What Would You Do if Your Replacement Doesn't Show Up?

Woman working in clothing shop
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When you are applying for a retail or customer service job, one question you might be asked is "What would you do if your replacement doesn't show up when it's time to go home?"

This is a critical question for customer service positions. It's important to make clear that you wouldn't just walk away, leaving your post unattended.

Here are a selection of sample answers you can use to respond to questions about what you would do if your replacement doesn't show up.

You should make sure that you come across as responsible, with an understanding of the importance that there be enough coverage at all times.

Examples of the Best Answers

  • I would call her first, and see if she was just held up in traffic, or dealing with an emergency somewhere. Then I would call the manager to see if there was someone who could come to relieve me, and I would stay until my replacement came in.
     
  • I wouldn't leave the floor understaffed. I would check with the manager first, and make every effort to make the necessary arrangements to stay until coverage was found. I might need to run out to get my kids if I couldn’t get someone else for them, but I would come back until a replacement came.
     
  • As the manager, I would be completely responsible for coverage. If someone didn't come in, and I couldn't find a substitute, I would cover the shift myself.
     
  • At my last job, this happened to me more than once. We had several employees at the time who were dealing with different family issues, and would sometimes be called away, even on the way to a shift. We were often not notified, and while we tried to accommodate their issues as fairly as possible, at a certain point we needed to make sure that we had coverage, and that the rest of us weren’t getting left in the lurch. What I did was compile a list of “extra” shifts - meaning ones that I thought were likely to be vacated. I made sure that of the employees who wanted to work more hours let me know their availability each week. That way, without calling out the employees who were struggling, I was able to give the extra work to those that wanted it. Luckily, I had a number of people who had flexible schedules, and the issue didn’t last for more than a few months.

    Review More Frequently Asked Questions

    It’s helpful to review common questions asked during retail and customer service positions, so you can brainstorm some ideas and come up with specific examples of success regarding the question asked. Interviewers want concrete evidence and examples of instances when you did or achieved certain things.

    Thinking through a few scenarios from your past experience will help keep those events uppermost in your mind, ready to share during the interview process.

    During your interview, the hiring manager is trying to determine what kind of an employee you will be, and if you’ll be a good fit for the job. Carefully read the job posting, and find out as much about the company as possible. That way, you can tailor your answers to fit with the company culture. Doing enough research about the job and the company will make your interview go smoother for a number of reasons. You will feel much more confident going in when you know what the job entails, and how your skills match what they are looking for. You’ll get a good idea of how to dress for your interview as well. Also, you may have a better understanding of what their focus is, and what kinds of interview questions you may be asked.

    By researching the company and getting a feel for what they stand for and the kind of people that work there, as well as what their business is, you will not only be prepared to answer interview questions, but will be able to ask intelligent, well thought out questions of your own, which will impress the hiring manager.

    Remember that interviewing is a two way street, and it makes you appear confident and prepared when you can engage in a conversation rather than just answering questions.