A retail assistant manager generally balances two key roles. She assists the manager in providing leadership and direction for the store. She also helps facilitate a positive guest experience by interacting with customers directly and by leading retail staff during shifts. Some management education helps someone prepare for this career, but retail experience and shift leadership can help pave the way for success in an assistant manager interview.
An assistant retail manager is a leader. She typically takes oversees the work of employees during particular shifts. Just as a store manager must provide some level of discipline and task direction, the assistant manager must as well. Thus, a good interview question is "What strategies do you use to address employee disrespect or poor performance?" A good answer likely includes approaches to reinforce positive performance and behaviors. Quick, immediate and impersonal correction of errors or poor decisions is key as well.
A question that delves into the candidate's personality is also helpful given the importance of an assistant that projects a positive attitude, but also has good leadership qualities. "How would you describe yourself?" and "What three adjectives best describe you?" are two examples of questions that could lead to insights. Friendly, go-getter, leadership-oriented, helpful and positive are all great adjectives from a potential assistant retail manager. These qualities would enable an assistant to balance customer service and employee management.
Assistant manager roles can vary somewhat depending on the retail environment. This makes the question "What do you view as the role of an assistant retail manager?" an excellent question. This question allows the hiring manager to hear what the candidate views as the job and compare that to the role in the particular business. Familiarity with customer service and leadership responsibilities and recognition of the importance in carrying out store manager directives are positives in an answer.
It is definitely helpful to ask an assistant candidate to share perspective on her leadership style to see if it fits well in the retail culture. "What is your leadership style?" and "Can you give an example of a time when you applied leadership abilities to motivate or coach an employee?" are possible questions. The response can offer insights on whether the assistant is assertive, leads by example and has a good mix of employee consideration and task authority.