Store Manager Interview Questions

When hiring a Store Manager, look for a candidate who has experience in all facets of store operations. An effective Store Manager will be able to multitask effectively in a fast-paced environment, tackling issues ranging from sales and operations to human resources, finance, and customer service. 

A qualified Store Manager will bring a leadership mentality focused on maximizing team productivity and profitability. A diverse skill set should include developing and implementing business strategies, setting and achieving sales goals, managing store finances and inventory, keeping appropriate records, arranging in-store displays and promotional materials, motivating team members, and ensuring customer satisfaction.    

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 Store Manager interview questions to help you get started: 

What factor do you believe has the greatest impact on a store’s sales volume?  

What you want to hear: There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Circumstances vary so sales can increase for any one reason or a combination of reasons. What you want to hear is a candidate who can readily discuss all of the relevant factors that could affect sales, such as the available merchandise, effectiveness of sales associates, location of the store, marketing campaigns, in-store promotions, price points, and the like.  

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who jumps on one factor or another without discussing how all relevant factors work together is not bringing the broad field of vision this role requires to be successful.

How do you motivate your team of sales associates? 

What you want to hear: A strong leader will recognize that motivating a team requires more than one technique. A good candidate will explain how they work to understand each individual team member and the team as a whole. Listen for the range of techniques the candidate appears to have a command of, such as open communication, clear and attainable goal setting, performance reviews, financial rewards, recognition awards, suggestion boxes, and venues for conflict resolution. 

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate with a limited toolkit for motivating their team may not be ready to be an effective leader, potentially resulting in employee dissatisfaction, high turnover, low productivity, and lost sales.  

How would you identify and prevent shrinkage from occurring in our store? 

What you want to hear: Improper cash and inventory management is a risk for many stores. It is the responsibility of the Store Manager to implement strategies for preventing such loss. Listen for a candidate who thoroughly understands the issue, the potential sources of shrinkage, and techniques for reducing shrinkage. You want to hear about increasing employee accountability by monitoring cash handling and reconciliation practices; training staff to follow security procedures such as watching for customers with oversized bags and those making limited eye contact; and evaluating the store layout by configuring aisles with open spaces, low shelving, and a good range of visibility.

Red Flag IconRed flag: Shrinkage directly affects the store’s bottom line of profitability. A Store Manager who is not keenly aware of the issue and how to address it is ill-equipped for the role. 

What would you do if a shift was short-staffed?  

What you want to hear: It is not uncommon for a shift to become short-staffed due to an employee calling in sick or leaving early for personal reasons, unexpectedly high volume of customer traffic, or the like. A strong candidate will show they are ready to jump in and figure out how to keep operations running smoothly even when short-handed. Perhaps they can call in another worker, or reassign tasks among several teammates to temporarily level off responsibilities, or assume the missing team member’s duties themselves.  

Red Flag IconRed flag: An Office Manager who lacks a “can do” attitude when short-staffed is not likely to be effective in the role. Allowing operations to falter because of a team member’s absence will result in poor customer service, lower sales, and a potential loss of store reputation. 

How many employees have you fired?   

What you want to hear: An experienced Store Manager will likely have encountered underperforming or dishonest employees. A qualified candidate will be able to explain the steps they took to address concerns with the employee, discuss methods for improvement, document all incidents and conversations, and ultimately exercise the remedy of termination.  

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Being an effective leader is not only about motivating productive employees, but also about recognizing employees incapable of making a valuable contribution to the store. A Store Manager who is not assertive enough to remove unfit employees from the team will cause a loss of morale among the quality workers, lower productivity, and lost sales and profits. 

How do you handle the taking of inventory? 

What you want to hear: This question challenges the candidate to walk you through a process central to the proper store operations. The candidate should understand the purpose of taking inventory is to let you know if loss-prevention techniques need to be changed, or if certain products are underperforming in sales. Listen for a candidate to outline the steps of printing a current inventory list; assigning employees to different sections of the store; counting current stock; noting inventory numbers on the printed list; reviewing returns and damages; and making final reconciliations.

Red Flag IconRed flag: A Store Manager who is unfamiliar with the specifics of taking inventory is not prepared to make accurate purchasing decisions, devise effective sales strategies, be accountable for shrinkage, or properly lead your team. 

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

Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:

  • Have broad knowledge of all aspects of store operations
  • Can effectively lead your team
  • Have a keen awareness of profitability factors such as sales and shrinkage