1. In what ways do you think you can contribute to our organization?

You would have thought about your personal impact you hope to make on the new job. People will not hire just for looks and personality. It is all about getting the job done in the public service, keeping the public and your colleagues happy. If you can contribute to making that happen in some way, you would be most valued. Is there anything you could better? Anything you could introduce to make the service more effective. Any suggestion would show your careful thought about the job and the fact that you would be coming in to help to make that difference and the job a little bit more fulfilling for all concerned.

2. What qualities do you think are important to this position?

A very crucial question because the response will show your own understanding of the industry, your competence in producing those qualities and your judgment of what the job requires. The top skill is communication, both listening and dealing empathetically with customer and staff concerns. If you can reach out to others in such a way that make them feel comfortable and heard. You would be a winner. A caring, helpful, inclusive, and cheerful disposition is also extremely important to make people of all races and creed feel reassured and at ease. Respect for the customer, that he/she is always right, would be crucial too in crisis times. The personal qualities would all revolve around people skills and anyone who has those, especially with a very bright and welcoming smile would be definitely favored for such a position.

3. Tell about the worst boss you have had?

Be careful with this one. It is very tempting when one is feeling comfortable to rubbish past bosses to make the potential one feel better, what I call giving them the halo effect while you turn your former boss into the devil! Please resist it. This is not a time just for negativity. You are also showing your own quality if judgment with your reply. You can point out someone, nameless, say a couple of things did that you felt hampered your development or irritated you. However, the main thing to remember is to end on a positive note by pointing out other things the person did which helped you too or which you believe were fair. If you are only going to blame and accuse them, your interviewers will be wondering if that is how you will be treating them too when you leave their company.

4. Do you prefer to have a job with set tasks and responsibilities, or where your tasks change on a frequent basis?

This question aims to separate the leaders from the followers. If you were good at using your initiative and being self-directed then you would be different in approach and appeal from someone who prefers closer direction, routine, and more regularity. By stating which type of job, you prefer the interviewers would be able to see your potential development while gauging your personality and ambitions more accurately. Be clear about which would suit you so that you would then be placed in the right environment for your growth. For example, if you were easily bored, then a changing routine would be much more appropriate to motivate you. Your response here could help place you when assigning tasks.

5. How long would you expect to work for us?

Most people seek security and companies do not wish to be recruiting every minute, often a bad fit leads to short stays. The recruitment process is a long and expensive one, especially where agencies are used to introduce the candidate, so companies seek to avoid that at where possible. The best response is to indicate that you expect to be with the company for a few years, noting that you would enjoy being part of any expansion, which will aid your personal development. If you can reassure an employer that you would be there for a reasonable time, you are more likely to be considered. Young women candidates tend to get this question more than men, because of the possibility of pregnancy later on, but that should not be a barrier to having a permanent job or be used in a bias way against them.

6. How would your co-workers describe you?

This is one of the most important questions about how you are perceived by others, and your ability to work in a team, not how you would like them to see you. It must not sound too gushing and syrupy or too negative. A healthy balance in your personality and aptitude would go down well. Descriptions that include mainly positive observations will make you appear more realistic and human. However, stress aspects to do with your ability to do the job, not just personal things. For example, they would probably comment on your enthusiasm and keenness to learn, your knowledge of the merchandise, how you deal with customers in a very empowering way.

7. What experiences have you had in dealing with difficult customers?

The reputation of a company controls its profit margins. A bad reputation means fewer customers. If you cannot handle difficult customers, that would be a major obstacle for you in a job where dealing with irritated members of the public will be routine. Start generally but select one incident soon afterwards and describe the outcome of that. Be very clear about the circumstance what happened and how you dealt with it, especially how you resolved any tricky issues that arose. The key words here are mutual respect, listening to the customer, being calm in the face of irritation and concluding the situation positively.

8. What interests do you have outside your work?

This shows whether you are a one-dimensional person who just plays football. For example, someone who also uses his or her brains and is not just tied to one activity. More important, sometimes companies promote a particular sport among their staff and want team players for it. For example, if you are a good golfer, that could come in handy for company golfing events and would add to your appeal. Again you have to be honest here, or it could come back to haunt you!

9. What did you enjoy most and least in your last retailing job?

This is another very good question because it helps to pin down what makes you tick, what you really like and what would put you off. This is about self-knowledge. You need to appreciate what turns you on and off and what has helped to get you to where you are today. For example, if the things you did not enjoy were allied to what you are applying for now, that would rule you out because you would be getting more of the same in another form. It also helps to draw out your sincerity in what you really desire in your life. So make sure you really know how you felt about your last job so that you can identity what you liked and disliked about it in order to get more of the enjoyable bits.

10. What experience in retail have you had to qualify you for this position?

This is really about your career history but do not make it into a boring autobiography. Identify things you have done which match the current job role and describe them briefly so that your experience speaks for itself. For example, if you have been used to buying merchandise or working in the after care section make sure that the one you highlight aligns well with what you would also be doing in the new job. Pointless stressing your role as a buyer if you will be dealing with customer complaints, you can mention it briefly. Make sure you also add what you would like to learn too, even if you have no experience of it, which shows your varied interests and desire to grow. Whatever you say, honesty is of the essence here.

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