How to become a trainee retail manager with Majestic Wine

'Impressive applicants show us they've learned something from their experiences.' – Majestic Wine

Candidates who join the trainee retail manager scheme at Majestic Wine can progress quickly. Majestic Wine says that trainee managers can be well on the way to assistant manager level after one year and completion of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 2 qualification. They can then go on to manage their own store after two to three years. This scheme suits candidates who have a desire to lead and are not afraid to make decisions that will affect the business. However, a successful manager is someone who is happy to undertake any task – however big or small – to ensure the business runs smoothly. Therefore, candidates need to be prepared to get hands-on with a range of different tasks throughout the scheme, including serving customers and making deliveries.

The online application form for trainee manager roles consists of the following sections:

  • Basic personal and contact details
  • Competency and commercial awareness questions
  • Qualifications
  • Employment history
  • Questions assessing your suitability for the practical tasks involved in the role, eg heavy lifting and driving
  • Diversity monitoring questions

Emphasise what you’ve learned from your extracurricular activities for a job with Majestic

The first question on Majestic Wine's application form is ‘Tell us about your extracurricular activities and interests. What have you contributed and what have you got out of them?’ You need to provide sufficient details so that the recruiters can understand the nature of your activities and interests, but don’t forget to write about 1) what you did and 2) what you’ve gained from your experiences. As Tom Lawrence, recruitment manager at Majestic Wine, says, ‘Impressive applicants have good experiences – either extracurricular or academic – and can show that they’ve learned something from those experiences.’

Although there is no word count specified, you don’t need to write about all of your activities and interests. Pick out the ones where you’ve learned the most and developed the skills that you’ll need in the job, including good people skills, teamwork, creativity, a good work ethic and the ability to achieve objectives.

Show that you understand Majestic Wine and the trainee management role

The next question on Majestic’s graduate application form is 'What do you think sets Majestic apart from other wine retailers?' This is testing your commercial nous and your understanding of the retailer. How does Majestic Wine differentiate itself from other specialist alcohol shops, supermarkets and so on? What is it doing to attract new customers and retain the loyalty of existing ones?

Among other things, when approaching this question you could think about:

  • Majestic’s customer service, something Tom has pinpointed as a key differentiator. If writing about this, it would be good if you could mention some examples of when you have shopped in Majestic and how you were treated.
  • Who its typical customers are. How does it meet their needs?
  • Majestic’s selection of stock and its pricing.
  • Majestic’s online shop and how this works together with its brick-and-mortar stores.

It's not enough just to list what you think sets it apart: you’ll need to say briefly why or how.

The final question on Majestic’s application form is: 'Why do you think you will be successful as a trainee manager and what do you think the role will involve?' This is a two-part question: you can either answer it all-in-one or treat each part separately. You need to:

  • Demonstrate that you understand the duties of the role. Majestic provides a list of the key responsibilities for their trainee managers. You’ll need to show that you understand how these translate into daily duties.
  • Communicate your enthusiasm for the role.
  • Give examples of (or say) how your skills/experience will help you in the role.

Spend time on these application questions. After all: ‘If an applicant does not understand us then we do not understand why they would want to work for us,’ says Tom.

At interview, confirm the good impression

Former trainee manager candidates on internet forums indicate that there are two interviews for the role – the first with HR and the second with a regional manager. These candidates suggest that the interviews consist of a combination of competency and commercial awareness questions. Some of the questions that these candidates reported receiving include:

  • Why do you want to work for Majestic?
  • With your varied experience and extracurricular activities, why do you want to work in wine and retail?
  • What qualities do you feel make a good manager?
  • What qualities do you think you can bring to the role?
  • Which retailer has a reputation for good customer service? Can you give me an example of a time when you received good customer service and how did it make you feel?
  • Who do you think is Majestic’s biggest competitor?

Several candidates also report that, in your first interview, you will be asked to sell a bottle of wine to the interviewer. Remember that this is a selling task, not a knowledge test, so you don't need to reel off facts about the wine. Think about what you could say to convince the recruiter to buy the wine, eg the 'Mix Six' deal or the free delivery service that Majestic offers.

The recruiters are looking to assess your customer service and people skills. ‘At the interview we are looking for people who will be at ease with our customers and their colleagues,’ says Tom. Remember that retail managers need to be good with people, develop the ability to think commercially and muck in when needed.

Don’t worry too much about your wine knowledge

Although it is an obvious advantage to have an interest in wine, you won’t be called upon to articulate the difference between a Shiraz or Chablis or to identify the terroir. Trainee managers will study for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 2 qualification. ‘The level of knowledge is not important,’ says Tom. ‘It is the desire to gain more that impresses us.’

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