Applicant Interview Tips

Typically, the day before a job interview, your brain goes into overdrive imagining all the things you might do wrong. What if your alarm doesn’t go off? What if you bungle an answer? What if… Stop! Anyone with a pulse will experience some anxiety about a job interview, but there’s no need to let fears race out of control. Our guide can help you relax, arrive on time, look your best, and sound like the professional you are.

We’ve taken a tactical approach to job interviews. We’ll guide you through the research phase, help you decide whether to apply or not, encourage you to do your homework, prepare you for the interview, ease you into the interview and help you follow up. This information is focused specifically on retail management—and applies to all levels from one store to multiple stores.

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Company research is very important in retail, and fortunately today with the Internet and  Google it’s gotten easier to conduct. You want to know everything possible about a company, including:

  1. Number of stores
  2. Company history
  3. Volume
  4. Earnings
  5. Profits
  6. Stock price
  7. Merchandise
  8. Customer profiles
  9. Expansion plans
  10. Philosophy/Mission Statement/Vision
  11. Geographic reach (local; global via website catalog, etc.)
  12. Stories in the press (their press releases; things written about them by outside sources, such as magazine or newspaper reporters; ratings such as “Best Company to Work For.
  13. Employee programs and relations (incentives, culture, turnover)

Prepare yourself to be able to speak about your current sales performance in terms of comp stores (stores that have been open for at least a year) and whether sales have increased or decreased as a direct result of your involvement. Learn enough to speak intelligently about the prospective company’s earnings, profit, and contribution (which is the same as profit).

What about its expansion plans? Is it moving into new markets? Speak to the specific merchandise that it sells. Know who the current company executives are and be prepared to speak to what their goals are.

Apply or Pass?

  1. Carefully review the job expectations/requirements listed on the job posting. Does it sound right for you? Would you be happy there a year from now? We all tend to project good things onto new situations—when we know very little about them! Make sure you are looking objectively at this opportunity.
  2. Can you speak effectively about everything listed for that job?
  3. How would you be able to achieve and succeed at those tasks and responsibilities?

Details of the Interview

  1. Can you effectively explain gaps in your resume or lack of qualifications, such as education?
  2. Can you speak to/about the company’s “problem(s)” and specifically how you will solve them?

Once you have decided you want to apply, and once you’ve gotten an interview, you might say you’ve got your work cut out for you.

While still on the phone about the interview, get a clear “contract” about what will take place there. Who will you meet with? Where? For how long? You might expect an hour; they might need two hours. You want to budget enough time to complete the process.

“Metropolis”: A Film Teeming With Symbolism

In 1927, there was a critical examination going on among intellectuals and filmmakers that looked at the relationship between working classes and the people who were felt to control the so-called “means of production.”

Communist theory of the day used that relationship to great effect, and it was genuinely believed among many people who may not have even had any sympathy for the idea of Communism that a growing tension between workers and rulers — the owners of the means of production — was destined to culminate in a final and possibly fatal struggle between the two for supremacy. Director Fritz Lang’s cinematic exploration of this theme, 1927’s Metropolis, is arguably one of the most groundbreaking silent movies of its time, and it took seriously its mission to critically examine one of the most important issues existing in that era. That it’s also one of the best science fiction movie classics of all time, with special effects still worthy of complement, is a side benefit that’s greatly appreciated among true movie aficionados even to this day.

The movie itself takes place in the year 2027 in the fictional city-state of Metropolis, which is designed and ran for the benefit of the corporate ruling elite, who are the “thinkers” (they don’t know how anything works, really, but they have all the beneficial ideas that eventually lead to the manufacture of things by other classes). Because thinkers live above ground, high up, the maintenance and upkeep of Metropolis falls onto the shoulders of the underground-dwelling working class, called “workers,” or “hands” (thinkers are also called “heads”). While a science fiction movie (for all intents and purposes) on the surface, Fritz Lang ably explores the issues of class and societal division so masterfully, one will walk away from this movie wondering at how we still have issues very similar to what he examined in 1927, today. Lang’s movie, though, is ultimately hopeful, even amidst the struggle between the thinkers and the workers for control of Metropolis. And his resolution, which at least in the movie solves the problem of inequality between social classes, can’t be anything but pleasing. Metropolis also skillfully makes use of prophetic vision in its central theme that there will be a “One,” or so-called “savior” who unites the classes at some point in the future. Most memorably, the recent Matrix franchise employed an idea of “The One,” and it drew some of its inspiration from Lang’s 1927 cinematic effort.

Both a science fiction masterpiece and a classic movie in any genre, Metropolis adeptly tells its story of urban stress — and how people are eventually negatively affected by it — in a way that discretely insinuates its exploration of class struggle, and also a prophetic vision usually found only in biblical or fantastical literature, without a moviegoer even realizing it’s been done. Truly a four-star effort.