During our April 29, Webinar, Karen Barry of The Friedman Group talked about interviewing and hiring retail salespeople and how most companies get it wrong.  

 Also, join us for our next webinar in the series titled:

“Can I Help You? Are you Finding Everything Alright?”, and other Retail Tragedies.

You can sign up this one here. 

The number one constraint in retail is recruiting, hiring and training salespeople in a short period of time. 

So how do you optimize your interviewing and hiring process? 

In order to be successful in finding great people, you have to start by asking yourself ,on a really deeper level, what the traits are that you are genuinely looking for in salespeople..Of course, it is not a one size fits all process, but there are traits that all high performance retail salespeople possess, regardless of brand and demographic. These include:

  • Competitiveness and high performance, 
  • Outgoing warm personality, 
  • Ability to handle the physical and mental aspects of the job, 
  • Willingness to work retail hours, 
  • Ability to handle the variable nature and oftentimes lower hourly rate of compensation.

How do you attract and evaluate a pool of candidates that have those skills and the specific ones you are looking for that match your company culture?

First, realize it’s important to attract as many applicants as possible, not narrow the number of people who apply for the job right away, so that you can increase your ability to choose.  

Start off by being prepared with a thorough, detailed job responsibility checklist of what your sales staff does on a daily basis. This can be used as a sales hiring tool because it helps you keep account of what you are hiring for. It also helps you create questions that will immediately weed out unqualified applicants.

Require a completed application regardless of if they submitted a resume.  At this stage, include the legal requirements of hiring including providing your EEO statement and sexual harassment policy.

Provide a welcome letter, a one pager answering the most common questions applicants will have. It’s a great timesaver and it gives you a sense of their comprehension. This letter should include information on compensation, benefits, a brief list of job responsibilities and what to expect in the interviewing/hiring process. Abide by all legal guidelines here. This applies to phone conversations as well. And make sure all interviewers understand and practice these legal guidelines.

After you’ve weeded out the unqualified applicants, you are ready to move on to the first interview stage where you continue the process of disqualifying applicants.

First interviews should be short and should involve input from the direct supervisor because they have to live with the choice, so you need their buy-in.

The purpose of the second interview is to qualify the applicants, by making a good match with your store, staff and culture. This should take you an hour. This stage is about expectation, not discovery. Here’s where they learn the truth about what life will be like on the job, so there are no surprises.  You ask them experiential based questions here.  In addition, here are 5 good questions to make them think:

  1. Do you make mistakes? How honest and transparent are they? (Do they answer without hesitation?)
  2. Are you interested in money or just doing a job well? (Need to know they’re going to go for it.)
  3. What do you want to be when you grow up? (A fresh way to ask classic question.)
  4. What do you think determines a person’s progress (ie., performance not time should send someone up the ladder, are they a go-getter vs show upper?)
  5. What isn’t on this application that you would like me to know that will help me make my decision? (looking for difference between them and another candidate-go off script and find out who they really are). you make mistakes? How honest and transparent are they? Answer without hesitation?

Here is also the time to test them on job related math, reading writing and computer skills to determine whether we can teach them and also to make sure they don’t freak out when you ask them to calculate a basic tax percentage or other basic skill used a lot on the job.

Think you’re done??  Not quite!!! Your job doesn’t end after the last interview.  Common mistakes to avoid are:

  • Not checking references.
  • Ignoring the “gut and twinkle” factor, better known as your instincts, where either they look great on paper but something just feels wrong to you, or their resume isn’t great but you feel they have something special that your customers are also going to feel.
  • Avoid homogeneity and be open to different styles, backgrounds and personalities that may be inclusive of your customers. Balance this with the ability to mesh with your team.
  • Don’t rule out people you consider to be overqualified, especially in current times, when folks are likely considering major life changes.

Retailers are champions of attrition and finding staff replacements after someone quits, not a moment sooner! But the key is to keep your hiring funnel full all the time with potential candidates by committing to bringing a specific number of candidates in per week/month for first interviews.  Keep the recruitment machine alive regardless of current need. Because constantly looking and talking to people is an essential part of any staffing system. And you are less likely to be held hostage by poor performers!

So if you are like most retailers you don’t have a waiting list of perfect applicants?  

Don’t miss out on our next webinar in this series titled:  

“Can I Help You? Are you Finding Everything Alright?” and other Retail Tragedies.

Save your seat here.