Hot Topic Reviews

Updated August 24, 2014
Updated August 24, 2014
255 Reviews

3.4
255 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Hot Topic CEO & Director Lisa Harper
Lisa Harper
116 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Good employee discount, Somewhat flexible with schedule changes, dress code (in 45 reviews)

  • Freedom to be yourself, no dress code, decent music (at times) (in 18 reviews)


Cons
  • Upper management really has no clue what it is like day to day in an actual store (in 20 reviews)

  • Lack of hours for sales associates (in 17 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Have fun working retail! (really)

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Part Time Assistant Manager
    Current Employee - Part Time Assistant Manager

    I have been working at Hot Topic part-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Dedicated employees and management make for a great team to work with. "Open door policy" helps communication with all positions. Most considerate higher-ups I have ever worked with have been at Hot Topic. You can get excited about cool products, awesome customers (usually), great place to start out working with.

    Cons

    Low start pay for management promotions unless hired outside company.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    A few instances where favoritism came into play, but work ethic almost always will guarantee your success within the company!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Tolerable Retail Experience!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Hot Topic Sales Associate
    Former Employee - Hot Topic Sales Associate

    I worked at Hot Topic part-time for more than a year

    Pros

    You can get the security of any corporate retailer without the usual soul-draining pressure. I certainly enjoyed that sales weren't commision-based, so we weren't pressured to hound customers. A major allure for many is the liberal dresscode and relatively laid-back environment. It made for an excellent first work experience.

    Cons

    Obviously not a total escape from the retail experience. Busy seasons can lead to some very late-night cleaning and petty, inner-circle politics are prevalent, as in most work environments.

  3.  

    Terrible place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Sales Associate  in  Sacramento, CA
    Former Employee - Sales Associate in Sacramento, CA

    I worked at Hot Topic part-time for more than a year

    Pros

    No dress code
    40% discount
    Choice of music

    Cons

    Very few hours
    Minimum wage
    No chances to move up

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop hiring so many people when there are already not enough hours to go around!

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5.  

    That fake Dimond that rapidly lost its sparkle!

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Hot Topic

    Pros

    Fantastic working environment, fun , fabulous music while you work. Wide range of interesting customers. Great employee discount. Bonuses if you make great sales.

    Cons

    Now I will start off with saying I am not afraid of hard work and I'm the kind of employee who always goes above and beyond what is expected of me. And when I was hired on at Hot Topic knew I would be taking a pay cut but never expected what I got. Barley above minimum wage no respect for the work that is done badgering emails to get stuff done or hit numbers when your not in control of the traffic in a mall and can't be held responsible for people not coming into a store to shop. Upper management badgers the Gm's over hours and payroll but yet allows them to hires excessively when mist stores can run perfectly fine with a general manager, assistant manager, and 2 shift " key " mangers. And that way they would all get hours and pay in order to survive in life and take care if responsibilities. But no your under payed nit given the hours or opportunities to shine. You work 5 hours or more with no break or time to even use the restroom cause your the only person in the store. And lots of time working off the clock for promo changes ect cause you don't have the time to get it done before the badgering email start to come in. Or they promote moron general managers that don't do their job but yet takes credit for other lower managers work. You don't want to work for this company unless you live with mommy and daddy or have a huge trust fund cause you won't get a decent pay check to survive working for this company. I still work here but only cause I am one of the many that are covered in tattoos and jobs are more difficult to find when your covered in tattoos. But am seeking employment opportunities else where , where my hard working honest go above the "call of duty" work ethic is appreciated with better pay and hours and communication and positive reinforcements.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Appreciate your management team better. With better pay and hour. More positive communication. Less over hiring. Less badgering email. If there is a promo change make sure you actually provide your store with everything that is needed before you badger them about not completing the task at hand. Make sure your general mangers are honest and training other manager properly and following all sop's and company policies and make sure the dm's listen to all of the management team. You would loose less of the fantastic people who are honest and hard working with good work ethics, and if you did that you would keep less of the the people who lie cheat and steal from the company.

  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    I love my job!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Store Manager
    Current Employee - Store Manager

    I have been working at Hot Topic full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Those who have had unpleasant experiences working for Hot Topic are most likely ones searching for a decent paycheck with minimal effort. Sorry, but that's not how it works. This is a great company to work for, honestly.

    Never gets too stressful.

    Dress code is very casual.

    Bonus program is great (Bonus dollar amounts increase based on how much money your store makes. So again, if you are not a hard worker you will not be able to utilize this program).

    Great communication with upper management.

    Paid vacation time & holidays.

    Lots of contests where stores compete for prizes. This always keeps things fun and helps keep the team motivated.

    Great discounts for employees.

    Great promotions/offers for customers.

    Amazing customer service focus! So few companies value and appreciate their customers.

    Cons

    Heavy shipment can be overwhelming, but it's not unbearable.

    Large amounts of kids and mall rats hanging out in the store.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue hiring all-star candidates that will work hard and continue to help the company grow and be more successful.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 7 people found this helpful  

    Great to start, awful to stay.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Store Manager
    Current Employee - Store Manager

    I have been working at Hot Topic full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    I have been with HT off and on for almost a decade now. Generally, any store in this company is a great place to start out in retail. Employees are often very close, and the environment is friendlier than most. The lack of a formal dress code (other than being encouraged to wear what the company is selling) and encouragement to be yourself and voice your interests makes for a very open and intimate work experience. This absolutely was an excellent place to learn core values and skills in retail back in the day. I managed to go from a kid with no skill whatsoever at age 16 and end up in lower management by the time I was 18 and graduated from high school (but I am the exception, not the rule... more on that in the cons section).
    The employee discount is pretty top, too. 40% for everything except electronics, 20% for electronics and music. And generally speaking, your discount stacks with whatever sales are going on in the store. There's also the ability to order anything out of the warehouse and have it sent to the store, so you pretty much have access to whatever the company is selling even if your store doesn't receive it in regular shipment.
    Customers tend to be a lot of fun, especially when your interests sync up. Working in a store that specializes in music and pop culture is the perfect place for any teen or 20-something. HT is pretty decent at keeping their merchandise close to the pulse of what's "in," thanks to corporate buyers taking suggestion from store teams (which is not something you see very often). Truly, this company relies on its employees to stay current and up to date on what people are into.
    Management benefits are pretty standard, but it is nice that you are eligible for benefits once you hit the position of PTASM. Dental, medical, visual, and even pet insurance are included in the package. HT also has a decent 401K plan as well as the ability to set up a FSA for medical expenses.

    Cons

    Pay is meager at best. Sales associates start at minimum wage, and pay increases for each level of management are not great at all. Keyholders make $1-$1.50 over minimum, PTASM gets $1-2 more than a KH, FTASM gets an additional $2-3 above PTASM. Store Managers are paid based on their store's annual sales volume, but generally speaking, most HT stores don't make money hand-over-fist.
    Hours are AWFUL for Sales Associates currently. Unless you are in a high-mid or high-volume store, expect to get maybe 1-2 shifts per week. And HT currently has a new scheduling initiative that reduces SA shifts to 3.5 hours each so that they aren't required to take a break. Keyholders can expect approximately 15 hours per week, but the increase in responsibility versus the low increase in pay definitely makes it feel like it's not worth it. PTASMs average maybe 25 hours a week, and FTASMs and Store Managers get 40 hours a week. HOWEVER, due to extreme payroll cuts across the board for the last 3 years, sometimes hours end up being significantly less. I personally have had to cut my own time in the past in order to ensure that everyone on staff could have at least ONE shift per week.
    The work/life balance for management is very shaky. During the first half of the year, things are generally pretty lax. However, July through December are paced at breakneck speeds and the vast majority of those 6 months are vacation "blackout," meaning that you cannot request time off. This is pretty normal during Back-to-School and Holiday in retail, but HT has the added bonus of being a Halloween destination, which means that late September and all of October are also included in blackout. Store Managers also often have to always have their phones on them whenever they aren't working in case their store teams have questions, as the "trickle-down" of information from HQ and upper management ranges from "decent" to "nonexistant" depending on who your DM/RD is for your area. Constant realignments of districts and regions also means that you will have a new boss almost every 6-12 months, which means that you have to adjust nearly the ENTIRETY of operations on a day to day basis to meet the new boss's requirements.
    Hiring is also very difficult. HT hires seasonals during the early summer and around October/November for the holidays. These are pretty much the ONLY times you will be able to get into HT as a seasonal associate. Outside of peak times, most store teams consist of 4 managers and 2-5 sales associates. And because the company wants us to "hire our customers," you don't tend to see a lot of variety on the staff (read: mostly white teenagers with tattoos and piercings, but there are of course exceptions.) Filling management positions is also incredibly difficult, as the rate of pay versus the "company standards" don't really meet up with most people with managerial experience's expectations. It is not uncommon for management positions to remain open for months at a time, which puts considerable strain on those who are still working. Turnover is also at an all-time high, as even management members tend to have to take on second or even third jobs in order to have a livable amount of income.
    The lack of hours makes training internal candidates for promotion very difficult to impossible, so the ability to move up in the company has GREATLY reduced in the last several years. Even new hires are given next to no time to learn the ropes, so it is not uncommon to walk into a store that is staffed by people that have no clue what they are doing on a register, where things are in the store, or how to handle certain situations that arise in retail.
    HQ is run very haphazardly. Promotions change at the drop of a dime, floor moves generally are undergoing changes and aren't released until a day or two prior to their due date (and often before stores have the merchandise to support them), and they are convinced that certain initiatives work when they do not (such as the now commonplace practice of handing out coupons at one time only for them to be redeemed MONTHS later). HQ also does a terribly inefficient job of communicating information down to the store level, which is passed on through Regional Directors (who are not regulated at all) and District Managers (who have to cope with their RD's personality quirks while still trying to maintain their INSANE number of stores, which are often times spread across state lines). Communication and execution are major areas of improvement.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    SHOW YOUR EMPLOYEES THAT YOU CARE AND APPRECIATE THEM. And I'm not talking about making a Facebook group that is management-only so that you can pretend that your employees are happy in their jobs. Provide incentive increases for raises that matter, as opposed to 10 cent raises for a year's worth of work. Work on communication, and for the love of all that is holy and good, FIGURE OUT A PAYROLL SYSTEM THAT IS FAIR TO STORE TEAMS!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Assistant manager

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Hot Topic

    Pros

    Hours and Pay were great!!

    Cons

    Store changes and new management

  9.  

    A creative place to work.

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Hot Topic

    Pros

    Showing off your true personality and beng n a judgement free environment. The musc beng played s really awesome as well.

    Cons

    There wasn't very many cons n working at Hot Topic, this was a very enjoyable place to work all over.

  10.  

    Home away from home

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Sales Associate  in  Sterling, VA
    Current Employee - Sales Associate in Sterling, VA

    I have been working at Hot Topic part-time for less than a year

    Pros

    I work with a great team. My coworkers and management are really friendly and engaging. The dress code is amazing and the music is awesome! I love working at Hot Topic. My manager is one of my best friends.

    Cons

    The pay is not good. I do not mind so much, but I could really use more spending money.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay the employees better.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11.  

    ok place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Hot Topic full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Not very many pros other than the pay scale is a little above average

    Cons

    Poor management, Room to grow but once you get as far as you can, its almost impossible to move forward.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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