What Is a Retail Job Application?

Retail Job Application Explained

Retail job applicant shakes manager's hand.
•••

 SDI Productions / Getty images

A retail job application is a form that job candidates fill out when applying for a retail position.

Find out how to fill out a retail job application and what information it may ask you to provide.

What Is a Retail Job Application?

A retail job application is part of the job application process for a retail position. It's a form that asks you for information on your education, training, and experience, as well as your availability. The hiring manager at the store uses it to gauge your background and skills relative to the position.

It's useful to fill out a sample application in advance, so you have the information you need when you sit down to complete the actual form.

This sample retail employment application form is for a cashier or customer service associate position in a store.

Retail Job Application

Who Uses a Retail Job Application?

Two types of people use a retail job application: the people applying for work, and the people who are hiring.

Job applicants use retail job applications to indicate their interest in applying for a retail position. They fill out the application with their information and submit it to the employer during their job hunt.

Employers use retail job applications to gather information about job applicants. They use that information during the hiring process to weed out undesirable candidates and to select candidates who are especially suitable for the job.

Where to Get a Retail Job Application

You may be able to pick up a retail job application form from the store or retail center you're interested in working for. If you speak with a manager and indicate interest in applying for a job, they may give you a paper application on the spot, which you can fill out and bring back at a later time.

Other stores have in-store hiring kiosks, which are a convenient and electronic way to apply on-site. With an in-store hiring kiosk, the job application is accessed with a computer, sometimes a touch screen. The kiosk computer may also request additional information or provide a screening test for applicants to complete.

Finally, many stores also provide online job applications. You can find these by visiting the store's website and searching for the "Careers" link, which usually lists open positions and provides a way to apply for them online.

How to Fill Out a Retail Job Application

In addition to basic personal information such as name, address, and education, you might also be asked to answer questions about how you deal with demanding customers, how you work with a team, and what you do when stressful situations arise at work.

Depending on the nature of the job, you might also be required to answer a few math questions to show that you’re comfortable with numbers.

The questions you're asked on a job application should be job-related only. Employers must avoid asking discriminatory questions on a retail job application that might screen out members based on protected status as determined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). For example, asking for date of birth could be viewed as age discrimination unless it's to verify work authorization for minors.

Experience/Employment History

You may find details about previous employment requested on the application. Come prepared with information about your previous employment, including dates of employment and addresses of your employers. If you worked at a similar establishment to the one you're applying to currently, it can be a plus.

If you worked with a similar cash register or check-out system at a previous job, that is also a bonus. You may want to list those skills on the job application.

Some examples of what you may be asked under Employment History on your application form include:

  • Previous position
  • Dates of employment
  • Company name
  • Company address
  • Supervisor's name
  • Key duties
  • Skills used

Availability

Providing your availability is important. The hiring manager wants to know whether your schedule will mesh with the hours they are looking to fill on the employee work schedule, so be honest with your answers. Some questions you may see in this portion of the application include:

  • What days and hours, Monday through Sunday, are you available for work?
  • How many hours per day can you work?
  • How many hours per week can you work?
  • If hired, would you have transportation to/from work?

Related Questions

The following are common questions seen on applications or asked at job interviews for retail positions. By preparing your answers, you'll be a step ahead if they come up.

  • Why are you applying to work here?
  • What has been your greatest accomplishment?
  • If hired, how long do you expect to work here?
  • Why do customers shop at this store?
  • What is customer service?
  • A customer complains that the coffee tastes terrible: What would you do?
  • What would you do if your replacement doesn't show up when it's time to go home?
  • A customer leaves without paying for gas: What would you do?
  • A co-worker is rude to customers: What would you do?

Math Questions

Retail jobs typically involve a lot of on-the-spot math, whether it’s making change or mentally calculating a bill.

While most employers won’t expect you to be able to add a long series of figures in your head, they will often expect you to be able to do basic arithmetic on the application. And they’ll definitely want to know that you’re comfortable with numbers so that you won’t get flustered on the job. Prepare for math questions and math problems. For example:

  • The customer's purchase totals $13.93. They give you a ten-dollar bill and a five-dollar bill. How much change do you give them?
  • If one bottle of soda costs 99 cents, how much do three cost? How much will they cost with 5% tax added on?
  • Each pot of coffee holds 6 cups. We usually sell 10 cups of coffee every fifteen minutes. How many pots of coffee will you need to make?

Key Takeaways

  • A retail job application is a form that job candidates fill out whey they apply for a retail position.
  • Retail job applications will usually require personal information such as name, address, and phone number, plus your previous employment history and education.
  • Some retail job applications also will ask hypothetical questions to gauge your response in stressful situations.
  • You may also be asked math questions to see how comfortable you are with numbers.

Article Sources

  1. SHRM.org. "Guidelines on Interview and Employment Application Questions." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.