Buying is a highly competitive industry, meaning it’s crucial to ace the interview for the position you are going for. Excel’s Sarah Hurley takes the most common interview questions and how to tackle them.

Due to the size of the retail market in Ireland, there are limited Buying opportunities. Therefore, if you secure an interview, it is important that you build a strong case in order to land the job. Buyers hold a unique skill set so you will need to demonstrate this and relevant experience by giving your personal professional examples when answering their questions.

Tell me about your current area of buying responsibility?

To answer this question successfully, you will start off by giving the interviewer an overview of your department, what you buy and what that involves. Be prepared with your facts and figures and use this question as an opportunity to highlight any successes you and your team have had such as increased sales, increased sell-through rates or improved margins etc. You don’t have to talk actual sales figures but do give percentages if possible, ‘We traded up 5% on plan and reduced mark down by 8% year on year’.

What are your thoughts on the current range? Would do you anything differently?

The interviewer is looking for you to think commercially and critically, and to see that you’ve done your homework. Use your insights into the brand and their competitors to spot any gaps or missed opportunities within the range and explain your reasoning. Make informed suggestions by visiting stores beforehand and/or critiquing the range online and make reference to current trends, what competitors are doing, and what is happening in the wider market.

Who are our main competitors?

This question is to test your understanding of the retail market and where the business sits within this. Consider their customer, and what makes them shop with them over elsewhere. What does the business do better and worse than their competitors? Please keep criticism to a minimum and also be able to explain your thought process with actual examples. For any retail buying job, prepare by researching the market, who the big players are, any recent news (like an acquisition or merger), whose market share is increasing, whose is decreasing, etc. Ensure you discuss competitors operating within the same space and with the same customer base and aesthetic as the company you’re interviewing with. For example, if you are interviewing with Dunnes Stores, you will always talk about a business like Tesco as their direct competitor.

Tell me about some of your biggest negotiating successes?

A major part of any buying job is daily negotiation. Use real-life examples and demonstrate your ability to get the best commercial results for the business, while still maintaining a positive relationship with stakeholders inside and out of the business.

Other Common Questions for Buyer Interviews include:

Common Interview Questions for Buyers