During a year that’s been brutal for so many business types, ecommerce sellers have been able to keep their operations stable (or even grow them) because their business models don’t rely on standard office activity or in-person meetings — and because demand for online retail has skyrocketed while people have been stuck at home.
This all means that you have a golden opportunity to secure lasting employment in a field that continues to move with the times — so it isn’t something to be taken lightly. You need to put time and effort into getting ready to present yourself in the best possible light.
To that end, here are some key things you need to do before an ecommerce job interview:
Try running your own ecommerce store
Learning as much as you can about the ecommerce world is a great idea, of course (which is why we’ll address that through the next section), but you can only get so familiar without having any experience in the industry. If you’ve worked for an ecommerce business before, that’s going to help, but there are advantages to knowing what it’s like to run such a business.
Should you give up on the interview and go into business for yourself as a full-time merchant? Hardly. But you don’t need to go all-in on your own store to simply try it out. There are plenty of ecommerce platforms out there (you can read about some here) that can allow you to build a store extremely quickly and without spending much money.
Even just spending a couple of days creating a store, filling it with sample products and planning some marketing materials can expand your perspective (you don’t need to actually sell or promote anything). The better you understand what it’s actually like to work on the back end of a store, the more insight you can offer in the interview.
Brush up on standard industry knowledge
There’s a lot that goes into running a modern ecommerce business: developing the store, choosing the products, writing the copy, tweaking the layout, setting the prices, building the social media accounts, negotiating with influencers, and myriad other elements. And while you might be interviewing for a niche position (graphic design, for instance), you should still ensure that you have a solid overall understanding of how the industry operates.
This shouldn’t take too long because the internet is packed with convenient resources. If you want to cover the basics of ecommerce SEO (which is a vital concern), you can check out Shopify’s beginner’s guide. If you’d like to expand your general digital marketing skills, there are plenty of suitable courses you can attempt: here are eight to consider. Whatever you want to learn about, you’re just a simple Google search away from a free in-depth resource.
Be sure to take your time, though. Breezing through numerous courses in a day might briefly make you feel productive, but it won’t help you if you don’t retain any of it. Take notes, revisit sections you’re not sure about, and focus on the areas that most interest you — when you’re asked about them, you’ll be far more likely to feel confident discussing them.
Research the company’s main strengths
The more you know about the company you’re hoping to work for, the better. Spend a while (perhaps an afternoon) visiting competitor sites and seeing how theirs stacks up. What do they do better than their rivals? What do they do worse? When you’re asked why you want to work for that company, you can set out its existing strengths, explaining how you can add to them.
You shouldn’t mention company weaknesses apropos of nothing, of course — but if you’re asked what you’d change about the company given the chance, you should be honest about the site’s flaws. Just be delicate. Coming across as overly critical will hurt your chances just as much as seeming disingenuously complimentary. Diplomacy is a valuable skill.
Whether you’re heading to a meeting room for an interview or participating in a virtual call with your potential employer, your approach to preparation should be the same. Pick up some relevant experience, and learn as much as you can about the industry and that company in particular. Everything after that will come down to execution.