District Manager Interview

Normally when you think of an interview you’re probably thinking of a job interview. However there may be times where you interview someone else, someone high up in an industry position, for information. The information can be about their work experience, a career path for their industry, or many other topics you can probably think of. The value here is that you are asking someone who has taken that road, who can tell you about the challenges and rewards of getting to their position. It’s can help you make a better decision about the career path you yourself might want to take. I decided to interview my district manager at GameStop to see what their work is like.

The Contact

Name: Greg Shaulis
Position/Title: District Manager
Company: GameStop
Industry: Video Game Retail

Questions about the Contact

I wanted to find out how Greg ended up in the vide game retail industry, so I asked how he got started in retail and why he decided to work at GameStop. Greg started out in retail at a shoe store called Just For Feet. He worked there for about ten years, starting as a sales associate and working his way up. Greg is a man who is passionate about his shoes and enjoys having a nice pair of kicks for any occasion. Eventually he moved on to become a Store Manager for Game Crazy, which was an extension of Hollywood Video, a competing video game retailer at the time. He told me it was easy to switch industries because the core principle is the same: selling a product and add-on items that go with it while delivering good customer service. What helped was that he could relate to both products he was selling and that it was fun to sell them.

We sell video games, whats more exciting than that?

I also was interested to find out what the keys to advancement were, if there were any personal characteristics that helped when working in retail, and what kind of benefits schooling had in the industry. Greg said that the most important thing he found is taking ownership of what you do. Being motivated to take it upon yourself and deliver on those opportunities that you have to make your store better. As a manager, when you have your boss come and visit you want to have your store in the best looking condition you can so you can make the most of those visits. He added that one of the best characteristics to have as a manager in retail is to be personable. You want to be able to be relatable and understanding of your customers, as well as being approachable by your employees so they feel comfortable talking with you. One of the hardest, but most important, things to be able to do as a manager is to have those tough conversations with an employee.

It’s easy to give the high fives when everything is going well, but you have to be able to talk to your employees when you see opportunities for them to improve.

You also have to be able to take constructive criticism and see areas where you yourself can improve. When you have thousands of other people who want your job, you’ll want to be able to stand out and say, “Hey, here I am and here’s what I have to offer.” Greg told me how this actually can help with schooling if you decide to wait to go to school after you get the experience. When you’re learning new concepts in school, it can help a lot if you have the experiences to relate them to.

I had other questions about how Greg’s job is changing and what kind of job satisfaction he gets from being a District Manager. Greg told me that his job changes daily with new challenges coming up at a moments notice. Whether it’s a new product, human resource issues, product and loss issues, or finding new employees, he’s got to be ready to change gears and make sure his team is educated and able to execute the goals he’s given. When they do, that’s when he gets the most satisfaction from his job. Knowing that his team is the best and that they are happy doing it. It’s gratifying to know that you can trust your team to perform at or above the bar you set for them. I would like to say I got some good information from Greg about what it’s like to be a District Manager and how to succeed and enjoy at doing so.

Questions about Communications Practices and Writing

Could you please describe the typical kinds of writing you do and tell me a bit about each?

Emails are a huge part of how Greg communicates with us, his team. He keeps it to the business side when it’s giving us information about a new sales initiative, business changes, etc. When it’s to celebrate a victory, such as meeting a goal or excellent customer service experience, it’s a little more relaxed of a message. To communicate to a group of managers with immediate feedback they hold conference calls once a month. Text messaging has also become big as a form of communicating because it’s quick and easy.

What do you find most challenging about your day-to-day writing? What challenges do recent graduates face as they move from “academic writing” to “workplace writing”?

Knowing your audience is very important, It determines how you write your emails. When he’s sending a message from a boss standpoint it’s more formal. When it’s about how well we’re doing the message is at a more personal level. It’s important to be respectful and aware of the topics your communicating about too.

How would you describe the balance between written and oral communication in your workplace?

Oral communication is used a lot more than written communication in Greg’s position. Between him and the managers they call each other a lot because it’s more impactful, there’s more emphasis behind what he’s saying and it’s easier to interpret. Using too much written communication in a District Manager position can sometimes make the information seem diluted. There are a bunch of different stores with different employees so it’s hard to direct a written message with concise information for everybody.

Questions seeking Advice for you

Some final questions I had for Greg were regarding someone like me getting further into the company and climbing the ladder. I asked about if I performed well where I could expect to be in the near future, how the company ladder looks, and what kinds of qualifications he would be looking for in hiring a Store Manager or Assistant Store Manager. Greg gave me some good advice which I can relate to sports. Basically, keep working hard and wait for your number to be called so you can show your skills. At GameStop, and probably other retailers too, it’s about availability of positions. There isn’t really a time frame for getting promoted, it’s more making sure you can do your job well and if a position opens up, stepping up to the plate and showing you can handle it. Patience pays off in this aspect because you can show how dedicated you are to the job and working hard for the company. In that sense, Greg also stated that some other qualifications he would look for in a resume would be experience. Someone who has that manager experience, ability to give coaching, who is accountable. To me that boils down to someone who is dependable, motivated, and personable with their employees. It was good information about how to move up in the company.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

There was a lot for me to take away from my interview with Greg. I have a better understanding about what it takes to be a Store Manager or District Manager and what rewards come with that. I also know more about what a District Managers job consists of and how they manage so many different people. I learned that the retail industry isn’t that different at any place you go, there are similarities such as selling products and add ons. It was also fun to learn that Greg started out at a sales associate like I did at GameStop. Sometimes you can’t imagine these people ever being anything lower than a manager, but of course everyone starts somewhere. Moving forward I’ll know what I have to improve on to move ahead in the company and what kind of challenges I can expect from a bigger role. I’m glad I took the opportunity to have this experience and got to know my district manager better!