I know, preparing for a job interview is tough. Especially in Singapore.
You probably applied for your dream retail job and you’re nervously trying to figure out how to prepare to face the scary interviewer.
What’s worse is, there are 100+ others applying for the same position. Someone more qualified might end up taking the job you really want (OR that amazing retail staff discount).
Fret not! I managed to get Jacqueline Gwee who has 25 years of experience working in recruitment to help.
In this article, I’ll discuss these 7 tips to help you prepare for your job interview and beat your competition:
- Highlight your past work experience to your advantage
- Demonstrate the technical knowledge and skills required for the job
- Be updated with the latest news on fashion trends and events
- Have the right attitude and personality for the job
- Dress presentably for the interview
- Research the company you apply for
- Prepare questions for interviewers
Tip #1: Recall your past work experience
This is super important. A common question interviewers love to ask is how your past work experience makes you the most suitable person for the job.
There are 2 reasons why employers and interviewers ask this question:
- They want to know how much training you require
- They want you to recall a situation in the past where you handled a tough situation successfully
For those who are inexperienced, I know we’ve all had this question: “How am I supposed to gain experience when most jobs I want to apply to require past work experience?”
Don’t worry. Here’s where you can be smart about it.
When you’re preparing for this interview question, think of a situation where you can tell them that you have the relevant knowledge and skills that they are looking for.
It doesn’t always have to be during your previous job.
How you can prepare
Here’s a quick and simple trick I use:
Step 1: Take a piece of paper. You need to list down the situations when you were under pressure at work.
Step 2: Choose 1 situation you feel will be most relevant to the job you apply for.
Step 3: Write down how you handled the tough situation professionally. Pay special attention to this step because this is where you convince them you’re the perfect candidate.
Don’t worry if you can’t recall any interesting experience, you can still demonstrate your job experience through your daily routine at work.
For example, if you’re applying for a role as a beauty advisor, you should tell them how you helped customers identify skin undertones and chose the correct foundation shade for them.
Tip #2: Demonstrate genuine interest for the role through your skills and technical knowledge
Okay, this is tricky.
It’s great if you have previous work experience. You probably have an edge in terms of your technical knowledge. What happens if you don’t?
Prepare yourself by doing some simple research. Read up on the skills necessary for employees working in the retail industry.
How you can prepare
I found a comprehensive list of relevant retail skills and technical knowledge required to work in the industry. Fortunately, this list has almost everything that experienced and inexperienced individuals can demonstrate!
Here’s a brief look at some of the skills you need:
- Attention to Detail
- A complete understanding of the industry
- Being able to effectively communicate and listen
- Great customer service
- (And a ton more…)
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the necessary skills, be sure to demonstrate them at least once during your interview!
Tip #3: Keep updated with the latest in fashion trends and events
If you’re applying for the retail industry, I hope you’re passionate about it!
If you can name the latest fashion trends in the market, upcoming brand releases or where consumers are putting their money, you’re on your way to landing your dream job.
Interviewers love candidates who keep themselves updated with the latest in fashion trends and events happening within the retail industry (fashion week anyone?).
It tells them that you have the passion and capability to provide their company with the creative contribution they need.
How you can keep yourself updated
Follow and read the blogs of your favourite fashion magazines. They regularly produce content that lets you keep updated with the latest in fashion.
You should also be prepared to bring up a few trends that you think could be the next big thing. It is a great conversation starter to have with your interviewers (or hopefully, your future colleagues).
Tip #4: Show that you have the right attitude for the job
Here’s a neat fact I found: research studies demonstrated that specific attitudes have a high correlation to work performance.
Wait… what? Well, it basically means that companies want people with attitudes who fit the job.
There are several preferred attitudes within the retail industry:
Try to showcase these characteristics during your interview!
How you can prepare
If you have a friend that’s working within the retail industry, ask them which attitudes their company values.
If you find out that you have the right attitude they’re looking for, prepare yourself by making sure that you bring up your positive characteristics during the interview.
Pro tip: Avoid slouching or crossing your arms across your chest during interviews. It conveys arrogance and resistance. Instead, move your hands naturally to make you feel more approachable when you’re answering their questions or telling your story.
Tip #5: Dress presentably for your job interview
We’ve heard this a thousand times, “Do not judge a book by its cover”.
Unfortunately, it’s common for interviewers to do the exact opposite. Your attire and dressing is the very first image you portray before you can even say hi.
The retail industry is huge, from individual brands to large fashion retailers. Each company have different preferences on how their employees look.
As a rule of thumb, avoid coming in with sloppy attire.
How you can dress well for the interview
I know it’s hard to be sure of what to wear, especially when you spend hours looking at your closet.
Read this guide on what to wear to a retail job interview to help you make that decision.
Tip #6: Research the company you are applying for
I know I said tip #1 was super important, this is too.
Retail staff commonly resign because they were unclear of the expectations of the position they applied for. Nobody wants to find out they dislike the job halfway.
This means that you have to be prepared to research the company you’re applying for.
What you need to research about the company and job
What I normally do before going for interviews is to go online and look up the company. You should pay special attention to their:
Company Culture & Values
This information is usually easily available on their “About Us” page on their website. Look out for it and if you know someone on the inside, that’s a bonus and that person can just fill you in.
Apart from asking current employees, a neat trick to find out about their work environment is to ask the customers that visit the retailer. They might give you an idea about the store’s environment.
Normally, job descriptions are detailed. Do not hesitate to prepare questions for the interviewers when there isn’t enough information about the job.
Tip #7: Prepare questions for your interviewers
At the end of every interview, employers ask if you have any questions.
This is a good time to clarify any doubts you have about the company, the job scope, the expected timeframe for follow-up and the next steps of the recruitment process.
It is also the perfect opportunity for you to show how prepared and serious you are about being the best candidate for the role.
Questions you can prepare to ask the interviewer
List down the burning questions you have about the company and clarify your doubts after the interview.
If you’re unsure of what you to ask, check out our previous article that gives you smart questions you should ask at the end of the interview. We compiled 7 questions that people ALWAYS regret when they forget to ask their interviewer before accepting the job offer.
Be ready to impress and engage your interviewers in a conversation!
Over to you
Job interviews don’t have to be hard. All you need is good preparation.
With the tips I discussed above, I hope you’re all ready to beat your competition and ace your retail job interview! Say goodbye to sleepless nights and nervous breakdowns and say hello to your new job and upcoming pay-check!
If you have friends who are also nervously waiting for their interviews, help them out by sharing this article with them!
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Feel free to leave your comments if you need help with other job-related questions! We’ll do our best to answer them!
By Irene Arieputri