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RHUer Needs Retail Interview Advice

Carolanne2 101 Hey all. Kuriko here.

First time poster, long time commenter, yadda yadda, shaloopy shaloopy.

Gotta surprise, and a couple of questions.

Yes, that's right folks. I hopefully will be back and kicking! I have an interview with Macy's at Franklin Park Mall in Toledo here in lovely Ohio state, and its exciting!

I know that it's an upscale place too. My ma is taking me to Fashion Bug sometimes tomorrow or Thursday to get me an outfit to wear. (Yes, I am that poor that I have no nice clothes. That's why im looking for work. Plus a tremendous amount of debt me and hubbs owe, but that's beside the point.)

I am happy to be back in that lovely cesspit I love to call Customer Service Hell. (cue music from JAWS) I also found out recently that I am borderline Schizo. Added to my Manic Depression and ADHD/ADD combo it adds kind of a touch don't it? Although its true many of my kind can lead normal* lives like the rest of ya, its only THAT much harder to KEEP a job.

(Which explains why I have NEVER been able to keep one.) I digress. Anywho I'm not telling anyone about that where I will be working as I tend to be a different person completely at work. A better person. Usually.

I am writing to y'all because I need HELP! (Aside from the fact I have been meaning to because y'all are amazing and awesome and have gotten me through some pretty rough times, and thoughts.) I know a couple of you, at least one of you works at Macy's or something like it. Now I will take advice from anyone at this point, (Its the first time iv reached out for help mind you, and its hard.) but I truly need advice from other Macy slaves. I have QUESTIONS!

1. HOW DID YOU WIN OVER/IMPRESS THE HIRING COORDINATORS?

I'm not trying to make a fake impression or anything but I am a much more direct and professional person past the interview. I get a little timid sometimes during the interview process. Not good at being put on the spot unless on the job.

2.HOW SHOULD I DRESS?

I want to make a good impression, obviously. I'm going to Fashion Bug in the next day or 2 so I need ideas. Casual/Dressy/Relaxed etc etc.

3.WHAT SHOULD I DO AND NOT DO?

In other words, nervous tics. I tend to bounce my legs, or scratch my head, or twiddle my ears. I don't know im doing it half the time and I haven't had work since JUNE. Nervous Nelly isn't usually in my vernacular but I'm coming back into this so ill be a bit jumpy.

4. IS IT OKAY TO CHECK IN FOR THE INTERVIEW A HALF HOUR BEFORE?

I only ask because I live EDT and when I scheduled for the interview it was for CDT. (I had no options it was online.) I do believe that's an hour behind me but just to be safe I need to know if its okay to do so.

5. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?

You all are the best to run to for advice so here I am, the first time in practically ever asking for help. Is there anything I should expect? Anything they might not tell me to see if I can figure it out myself. (Obviously not good at it.) Anything at all would be helpful.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE have answers BEFORE noon EDT Saturday. That's when my interview is. I know its a bit late posting this but I put my application in yesterday (no joke) and I received the email today.

You all are so amazing, PLEASE HELP!

-Recurring Retail Slave-

(Is this a good name for me as well as Kuriko? JW)
-Kuriko

Comments

SPARky

The one thing that bugs me the most when I'm interviewing candidates is when they dont ask ANY questions whatsoever. Nothing, nada. Or, the only ask what the rate of pay is.

Ask questions about the job ("What's involved in this position on a day to day basis? I really like doing X & would like to learn more about Y"), about your future ("Are there many opportunities to train or move on in the company?") etc. Don't act like it's all about the paycheck!

Also, clothing wise? The people I remember are those in smart black (ironed!) trousers, a nice top and smart jacket. Doesn't have to be a suit or anything, just something that says "hey, look. I made an effort". Clean nails, no nail varnish. Tidy hair. No permanent marker moustaches.

Be yourself, and don't ever say "oh yeah, I've been trained to do that" or "I've got 10 years experience doing that" if you don't. Show how commited you are to the job/company and your willingness to sell your soul to them in OT.

Good luck!

Gas Peddler

Everything that SPARKky said plus this: get there early, but I wouldn't say half an hour prior. 10-15 minutes is perfect.

Pagemaster

If your worried about the time then calling ahead to confirm it, stating your reasoning, would likely make you look more prompt and professional anyway.

For my interview (at a chain bookstore) I wore slacks and a pull over. Nothing fancy pants for a position in a business center, but definitely not jeans and a tee shirt. It's better to be OVER dressed than UNDER dressed.

Be honest and a polished version of 'you'. If your not an over the top exuberant person, don't pretend to be one. Generally the more you fidget the more nervous they know you are. I saw a girl ask for an application who was visibly nervous and my managers mentioned it when she left. Be calm and collect yourself.

Arrive early like Gas Peddler suggested. Better to be early than late.

Generally just calm down and be yourself just...polished. You don't have be a car salesmen for yourself but you can't assume these people are your 'best buds' and treat them like such.

When I got my job it was very quick and to the point, nothing frivolous really :P It only took a week from my app turn in.

And they almost always ask "Tell me about yourself.." -__-' if your nervous maybe you should print out some questions you might get nervous to answer and read them off to your mirror to become comfortable with yourself.

Admissions Whore

I agree with Pagemaster. Practice in the mirror or with a friend before hand. One of the things my college did was mock interviews and they taped them so you could see your body language. If you have a nervous twitch (fidgeting, playing with your hair etc.) they will know and if you figure out what that might be before hand you have a better chance of not doing it.

Kuriko

Gosh you all are so helpful. (If I get the job God willing I will have to ask you for help more often.) My ma tried to make me "dress to the 9's" as she said but I added some casual pieces of my own to dress it down a bit. The good thing? I have my very first pair of pin stripe pants! Excite! I am going to pair a nice comfortable yet cute T to go with my pants and sweater. Like I told my ma, "Ill dress decent definitely, but im not going to be a fake and dress how I normally don't." Like Pagemaster said, a more polished version of me. (Oh also excite. I am doing my hair too. I'm going to lighten it. A nice ash blond. The first time iv been blond ever. Iv wanted to do it for a long time now. I know I will look good because I did one of those virtual makeovers and tried different colors of blond. Plus im a trained cosmetologist so I know it will look good with my skin tone.)
Thanks for the advice so far.
Keep 'em coming!

Care Plan Pimp

Dress polished but don't wear any flashy accessories, nail polish, jewelry, etc. The interviewer should be looking at YOU, not your stuff. Also, just my opinion, but maybe you should wait until after your interview to get highlights. Something like that won't make or break your job in retail, BUT if the hairdresser accidentally messes up and you have a nightmare dyejob it might affect their opinion of you and your performance.

If you have nervous tics, fold your hands in your lap to avoid messing with your hair, etc. Don't keep them locked there the whole time, but use that as a reminder.

Spritzy

I work in the hiring office at my company so here are a few pointers, judging from the applicants we've had through our doors.
1. Half an hour early is a little early to check in, you could show up 30 min early and then browse the store for a bit, but I would reccomend not checking in any more than 15 minutes early. The managers may be busy and knowing you're out there waiting for a full half hour may stress them.
2. Call the day before to verify your appointment. I always appreciate when applicants do this, we're human too and sometimes glaze over an applicant and forget they're coming, verifying the apointment helps us remember to get everything in order.
3.Go in the store a day or so ahead of time and observe what the employees wear, dress simmilarly to them.
4. Answer questions honestly but don't give out more info than needed, however don't respond with short two word answers. Have set in your mind examples you've had in the past of good customer service, how you helped a customer above and beyond, what your strong points in work are, What your future employment goals would be...and so forth. Smile, be pleasant, breathe deeply to keep your voice calm.
5. Everyone has nervous tics...try your best to stick with one that's least noticeable like tapping your foot. As I said before remember to breathe deeply to keep yourself calm, avoid caffiene that morning so that you'll be less likley to be as jittery. The interviewer anticipates a certian level of nervousness.
6. Be sure to bathe and brush your teeth...no one wants to be stuck in a room with a stinky person...I'm sure you knew that but I've had to put up with downright rank applicante before so I thought I'd throw that in.
DON'Ts:
Dont wear any perfume, if the interviwer is allergic it may distract them from how good an applicant you are and just make them think of their now inflaimed sinuses.
Dont be late....but you already knew that.
Dont tell them about any of your disorders, it's illegal for them to ask you about them and if you volunteer any info on that it may play against you
Dont bring up any major foo-pas you've done in past jobs (lost a buncha money, misplaced a big order, infuriated a few customers) if they ask you about any short comings in past jobs, keep the answer vauge...such as wanting to improve on organization or time management.
Dont wear anything that refers to any alcohol or drug images (no budweiser t-shirts or pot-leaf necklaces...yes I've had applicants come in wearing that stuff) it gives a bad impression...also don't wear anything too low-cut or revealing.
I think I've said enough...hope that helps.

Marsh Creature

Just a quick tip for the nervous tics, what I always do is wear a ring on my middle finger (not showy- a silver band with a celtic knot) and press my thumb into it in my lap, it keeps me from doing anything else with that hand.

cary

As far as the time thing - you live in CDT (let's say it's 10:00 in the morning) you need to remember that EDT has already enjoyed their 10:00 hour and it is now 11:00 in EDT land.

So - the 12:00 EDT interview is at 11:00 CDT. Plan accordingly - as a hiring manager, the last person I'm going to hire is one who shows up 30 minutes late for the appointment!

Meg

1. HOW DID YOU WIN OVER/IMPRESS THE HIRING COORDINATORS?

At any job, by conveying dependability, an eagerness to help, and an open mind. Open-mindedness is important, to give an answer that conveys that is simple. Come up with a reason to support why you'd choose BOTH options presented to you. For example, almost any interviewer will ask if you work better alone or as part of a team. So you might say something like, "I'm self-motivated and enjoy the responsibility of solo projects, but I also appreciate the opportunity to contribute to other people's ideas/goals. My goal overall is to be helpful in whatever way is needed at the time."

2.HOW SHOULD I DRESS?

Dress how the current employees dress. I do not recommend a t-shirt if they wear button-downs. I don't recommend a button-down if they're all in cardigans. Make sure you look tidier than usual. You said you didn't want to do something that you wouldn't normally wear, but this isn't about truth in advertising for you as an individual, it's more about showing that you acknowledge their dress code and are willing to set aside your clothing preferences while at work.

3.WHAT SHOULD I DO AND NOT DO?

Breathe deeply, and since you plan to show up early, use that time to observe how employees act (are they loud? sedate? chatty?) and to get yourself relaxed in that environment.

Keep your limbs under control and do a bit of research on body language to be sure your attempts at being comfortable don't come off as disinterested, nervous, etc. If you have to fidget, don't do anything that makes noise or is distracting.

Don't let yourself get cowed by the idea of a Big Scary Hiring Manager, because a) they don't own you yet and b) they're just doing their job, too. You want to be remembered for being personable and capable, so take confidence in your abilities.

4. IS IT OKAY TO CHECK IN FOR THE INTERVIEW A HALF HOUR BEFORE?

I would do it ten to fifteen minutes early, max. Showing up too early has done two things for me: 1.) gotten me a rushed interview because they figured, "Hey, I can get this done early and have time for XYZ instead of taking the full time for the interview" and 2.) gotten me FORGOTTEN because they're usually crunched for time, had things to wrap up in that half hour, and completely spaced that I had checked in.

5. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?

If they ask you something you hadn't planned on, it's ok to take a minute to think before you answer. Review your answer mentally before giving it to be sure it's professional and fully formed.

It's also ok and encouraged to ask questions... my favorite has been, "How does the staff interact with each other? Are they more friendly or professional..?" because this often leads into them explaining their expectations, which gives you the opportunity to state that you could see what they're talking about during your time in the store, and to tell them how much you "appreciate the kind of environment that supports ______." (friendliness, productivity, etc.)

I know you may be worried about how your personal difficulties can affect your work, but the interview is NOT the time to discuss or mention any of them. If you have to bring it up in order to set up a plan, do it after you get the job offer, and in a way that is like a negotiation. Example: "I have some challenges related to my health that might require me to take the occasional day off. While I don't anticipate it happening often, I also usually don't have much more than 24 hours notice that it will be necessary. Should the situation arise, will that be able to be accommodated if I can give you a certain amount of notice?" (Phrasing it this way doesn't state or allude to the source of the trouble, and it shows that you are aware of what is necessary to handle it.) If taking a day off here and there with short notice helps you to be a better employee, then set that expectation ahead of time. Honestly, I know you need work, but you'll need to take care of yourself in order to remain as a productive employee. Don't take a job that doesn't support that.

FINALLY - the secret to the "tell me about yourself" question is that usually, they want to know that you have outside interests that allow you to de-stress from work. This lets them know that you won't get overwhelmed by the routine of having the job. So have some things in mind that you like to do for fun, usually a hobby (writing!) and an activity (pilates!)

Whew. That should be all, I think...

Redheadactress

I agree with all of the above and will add this:

Find out about the company BEFORE the interview. If you don't, it can look like you don't care.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BAD MOUTH YOUR PREVIOUS JOBS. Even if you want to tell the truth, that your boss was an uber douche bag, you shouldn't. Just say that were was a personality clash or some other way to sugar coat it. One job, I said that schedules didn't match up, which was the partial truth and left it at that.

Kititits

Don't worry so much. Breathe easy.

One good question to ask at this time of year is to verify whether this is a holiday hire or not (classified as temporary, usually ends early in January). If it is a holiday hire, ask about the options of post-holiday work. That shows you have desire for long-term employment.

Aisle-Standing

I agree with most of the things that have been mentioned above, but since you made a specific appeal to those of the Big Red Star, I'll pipe in as well.

Alright, this is where I feel like a heel, but as I am acquainted with the Big Red Star, I feel I should get this out. Said Big Red Star has an all black dress code. Solid black pants, solid black jacket/ cardigan/ pullover/ yadda yadda over any colored tees or tops (solid colors no print) so if the pin stripes on the pants are visible from more than ten feet away you may have to trade them in for an all black model. Sorry.

Also, you may have to fill an application in again on site so make sure you have all the information you need available. Also have hard copies of your resume with you.

Finally, your interview is on a Saturday which means the back office will be short staffed and the managers will be busy. So if you get shunted to the side for a bit don't take it personally. Normally I'd advise against taking something to read with you but if it will help keep you calm, you might slip something into your bag or grab a store flier or something to page through if it will help keep you on an even keel.

As for your health issues, that is something that I would wait to take up with your individual Sales Manager. He or she will set your schedules and will be the person you interact with on a day to day basis.

Good luck on your interview. I hope it goes well.

MerchBitch

I'm also quite familiar with the Big Red Star... and Aisle-Standing is correct in that the dress code is all black. You can get away with wearing a colored top if you have a black sweater, jacket or something similar over it. The Big Red Star I'm familiar with doesn't make too big a fuss over pinstripes that I've noticed, but be sure to check with the managers before you wear them to work. For the interview though, everyone else has had good suggestions. Big Red Star is business-casual so if you wear ironed dress pants and either a sweater or a button-down shirt you will be fine. I agree that you should wait to color your hair until after the interview. If you normally wear nail polish, I would make sure you either freshly paint them that morning or remove it all together. Chipped polish is unprofessional. And, if you have any tattoos, cover them for the interview and ask about the dress code policy. That way you can find out whether or not you need to keep them covered when you start working. I know the Big Red Star by my house is pretty relaxed about tattoos as long as they aren't offensive and customers do not complain.

As far as impressing the interviewer, just be honest with what you do or do not know how to do. I'm a fidgeter myself and I tend to move my hands a lot when I talk. The way I try to minimize that when I'm interviewing is to keep my hands in my lap. Holding them together helps too. If you're worried about bouncing your legs too much, try crossing them. I do that and if I feel like I need to move them I just switch legs.

A really important thing is to not bad-mouth your last jobs or say anything negative about your employers. If the interviewer asks a question like, "What was your least favorite thing about X position?" Try and answer the question with a positive spin. Like, "Well, doing Y and Z were not my favorite tasks, but when I had to do them I tried to do {blank} to make them go faster and not seem so bad." That way the interviewer won't think you complain a lot or that you will slack off on stuff you don't like.

Good luck!

S.S. Slave

I always have nervous ticks when in some slightly stressful situations so I have a fidget ring, just a simple gold band I can turn easily with my thumb. In the case that I forget my ring or can't wear it for some reason, I twitch my toes in my shoes, I curl them or do something. It's virtually unnoticable but still give me my "fix"

kittyfoster

I had an applicant show up in daisy dukes. Didn't matter what she said, I kept focusing on how she could sit/stand without it all hanging out!
So, wear a nice pair of pants, a nice sweater, and a nice pair of pumps. When asked a question, don't say "Huh?" if you didn't hear. "I beg your pardon" is a good response. Don't say "Yeah". Yes and no are always good.
After the interview, send an email or note thanking the interviewer for the opportinity to meet with them, and reiterating the reason you would be good for this position, and give a phone number where you can be reached for further questions (or that "you're hired!" call.)
Best of luck!

Naomi

You've had some great advice so far, I just have a couple of little comment sto add: remember to act polite and professional to every person you interact with there, before and after the interview. You never know when the hiring manager might ask the other employees what they thought of you. You'll make a good impression by being just as nice to them as you will be to the interviewer (but professional - don't tell them your life story or problems yet!)

Since I also tend to be nervous myself, I take some time to relax and tell myself lots of positive things (like affirmations) just before the interview - remind yourself how good you can be on the job, what a worthwhile person you are, and so on. There will be time for worrying or negative thoughts afterwards - try not to let them intervene before or during. Another way to put it is, if you don't feel confident - fake it! Seriously, there's nothing magic about confidence - if you pretend to have it, you do! I've gotten more than one job that way. ;-)

Good luck!

Callista

Hey--Good luck with your interview!! That's all I can say; the others have already said pretty much everything I know about it.

Anyhow, I'm disabled, and when it comes to getting a job, I've had good results with my state's bureau of vocational rehabilitation. (The grab-bag of labels you mentioned should be enough to get you in the door.) They are generally pretty good about helping you look for a job and prepare for interviews, if you need extra help; and you don't have to disclose the disability to your potential boss (well, unless it's obvious, which it wouldn't be in your case.) They can do job training too if you can't get a job you can do with the training you have. So that's something to try if you can't find a place right away.

Kuriko

Ill keep all of this in mind. I appreciate all your help everyone. Its rare when I actually do ask for help that's for sure. As for the pinstripes they are tiny and I didn't even notice them until I got close. I already did my hair and as far as that goes I have to say, I am VERY surprised at how AWESOME it turned out! My blond looks natural. Plus it slightly fades from lighter to medium on the way down giving it that slightly sun-kissed look. (Like iv been outside or something. Plus its Dark Blond so about 2 shades lighter than my natural color.) Its got depth too that makes it even more natural looking. I'm more confident about tomorrow now I think. Ill also keep the "I beg your pardon?" thing in mind. I tend to say the Huh thing without even knowing it.
Thanks again guys and ill let you know how it turns out!

Horse Bitch

I'm very surprised that no one has mentioned this yet:

STAY OFF YOUR CELLPHONE/IPOD/WHATEVER.

Even if you show up early and you want to pass the time by playing on some electronic device, you appear uninterested to your potential employer.

Better yet, don't bring them into the building with you or if you do then make sure that it is OFF (not on vibrate) and cannot be seen- ie. in your purse.

Good luck tomorrow! Let us know how it went, :]

NC Tony

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet: smile and make eye contact. I've heard people mention that one of the turn off's of potential employers is an interviewee who's got that deer in the headlights look, is looking all around the room (anywhere but at the interviewer), or is sitting there blank faced. And if it comes up if you and the interviewer happen to have something in common (like kids for example), you could have a quick little aside about it (nothing too big, I've quickly mentioned during my interview about my son, and the hiring manager and I talked for a quick minute about being parents, then got back to the interview process).

Everyone's covered everything else. Good luck!

Kuriko

EXCITE!!! (cue "Hallelujah" song) I had BOTH of my interviews today one right after the other! That's right, count em, 2!!! It was so awesome! I took EVERYONE'S advice!
@SPARky - I did ask questions! I asked about advancement after iv been there so long and the hours. She answered them happily and readily.
@Gas Peddler - I actually did get there half hour early, but they didn't mind. I had to ask about the CDT EDT thing anyway. Turns out it was an error on the web page. I live in EDT but it was still at 3:30PM. They told me they'd rather me be early than late so they happily helped.
@Pagemaster - I did everything you said and it gained me an A+ I think. I was actually less nervous than I thought I'd be. They never did ask me the "Tell me about yourself" one but I threw in some stuff anyhow when I was answering the other questions. Turns out I had a lot in common with one of the hiring coordinators.
@Admissions Whore & Marsh Creature & S.S.Slave - I folded my hands in my lap almost the entire time.
@Care Plan Pimp - Same as above and I already did my hair. I went to hairdressing school in high school but nothing ever came of it sadly. It turned out very nice.
@Spritzy & Cary - I actually called 3 times with the number their website told me to. Every time they'd direct me to HR it would take me to an answering machine that wasn't even in use. I went in today and asked and they were very helpful and very willing to help. I got very lucky.
@Meg - I took all your advice into consideration and it did get me by. I did watch the other employees occasionally while I waited to go in. Turns out I act a lot like they do on the job. Plus the one I will be working at, all of the employees act like they love it there, say nothing but good things about it and have general happy dispositions.
@Redheadedactress - I got lucky in that I already knew quite a lot about the company before hand. I am interested to know if they do anything special around Thanksgiving for their annual NY Parade.
@Kititits - Actually I did just that. When I start it will be Part Time including hours others don't want, during the Holidays a spike, then after the holidays I could be moving up to Full Time! That will be a miracle and amazing. It will also be the very first time I will have ever worked Full Time. I'm excited.
@Aisle Standing - I knew about the dress code. I like the dress code. I love black and look good in it. I had several people comment about my pin stripe pants. The stripes are extremely thin and from afar my pants look plain black. Plus these are boot cut office type. They liked them.
@MerchBitch - The only thing I couldn't do was change my polish but I designed the look at it was Fall Professional anyway. As for tats, I only wish I had them. I couldn't cross my legs because alas, im fat. But I did sit still like I thought I wouldn't. Also as for the least fave of last position. I was honest and said the standing around. I made it known this time that I do much better when I am constantly on my feet which sat very well with them I must say. They liked the idea that I am convertible to any position and they want to use me as a full on Sales Associate.
(Yay dream job!)
@Kittyfoster - I did just that. I simply asked "What was that last question again?" She took it well and willingly repeated it for me.
@Naomi - I actually met one of the employees there, well several, and they were all very polite to me. I must say for a busy day they were all very polite. I think that gave me a leg up.
@Callista - Thank's for the advice if I ever need it!
@Horse Bitch - I don't have minutes for my phone. Haven't for several weeks now. I lost my Ipod over a year ago. But yes, I would always turn off those. An interview is not the appropriate place for them.
@NC Tony - I always make great eye contact. I learned a bit about that in seventh grade actually. How often someone makes eye contact can tell you a lot about their comfort level with that person. The less contact, the less comfortable, the more contact, the more comfortable. I always try to keep eye contact. It forces me to be comfortable which usually pays off in the end.
I just wanted to make it a point to respond to each of you as I felt you all individually helped me.
So thank you again and I will let you know if and when I get the job!

Halfhearted Sales Ninja

Good luck, let us know when they hire you :D

Book Bastard

Question for SPARky:

Sometimes it *is* all about the paycheck. I'm not going to flip burgers because I care about the success of McDonald's, nor am I going to work in *any* company not related to my interests simply for the sake of that company's financial well-being; I'm going to do it because I desperately need that paycheck and don't have the opportunity to choose which job I take.

That said, could you clarify what you mean by "show how committed you are to the job/company"?

In any case, good luck to Kuriko!!

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