Hiring retail associates is a challenge for even the most seasoned store manager or human resources representative. In fact, finding a candidate that can meet your company’s individual scheduling needs is complicated enough, without taking into account other necessary factors such as the candidate’s professional demeanor or work history. All too often in retail hiring managers resort to hiring the first person that comes along based on their need to fill the role, rather than holding out for a more qualified candidate.
Now this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hire students or part-time workers with other obligations. In actuality, the nontraditional schedule of most retail positions make them the perfect fit for the nontraditional worker — many of whom would be hard-pressed to find another position so well-suited to their scheduling needs.
Throughout the hiring process you’ll want to be able to weed out potential candidates for indications that their performance might not be up to par. Bringing the wrong person on board can lower your team’s morale and negatively impact your customers’ perception of your company, so keep an eye out for the following signs that the candidate you’re interviewing may not be the best fit for your retail team.
Not Familiar With Your Company’s Products:
It’s a given that someone interviewing for a customer-facing retail position can’t be an expert on every single product in your store, but a candidate who is worth pursuing will do enough research to have at least a basic understanding of what you do at your store. If your interviewee flails when asked what they know about your company, it shows that they don’t have the time or inclination to learn about your brand. You don’t want someone who doesn’t care about your company describing your products to customers, so take a hard pass on the uninformed candidate.
Unable to maintain conversation:
The ability to make conversation with customers is pivotal to a retail associate’s ability to determine how to meet those customers’ needs. Obviously, not every retail associate you hire is going to be an extrovert, but they do need to be able to effectively communicate with customers and sell your products. Everyone is nervous during interviews, but if a candidate is unable to put ideas and concepts into words during the interviewing process it could be a warning sign that they don’t have the communication skills to provide a satisfactory customer experience.
Provides Unreliable References:
It’s a big, fat red flag if your potential hire’s references seem hesitant to disclose information about the time they worked together. The best way to expose a false reference is by delving into specifics, so ask everyone on their reference list a series of targeted questions to ensure that you’re hiring an honest person for your retail team. If you have trouble getting your candidate’s references to confirm the dates and duties listed on their resume, then it’s probably time to keep looking for someone with a list of references that’s willing to back up the claims they make about themselves.
Ramshackle Appearance/Poor Hygiene:
Your company’s retail associates are the front-facing aspect of your operation and the human component of your brand. Remember that people don’t get any cleaner once you hire them. An interviewee with signs of poor hygiene will quickly become an even less clean employee who is giving potential customers a memorably unpleasant impression of your company. Even if you need to fill a position straight away, ask yourself if you really want to have a candidate with a ramshackle appearance out on your sales floor representing your brand?
Potential Coworkers Aren’t On Board:
One of the most important aspects of any interview is seeing how your potential hire interacts with other associates on your team. Get a feel for your candidate’s social competency by taking them out on the sales floor and introduce them to the staff members they will be working with if chosen for the position. Make sure to check back with your team post-interview to gage their reaction on the candidate. How the candidate jives with the rest of the team, especially their floor manager, will give you a good idea of how they will interact with one another on the sales floor.
You’ll save on the time and resources by thoroughly checking your candidate’s references and keeping an eye out for the red flags that may indicate that your potential hire is incompatible with the rest of your team. Invest a little extra effort in your hiring process to find a qualified and compatible addition to your retail sales team!
Final Word on Hiring Retail Associates:
With the Holiday Season only 72 days away, and the most challenging year the Retail Industry has experienced since the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis, it is ever more important to create lasting In-Store Experiences for your customers. Your Brick-and-Mortar stores are the front-lines of your business, and your employees the face of your organization. By ensuring that even your seasonal employees are up to your organization’s standards, you can rest assured that your organization’s vision is being reflected through the words and actions of your staff, and that you are able to enter the Season armed with the right employees.