Assistant Store Manager Interview Questions

When hiring an Assistant Store Manager, it is important to find a candidate who is eager to perform a variety of duties necessary for the smooth operations of the store. Supporting the store manager, the Assistant Store Manager will need to move seamlessly from employee issues such as scheduling job interviews and training new staff, to merchandise concerns such as monitoring stockroom inventory, to customer service such answering questions and handling purchases.

The Assistant Store Manager is a growing leadership position as well. The ideal candidate will be extremely personable, detail-oriented, and have strong critical thinking skills. It’s also helpful to consider the process of succession within your store or stores. Evaluate your candidate not only for their ability to carry out the duties of the assistant role, but for their potential to eventually grow into a Store Manager position as well.  

General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position. 

Below are Assistant Store Manager interview questions to help you get started: 

Why do you think the position of an Assistant Store Manager is important for our store?  

What you want to hear: This question can help you assess whether or not your candidate fully appreciates the responsibilities that come with this role. Look for a candidate who can explain the difference in duties between the store manager, assistant store manager, and sales associates. They should recognize that the role provides essential leadership support for the store manager, and in the absence of the store manager the assistant may be required to step up and ensure the continued smooth operations of the business. 

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who doesn’t understand the importance of an Assistant Store Manager to store operations may not yet possess the drive and maturity needed to succeed in the role.    

How would you deal with a problematic employee, for example someone who shows up late for shifts or underperforms? 

What you want to hear: Listen for a candidate who is prepared to address employee concerns head on and not shy away from confrontation. An excellent candidate may say something like, “In this situation, I would try to deal with the employee by addressing the problem privately and trying to get to the root cause of the issue. Afterwards, I would set up a concrete action plan to help him/her succeed, and would make sure that I was available for assistance when needed. I would also keep the store manager informed of the issue and any progress or ongoing failures.” 

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who isn’t prepared to ensure that all employees perform at the highest level isn’t prepared to take on a leadership role. 

What is your strategy for handling a customer’s complaints, even when the customer is clearly wrong?

What you want to hear: Customers bring all kinds of complaints into a store that may exceed the knowledge or authority of a sales associate to resolve. A strong candidate will discuss the importance of monitoring customer engagements with sales associates and knowing when to step in to help address a situation. They should be able to explain techniques for deescalating any tensions, listening to the customer’s concerns or requests, and arriving at a satisfactory solution within the bounds of store policy.

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who gets frustrated and ineffectual when customers complain and are wrong, such as attempting to return a used item or presenting an expired coupon, will not provide a level of customer service that preserves or enhances your store’s reputation.

How well do you handle long hours on shift, even after extremely busy days?  

What you want to hear: Given the varied nature of duties in any one shift, the Assistant Store Manager must be prepared for days that are physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Look for a candidate who is prepared to meet the challenge with drive and enthusiasm. An excellent candidate may even share specific techniques they use to maintain productivity during high fatigue time periods, including properly prioritizing tasks and delegating responsibilities. 

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who doesn’t appear energized by the high activity nature of the Assistant Store Manager role is a risk for falling short in team management, customer service, and store manager support.

Have you ever thought about or actually implemented a change of process at work?   

What you want to hear: A candidate who is ambitious and ready to take on a manager-level role should show they are observant and curious by nature. A strong candidate will be able to discuss a process they found to be inefficient or ineffective, ideas they came with to improve the system, and how they communicated those ideas to their supervisors. At the very least they should demonstrate that they have thought about changes and would be interested to learn how to bring those ideas forward for implementation.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A candidate who simply does their job without any apparent motivation to challenge the status quo for improvements that will enhance their individual performance of their team’s performance is likely not ready for a management position.  

What is your experience with or knowledge of sales tracking systems? 

What you want to hear: Depending on your candidate’s previous job, this question may be beyond their skill set and training. The candidate may or may not recognize sales tracking is a process of monitoring the sales pipeline to discover new strategies for increasing sales. A candidate familiar with the system is a plus. For candidates who are not familiar with the system, listen for a level of curiosity and an eagerness to learn. 

Red Flag IconRed flag: Does your candidate simply say “I don’t know about that” or do they follow up by asking relevant questions about how sales tracking works and inquiring if they will be trained more fully on it once they are on the job? 

Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Assistant Store Manager position.

Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:

  • Understand the importance of the role to the store manager, employees, and customers
  • Are curious about how systems work and how they can be improved 
  • Have excellent management and customer service skills