on this issue align with theirs. The best way to answer this question is to reference the skills listed in the job posting with an emphasis on the key skills you possess.
Example: “I believe the key skills a retail store manager must possess are organization, attention to detail, empathy, a strong work ethic, and flexibility. Combined, these skills help you be effective at managing the store’s operations while being able to react to changing conditions and unexpected incidents. Additionally, the manager should have strong interpersonal communication skills so they can interact effectively with employees and customers.”
Question: What methods do you use to train new store employees?
Explanation: This is your first operational question. Operational questions are meant to determine the processes you use to perform your job. These questions are best answered by providing a step-by-step description of how you accomplish the task about which the interviewer is asking you.
Example: “As the store manager, I am rarely directly involved with individual employee training. However, I do manage the training systems the store uses. These include online training specific to each role as well as one-on-one training by the department or shift manager. This is followed up with periodic evaluations of the new employee’s performance. I also make it a point to shadow new employees for a portion of their shift to observe first hand if they are performing their job correctly.”
Question: What are some strategies you use to motivate your employees? Can you provide me with a specific example you have used in the past?
Explanation: This is another operational question the interviewer will ask to determine how you perform a specific task. The nuance is that they are asking you to provide an example of what you have done in the past. As an experienced manager, you should be able to answer this question easily. A tip is to use an example that will apply to the job for which you are interviewing.
Example: "In my previous store management positions, I used several different methods to motivate the store’s employees. All of these were based on recognition and rewards. I found using motivational techniques that employed the carrot instead of the stick were more effective. One example of this was creating a leadership board in the breakroom. Each employee received a badge in the shape of the store logo on the board whenever a customer commented positively about their performance. The employee with the most badges at the end of each month received a gift card they could use to purchase products from the store.”
Question: How did you handle a situation when you have an underperforming employee?
Explanation: One of the main duties of a retail store manager is dealing with employee performance. In this follow-up question, you are being asked how you deal with an underperforming employee. This may require either motivation or discipline. You should err on the side of motivation since this is a positive action. Also, be prepared for another follow-up question which the interviewer will ask to learn about how you discipline employees.
Example: "My approach to dealing with underperforming employees is always to try to address the issues in a positive manner. I meet with them to understand why their performance is below the standard. I then explain why it is important that they address this and provide them with resources they can use to correct their performance. I give them a specific timeline in which to achieve this. I then meet with them at the end of this time to either compliment them on their achievements or take additional actions which may include termination.”
Question: Even the best managers make mistakes. Can you describe a mistake you made in your previous position as a store manager and discuss how you handled it?
Explanation: This is a behavioral question. The interviewer is asking you to be introspective, admitting that you make mistakes. They then want to know how you react to this and correct the problem. The best way to respond to behavioral questions is by using the STAR framework. You describe the Situation, state the Task you need to accomplish, detail the Actions you took, and summarize the Results.
Example: "I will admit that I have made mistakes as a manager. Most of these involve how I interacted with employees. However, I always try to learn from my mistakes so I don’t repeat them. One example of this was when an employee was underperforming. I assumed they weren’t interested in the position, and I realized I had to either improve their performance or terminate them. When I confronted the employee about their behavior, they shared that their spouse had been diagnosed with cancer. Upon learning this, I expressed my empathy and discussed how the store management team could assist them. We put together a plan which provided them with a more flexible schedule and access to counseling. Their performance immediately improved. Fortunately, their spouse went into remission after a period of treatment. The lesson I learned was not to make any assumptions about an employee’s performance until I had the chance to learn more about their personal situation.”
Question: How successful are you at delegating tasks?
Explanation: Delegation is a key skill a manager needs to possess. An interviewer will ask you about this to ensure you can do it effectively. The inability to delegate will result in a manager being overwhelmed and not able to perform their job properly. You may want to include an example of how you’ve effectively delegated a task when you answer this question.
Example: “I learned early in my career as a retail store manager that unless I’m able to delegate tasks effectively, I will not be able to perform my job to the standards expected of me. I’ve seen many managers try to retain too much control, and it resulted in them being overwhelmed and things not being done properly. Recently, I was tasked with updating the store’s anti-theft policies. Rather than do this myself, I created a committee comprised of each department manager and asked them to update the policy. This resulted in a more effective anti-theft plan due to their familiarity with the specific operations within the store.”
Question: What would you do if there was an understaffed shift?
Explanation: This is another operational question in which the interviewer is asking you to address a situation that frequently occurs in retail stores. Remember, the best way to respond to an operational question is to describe the process you use to address the issue or accomplish the task about which the interviewer is asking you.
Example: “Unfortunately, I have to deal with understaffed shifts frequently. This usually occurs around the holidays when the employees are distracted or have family obligations. Knowing this, I often plan ahead and schedule additional staff when I anticipate this happening. I also ask the department and shift managers to be prepared to fill in when needed. This usually mitigates the understaffed situation, and the customers are rarely aware that it occurred.”
Question: Occasionally, a product is performing at a competitors’ store better than at our store. How would you react to this?
Explanation: This is another operational question the interviewer will ask to learn how you will react to a situation that is likely to occur in your role as a store manager. You can answer this by describing the steps you've taken in the past when a similar situation occurred. Try to keep the answer general in nature and applicable to the operations of the store with which you are interviewing.
Example: “Occasionally, products will sell differently at different retail locations. The reasons behind this vary and may include location, promotion, or complementary products available at the locations. Before making any adjustments at my store, I try to determine which of these factors is impacting the product sales. Once I’m confident that I’ve identified the right cause, I then take steps to adjust our stores merchandising strategy to improve the sales of the product.”
ADDITIONAL STORE MANAGER INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
If you had an employee that refused to follow directions, what would you do?
Have you ever dealt with a team member who felt discriminated against? What did you do to resolve the problem?
Describe a time you had to make a decision for a major expense. How did you go about making that decision?
What would you do if an employee came to you about a very personal problem they were having?
What qualifications do you look for in potential employees?
In your prior experience, have you ever had to fire an employee? If so, how did you go about it?
How would you integrate our company brand into this surrounding community?