Hot Topic Interview Questions & Tips

How to Get a Job at Hot Topic

The Hot Topic hiring process involves a number of steps job seekers must complete for employment consideration. Prospective employees officially establish interest in job vacancies by presenting the completed forms for hiring to the applicable store location either in-person or online. After submitting the requested information, applicants often hear back from a hiring manager within a few days. Some candidates wait a couple weeks or longer before receiving calls to schedule job interviews. Job seekers opting to initiate the hiring process in-person sometimes gain an opportunity to speak with a store manager, who might take advantage of the occasion and ask a few introductory questions to preemptively evaluate potential interviewees.

Interview Formats

Managers typically interview candidates individually;however, sometimes applicants pools prove large enough to hold group interviews. Similar to the hiring procedures of many employers in the fashion retail industry, the interview process generally varies in length and format depending on the job title. Applicants interviewing for entry-level sales associate jobs usually meet with a Hot Topic hiring manager one time, often in a group session with other job seekers. Candidates for management positions frequently have to complete two or three rounds of Hot Topic interviews before qualifying for employment. The California-based retail chain normally interviews prospective managers one-on-one or with a panel of interviewers representing the various levels of the Hot Topic management team.

Love of Pop Culture

As a fashion retailer heavily inspired by music and pop culture, Hot Topic hires workers with similar interests. Applicants regularly discuss their favorite bands or musical artists, TV shows, movies, and videogames at Hot Topic interviews to confirm suitability for the job opening.

Hot Topic Interview Questions

Interviewees further verify their fit for Hot Topic jobs by responding to commonly asked questions like, "What is one thing we sell that you hate?" and "We sell a variety of merchandise here. What do you think you would be best at selling?" Hiring managers frequently want to know what potential employees would do in difficult situations and often present hypothetical retail scenarios for interviewees to resolve, as well. Other popular interview questions, such as, "If it was your first day working here and you could pick out anything in the store to wear, what would you choose?", deal with fashion and require applicants to possess a developed sense of style. Hot Topic interview questions, like the entire interview process, also tend to vary according to position.

Additional Considerations for Managerial Applicants

In addition to fielding common questions probing into personal fashion sense and familiarity with the brand, managerial interviewees routinely encounter queries more specific to the job duties and responsibilities of retail management careers. Hot Topic interviewers use questions such as, "Can you add on to sales naturally?" and "How do you handle customer objections?" to make sure prospective managers can perform basic managerial functions like driving sales and ensuring customer satisfaction. "What do you do to motivate yourself and others?" and "How important is product knowledge?" represent additional Hot Topic interview questions popularly asked of managerial candidates.

Hot Topic Sales Associate Interview Video

Interviewer:: Please describe your job title and primary duties.

Hot Topic Sales Associate: Yes, so I was a sales associate, so helping customers when they walked in, seeing what they needed, stocking the shelves when shipment came in. If I closed, I had to kind of clean the store up a little bit, resize the clothes and all the accessories, and also work the cash rap during the day.

Interviewer:: What was the work environment like?

Hot Topic Sales Associate: Very calm, very independent, you weren’t micromanaged by the managers at all. It was very nice because they trusted you, when a customer walked in and you took care of them, they knew they were being taken care of. So it was just very comfortable, and it was a great job to have just because I didn’t feel like … I mean I knew I had a boss, but I didn’t feel like I had a boss when my boss was there. That kinda makes sense.

Interviewer:: What was your favorite part about working there?

Hot Topic Sales Associate: That was probably my favorite part, and then also the flexibility. They understood that you had, because I worked part-time during high school. So they understood that I had other things that I had to do, I did track, and soccer, and basketball. So my schedule was crazy, but they were just very flexible and open to have me work certain shifts on certain days, and it was just an overall great experience because I didn’t have to worry about work ever.

Interviewer:: Please describe the application and interview process.

Hot Topic Sales Associate: Very simple, it was a simple online application. Just basic information like work history, I didn’t have any when I started working there, so it was my first job. And then they took you through a questionnaire about how you handle certain things, like a customer service kind of thing like how would you handle certain situations? It was all multiple choice, it wasn’t long at all. And then at that point they would call you in for an interview after screening through those. And then when you came in for an interview, you interviewed with just one of the managers. It was like 20 minutes, they really got to know me, because they had already screened me through my application. It was more so getting to know me and my certain kind of conversation style, my work style, what I’m comfortable with. More so a conversation than an interview, which I really appreciated. And then I was hired right after my interview, there was no in-between waiting. They were just like, “Okay we’re going to offer you the job, do you accept, yes or no?”

Interviewer:: What questions did the interviewer ask during the job interview?

Hot Topic Sales Associate: They asked how familiar I was with the store, if I had shopped there before, and if so what did I go there for? What was my favorite thing to buy at Hot Topic? They asked me what I was involved in in high school. They asked me why I was interested in the position. They asked me for a copy of my transcripts, just because I was in high school so they wanted to see what my grades were, see if I could handle managing both sports, and school, and a job. It was a while ago, I don’t remember. I think that mostly it.

Interviewer:: What set you apart from other candidates?

Hot Topic Sales Associate: I had a 4.3 GPA and I did three sports, so I guess the balance of it was kind of setting me apart. But I had no customer service experience, I had no work experience at all. So I think it kind of balanced it out simply because I was a good candidate but I had no experience to back it up.

Interviewer:: What other advice would you give to a job seeker looking to gain employment?

Hot Topic Sales Associate: Just be yourself, there’s nothing to be worried about. They’re very open to getting to know you. Don’t put on that candidate façade, just because they really want to know genuine people who are going to take care of other genuine people who walk in the store.

Hot Topic Sales Associate Interview Video

Video Transcript

Interviewer: Please describe your job title and primary duties.
Hot Topic Sales Associate: I was a sales associate there and so pretty much I greeted people when they walked in with the general hi, how are you, and asked if they needed help finding anything, and then worked the cash register and if one of the cash registers was busy, there was two cash registers, and so then I’d open up the second one and just made sure to get people through the line quickly, ask them if they needed help, that kind of thing.

Interviewer: What was the work environment like?
Hot Topic Sales Associate: It was actually really positive. I liked the kind of music that they cater to. When I was there, I was a little bit more. Now they cater to rap and hip-hop and that kind of thing as well as more rock music, but when I was working there, it was more just rock music. This is when we got to play with the stations and pick what we wanted to listen to her. Our manager didn’t care. We just got to pick our different station and [everybody was really nice. We were all really similar so you became friends and we hung out outside of work. We knew each other’s names and that kind of thing.

Interviewer: How would you describe the application and interview process?
Hot Topic Sales Associate: How I found out about it is I had gone back in there a few times. They were like, we’re not hiring, we’re not hiring, but then I became actually friendly with the people who were working in there. They were like, oh yeah, everything is on-line. All you do is you go to their web-site and then you search by whatever state and whatever city is closest to you and it gives you a list for both. They’re actually also associated with Torrid. It’s another clothing line. We didn’t have it at our mall, but if it’s an option, you can also search by those different two clothing stores and those will pop up as well. Then it just has what jobs are available. Then you just fill out the form. You can also go to them. It’s on-line, but then you also go to them and ask for actual physical written form and fill it out and you just hand it to them and then they just call you, interviewed you, give you interview questions. That’s a very open store, so they don’t really care what you wear. They don’t care what you look like. I have plugs. They don’t care because that’s like what they sell, so they actually would like you to look like you fit into the market that you’re trying to cater to.

Interviewer: What questions did the interviewer ask during the job interview?
Hot Topic Sales Associate: They asked you the general, if you had any retail experience. I hadn’t at the time had any retail experience and so that was okay for them because they needed people to work and as long as you could talk like you were well educated and seemed friendly, outgoing, with a smile on your face, then that was pretty much okay. As far as other questions, they asked your availability and if you’re willing to work the dreaded weekend night hours. If you can work those, then they would be willing to hire you really for those specific hours that they needed to fill. At least for those specific hours they needed to fill. During the interview, you had to list your top three favorite bands, which is not something you’d normally be asked during a normal interview. I guess if you’re well educated about their music selection because they also back then sold more CDs, but even just the band T-shirts, you have to be knowledgeable about the product. Any business, you have to be knowledgeable the product that you’re selling. I had a lot of knowledge and did a lot of research about those types of things because that’s what I was interested in. That’s what I guess sets you apart for them.

Interviewer: What should an applicant wear to the interview?
Hot Topic Sales Associate: They want you to dress like the clothes that they have there. Like I said, since when I worked there, their styles changed a little bit. It used to be very goth and now it’s more I guess everyday, but still some goth clothes, so you can just pick and choose from whatever you’re wearing. It’s pretty casual there. There are people that had implants in their arms and all that crazy stuff. They don’t care. As long as you’re really kind and you treat the customers with respect. People who shop there are going to be judgmental because they’re pretty much like your peers.

Interviewer: How were you notified that you received the job?
Hot Topic Sales Associate: They notified me by phone and I would say from the time I filled out the application till the time I was actually hired was a couple of weeks I would say. It depends on how many applications they have to process at the time. If they’re inundated it’s going to take longer, but I think it only took a couple of weeks for them to call me and then from there, that’s when you could start. I think it was the next week that I started. I’d say the whole process was maybe about three, three to four weeks, I’d say around three weeks.

Interviewer: What other advice would you give to a job seeker looking to gain employment?
Hot Topic Sales Associate: Just be yourself I would say. They really pride themselves on catering to the individual so if you’re just yourself and you act knowledgeable and you’re really interested in what kind of products that they offer, then I think you’ll do just fine.

Hot Topic Sales Associate Interview Video

Video Transcript

Interviewer: Please describe your job title and primary duties.
Hot Topic Employee: I was a sales associate at Hot Topic. That entailed being on the cash register, greeting customers, find what they’re looking for, suggesting things that customers may be into, stocking and tidying up the store, opening and closing, things of that nature.

Interviewer: What was the work environment like?
Hot Topic Employee: It was very casual. You could wear pretty much whatever you wanted to work, and the managers were laidback as long as you were on time. They were pretty much cool with whatever.

Interviewer: Please describe a typical day as an employee.
Hot Topic Employee: Typical day, I guess you come in, if you’re opening, make sure the store is tidied up from the night before and open the gate. You would do the display racks, the wall displays, and all that kind of stuff. When the stock arrived, you would unload it, and put out new products, stock up the back room with products you already had out. If you were working the afternoon, you come in, basically just set up on the floor, and if you had a register, stick around the counter. If you weren’t, you’d stock around the counter, tidy up, greet customers, talk to people, stuff like that.

Interviewer: How would you describe the application and interview process?
Hot Topic Employee: I started working at the new store they opened in my hometown, so the application process – because they’re hiring an entire workforce at once – was very quick. I applied, and about two days later, I had an interview. They interviewed with the three store managers and general manager and two assistant managers I interviewed with one after the other, and they ask questions about what kind of music I’m into. They sort of tested me in a way if I knew the products that they offered, if I knew how to up-sell somebody, offer new products to them that they didn’t have.

Interviewer: What questions did the interviewer ask during the job interview?
Hot Topic Employee: They were mostly retail-type questions, but they were very specific to the Hot Topic brand. They wanted to make sure that the people they were hiring knew what they were selling and if they could basically judge a character based on having a short conversation with the customer, sort make assumptions about what that person would like what Hot Topic had to offer, and sell things to them based on that.

Interviewer: What set you apart from other candidates?
Hot Topic Employee: I think having product knowledge was the reason I got the job, because I had been there before, I knew what they had, I knew what type of customers and clientele they were catering to. So, I think that helped.

Interviewer: What other advice would you give to a job seeker looking to gain employment?
Hot Topic Employee: In the retail environment, I guess just be yourself. If you know the product, then you’re more likely to get the job. It doesn’t hurt to know a manager, but once you’re a year or two in, then new hires would be people with previous experience with her, connections and stuff like that, so that would certainly help.


  • Bailey says:

    This store is really all about music so tell them how much you like listening to music and going to concerts. My friend had an interview here and she said they asked what her favorite bands are so be ready for that question!

  • tiara white says:

    i want to work here when i turn 16 in a few months but since it’s hottopic is it ok to dress like a rocker during the interviewz? do they care if you have tattoos?

    • Lisa says:

      No my friend is also 16 and she had a arm tattoo and she said that they really don’t care but as long as you do your job correctly.

  • hannah says:

    @Tiara Its totally fine!! To hot topic interviews, you can wear practically anything, but try to show that you know about fashion. Also, its a bonus if u wear clothing from their store :]

  • rebecca says:

    hey im 15 and i really want to work at this store. I want to apply but I don’t know if i have to get working papers from school?

  • Yareli says:

    do they drug test you ?

  • Chris says:

    I’m a sales associate at Hot Topic, and you definitely have to show knowledge of music and fashion. They don’t care if you have tattoos, no drug test, and yes, you need work permit papers. Good luck, guys!

  • Shay says:

    I’m 15 and a half, is there any way I could possibly get a job there?

  • josiah says:

    what is the minimum age to work at hot topic?

  • Nay says:

    How many questions do they ask?

  • Ashley says:

    Do they care if you have a piercing during the hot topic interview???

  • rachel white says:

    So I can wear any type of clothes as long as it has fashion… So I could wear clothes that I bought from hot topic?? And what other questions do they ask??

    And how many hours can a 15 year old work there??

  • Talisha Paige says:

    You have to be 14 years and older to work there, yes you have to have work permits if your under legal work age. It’s a music store you guys of course you have to have some type of knowledge on music! At the interview, try to tell things you like about music, favorite bands, how music influences you, things like that! I’m fourteen and I applied there last weekend! Goodluck future employers!:)

  • Samantha Michele says:

    I applied for Hot Topic 3 months ago and never received a call. I figured maybe my application got lost so I turned in another one. The employees don’t discriminate anyone because of how they dress, which is why I applied there. I’ve been turned down from many jobs due to having gauges and wearing gothic apparel, but Hot Topic accepts this! You must be (AT THE YOUNGEST) 16 years of age to work there unless you have a workers permit. Hot Topic is accepting of facial piercings, gauges and tattoos and does not drug test. If you do get called for an interview at Hot Topic, it is encouraged that you wear their merchandise, but you still have to look decent.

  • Alice Maxey says:

    I’m thinking of applying here, because I love the merch and love music.

  • Ashley says:

    How do summer jobs work? Would I still need a work permit?

  • Bijou says:

    how flexible are their working hours?? because I want to apply after my summer break when I start college.

  • Harmony Shumway says:

    So I have an interview with Hot Topic in a few days, and I have two lip rings, a nose ring, and a tongue ring. I know that theyre okay with that. But should i take them out during my interview to be “professional?” I’m really not sure how to approach this.

  • laura says:

    I have dahlia piercings and barely got them 3 months or so ago and aren’t fully healed and I really want to apply at hot topic. Will I have to take them during work hours or job interview?????

  • Ruby says:

    The minimum age requirement is 16 with a work permit. You should apply between September and the beginning of October, because they hire during that time period. They are pretty laid back about appearance. You can go to an interview with piercings, tattoos, or any other body modifications.

  • Jennifer Andress says:

    Hello, I’m 18 and looking forward to work at Hot Topic. Does anyone have an idea of how many and what kind of questions they ask during the interview? How long will the interview last? If possible, provide examples. Please and thank you.

  • Dean says:

    I’m a manager at Hot Topic and have done several interviews, so believe me when I say that you do not have to worry about looking “professional”. We tell our applicants all the time to not come in wearing a suit to their interview; it just doesn’t make sense, you know? When it comes to fashion retail, always go in dressed in their merchandise. That’s the first way we can tell if someone’s wanting to seriously work there, so if they’re just looking for what they think will be an “easy” gig. Tattoos and piercings are not a big deal to us, and they might even make you stand out!

    The biggest thing we look for is confidence. You cannot be afraid to talk to people if you want to work for us. Be charismatic, elaborate on your responses when with the interviewer, really engage in the conversation with them. Talk about your interests and motivations, not just what makes you “so much better than the others applicants”.

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