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9 qualities that make you hirable to a retail manager

Want to know the secrets of getting hired? Managers are looking for these traits, in order, when hiring retail employees

9 qualities that make you hirable to a retail manager

These top skills will get you hired in retail.

In retail, you’re often told to “sell your skills.” But what skills? How do you sell them in person? Regardless of the job you want in retail, whether it be tech, design or sales, retail hiring managers are looking for a particular set of transferable skills and traits from their interviewees, according to research from the National Retail Federation. 

Here are the top nine important traits to hiring managers, in order, and tips on how you can showcase you're a great fit.

1. Dependability

In retail, it’s all about showing up.

"If you ask any HR person they will tell you 80% of discharges are due to absenteeism and/or tardiness. The theme is if you don't show up, failure follows," said Bart McGuinn, director of human resources at Abt Electronics & Appliances.

In addition to showing up at least 15 minutes early for your interview, statements like, “When my team was down an employee, I was there,” and “Any time my boss needed a replacement, I was the one he or she called,” stress how reliable you are. Saying you’re dependable and being able to speak to practical examples are two different thingsand hiring managers know the difference.

2. Communication skills

"When you get to the store for your interview, find a supervisor, introduce yourself and shake their hand. Say why you're there and ask where you can go to be interviewed,” said Jason L. Bauman, junior SEO associate at Trinity Insight. 

You want to appear personable and it’s a must that you communicate effectively so be concise in your answers. Make sure to address interview questions directly and to do your homework before the interview so you're able to articulate yourself professionally.

3. Being self-motivated

Come prepared to the interview with an example of your greatest accomplishment. Did you increase sales? How? Did you change a process to improve efficiency?

Bauman suggests to arrive with a list of questions of your own. “Not just ‘how much will I make’ but ask about promotion paths, investment opportunities, etc. Show that you're thinking about the job beyond just the paycheck," he said.

4. Respect for leaders and co-workers

Your hiring manager will want to see examples of how leaders and co-workers earned your respect. Have you been punctual? Are you able to get along with difficult co-workers?

"If you cannot get along with others, you can be the smartest person in the room but doomed because no one will want to work with you," said McGuinn.

5. A positive attitude

"For me, someone shaking my hand, and having a good handshake, was important. Eye contact is also a big deal, particularly when most of your peers will spend the interview staring at the table and I can see every time their hand twitches when they want to go for their phone," said Bauman. 

Smile. Nod to show you’re listening. Don’t cross your arms (you don’t want to appear closed off or unapproachable).

6. The ability to work on a team/in a team environment

"Collaboration is the juice of innovation and the source of synergy. Without it, usually things go downhill fast," said McGuinn.

Be ready to explain how you've made a contribution to a team. How have you shown you’re a team player, a hard worker? Will you step up to pitch in to help the team get through a busy time?

7. Adaptability

You don’t need to necessarily have every single skill on the job description but value is measured in your ability to be open and show you’re a quick learner.

"Adaptability is critical to take on more challenges and is the foundation for learning and subsequent behavioral change," said McGuinn. Be prepared to discuss a time you've adapted to a new situation at work, school or adaptability in cultural settings.  

8. Problem-solving skills

It’s important for you to be able to think on your toes and to have a clear understanding of company policies. McGuinn often asks in the interview, "What would you do if you witnessed a fellow co-worker stealing?" 

The right answer: "Relay incident to my supervisor." McGuinn says it's important to answer questions like these without hesitation.

9. The ability to prioritize a workload

Retail is fast-moving with lots of (often sudden) demands thrown your way. Knowing how to multitask is critical to all retail employees. You need to be able to look at your to-do list and see which tasks to put at the top of your list. 

Looking for great jobs in retail? Do this next

Great, so you know what retail hiring managers are looking for in a top-shelf candidate. Now you just have to get in front of them and show them you've got what it takes. We can help with that. Join Monster today. As a member, you'll get retail job alerts sent directly to your inbox so you can spend less time searching through job ads and more time interviewing for the perfect position. Cha-ching!


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