For trendy stores like Gap and H&M it is critical that you project them image that they are looking for. Wear at least one piece of their clothes and style your makeup hair in a real-world version of what you see in their ads.
Oh and don't giggle when Gap says they have a position called 'denim specialist'...that cost me a job at the Gap many moons ago.
Especially with the holidays coming up, retailers will be doing a lot of hiring. Even if they only want you part time or seasonal, take the job and wow them with how good you are. Who knows...a full time position might open up and you will be on the top of their go-to list.
Usually, you have to apply online, but it depends on where you are and which store you're applying to. I do agree that you should dress the part, but it's not really what they look for when they interview you.
I think a lot of the posts are pretty much right on. I'd dress to impress in clothing that they carry(or clothing that fits the style of clothing they carry obviously if I wanted to work at hot topic I don't want to go in wearing A&F you get the idea) and go in person to the stores and talk to the manager and apply in person. Since Spfstar said H&M hires online you can apply online. Bring copies resume if you have one it will help make filling out the application a lot easier and you can also attach it to your application. If its your first job no biggie on not having a resume but think about a few people you'd like to put down as references ahead of time and make sure you know their phone numbers. At least in my experience with retail a lot of it depends on making a good first impression with the manager.
LMAO PropaFly I probably would have done the same thing.
Just an FYI, H&M doesn't accept in person resumes, they do all their hiring online. For most other places, go in person, during the day on a weekday because it's not busy and the managers are there. Look presentable, ask to speak to a manager and hand them your resume. Always be prepared for an on the spot interview. Once i went to the mall with 40 resumes, first store i went into gave me an interview right there, 10 mins later, they hired me! So you never know, always be prepared. To increase your chances of them noticing you, go when it's NOT busy, like i said, during a weekday because they're not as busy and will more likely remember you/be willing to talk to you
Be enthusiastic on your CV if you are sending it online. If in store then be fashionably dressed. If your lucky and get called for an interview DONT be late. Retail stores take time keeping very seriously. You might want to include that your are punctual on your CV. I work in Zara and I followed all those steps. Good Luck!