In 2014 what is the most important thing Retail candidates must demonstrate at interview?

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The retail recruitment market is now moving at its fastest pace since 2007. I can’t back this statement up with statistics (other than overall unemployment is now down to 6.8%) but I have spoken to a lot of employers and candidates recently and they have all said the same thing, it is much better out there. In fact it is dramatically different to this time last year. Candidates whom were struggling to get an interview previously now often have anywhere from 3-5 processes. Clearly this creates a new problem, what roles do you go for…another blog for another time!

Despite the fact that the market is shifting, it is still, just, an employer driven market. I stated in my previous blog that I think this will have tipped in the candidates favour by September. In the meantime employers are still relatively cautious with interview processes usually running over several stages, psychometric tests common place and the assessment centre used liberally to work through volume.

However, regardless of how employers are approaching their selection there is one trait/behaviour/characteristic that they all want to see.


As retailers pull out of cost cutting and look to growth they will need a different type of leadership. The vast majority of retailers have taken a battering over the last six years and while in the main the fittest have survived there is still a big job at hand. The rate of change has been fast over the recession but few retailers have a genuinely joined up multi-channel strategy or have truly embraced the range of technological resources available. The high street isn’t dead either and there are a lot of chains looking to expand again. This is only going to increase as the economy improves, confidence returns and retailers look to invest again.

As a result employers are looking for candidates with the drive, passion and desire to support this growth. They need ENERGY.

I think I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have asked candidates to demonstrate energy at an interview, a bit of fizz as a client said to me last week. So how do you demonstrate ‘fizz’?

1)      Talk with your hands.

2)      Use positive body language, lean forward, keep a good posture at all times.

3)      Vary your pitch, tone, volume and pace of talking.

4)     Talk about things, when relevant, that you are genuinely passionate about.

5)      Drink a coffee.

6)      Ensure your eyes are ‘sparkling!’ Get a good nights sleep and if you are still looking a bit tired then try some eye drops.

7)     Smile, smile and smile. Laughing helps too.

If you feel you can’t really demonstrate energy in your interview, you are probably applying for the wrong job! Everyone excepts that you shouldn’t try and be someone that you are not but this is your one chance to impress a potential employer and convince them of your energy and drive to perform. Make sure you take that opportunity.

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