Six Interview Questions to Ask Potential Store Managers

While working on this month's cover story about finding great store managers, I asked each source used in the article to suggest one question that pet store owners and operators should ask during the interview process. Here's what they said:

1. What is your definition of good customer service?
Shep Hyken, a speaker and New York Times-bestselling author on creating company culture shared a question that retailer Nordstrom asks their applicants. He says that although there are literally hundreds of possible answers, it gives the interviewer a good sense of whether or not customer service is front of mind for that particular applicant.

2. You're sitting here 12 months from now and I ask you, 'What did you accomplish?'—how do you respond?
Ira Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions says this is his favorite interview question because it really requires applicants to think about what they want to accomplish in that first year, something essential when hiring someone for a management position. It requires that they've done their research and have a good understanding of the job they're applying for.

3. Why do you want to be here?
Debrah Glovier, a Los Angeles-based retail consultant, says she uses this question to gauge someone's level of passion for the job. Good answers include wanting to run multiple stores or working while in vet school—it shows they'll bring their A-game—while bad answers include, "for the money."

4. What in life has prepared you to tackle taking on such a large project?
Eric Cuomo-Jones, regional director of the 14-pet store chain Red Bandanna, likes this question because an applicant may not have an experience directly parallel to running a store but this gives them an opportunity to talk about other things they have done that have taught them the skills they'll need to run one successfully.

5. Sing Happy Birthday
Dorothy and Doyle Hunter, owners of Paw's Natural Pet Emporium, routinely tell applicants it's one of their birthdays and ask them to sign happy birthday—they typically stop them as soon as they start singing, but the idea is that applicants are out of their comfort zone and this is something they are capable of doing. After all, if they can't sing Happy Birthday when they're nervous, how will they do under pressure on the sales floor?

6. What do people not know about you that you wish they did?
Biff Picone, co-owner of Natural Pawz, likes this question because it really makes people think—it shows how quickly they think on their feet and reveals something about them that the interviewer may not have learned otherwise.

Melissa Breau is a contribing editor to
Pet Business.