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Three Tips to Hire Better Staff

Posted by Dean Asher on 5/6/15 4:39 AM
Topics: college store customer service, retail management, student employees

Interviews are a stressful time for employees and hiring staff alike, and with a new term looming, many bookstores will be going through the hiring process. Thankfully, Doug Fleener at RetailCustomerExperience has some great advice for how to to improve hiring frontline employees. You can read all five of his tips here.

1. Stop requiring applicants to have retail experience

I want three things in a new hire:

  • Someone who is passionate about working with people.
  • Someone that I find interesting.
  • Someone that I will enjoy working with.

None of those qualities are exclusive to retail. Some of the best retail associates and managers I've worked with are former military people, an opera singer, a waitress, a bank teller, a nanny, a teacher and more.

I can teach someone everything they need to know to be successful in the store, but I can't teach them to care about others. I can't teach someone to be engaging and able to hold my interest. That last, to me, is key. I'm going to spend a lot more time with someone in an interview than any customer is going to spend with him/her. If I don't really like a person after that period of time, I doubt the customer will either.

I know there may be some retail segments that require some industry or product knowledge, but I still encourage even those owners/managers to hire the person first and then the experience level.

2. Interview as many people as possible

I think most of us end up mistakenly rejecting some amazing people. For example, I recently interviewed a candidate whose resume was not well written. The email exchange I had with him wasn't much better. But the interview was terrific. He is passionate about helping people. He sets high standards for himself. You know he has a great work ethic. His drive to succeed came through loud and clear in the interview.

I also learned that English is his second language. He went through more to get the opportunity to interview for this job than any of us could imagine. I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't interviewed him.

3. Use group interviews

After reading the above, you may have wondered how you could make the time to interview everyone. Well first, I hope you're lucky enough to get enough applicants to worry about that. If you are, then group interviews are a great way find the best person in the pool of applicants. (This works especially well for seasonal hires.)

Instead of trying to schedule a bunch of one-on-one interviews, do a phone interview with the applicants and if you like them, invite them to a group interview. I know it sounds strange, but it really works. It not only saves you time, you can easily see who stands out among the group.

Make the interview a fun experience. Have people team up. Do some roleplaying and sales/service scenarios. Have the applicants interview each other. Involve your permanent employees. The best part is that people who really don't want to work retail will be unable to hide that fact, aiding you (and them, too) in making your hiring decisions.

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