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8 Rules for Hiring & Retaining Sales Associates

Posted by Jim Roddy on Oct 17, 2018
Jim Roddy
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I'll be brutally honest: I can’t promise the retailers who attend my hiring webinar will achieve perfection when building their team. Even Hall of Fame hiring managers don’t bat 1.000, especially in retail. But if you apply the principles of this proven process, you will exponentially reduce your number of bad hires and make your successful hires even better.

Because I don’t want to spoil the webinar, I’ll only give you a taste of the first three rules today, but so you don’t feel cheated, I'll include some bonus interview questions at the end of this post. So we’re even, okay?

Rule #1: Raise your standards. Successful associates who are fun to be around, work hard, and exhibit high character actually do exist! Hold out to hire them. Typical hiring manager errors are bringing someone on board out of desperation (“We really need someone now!) or hiring based only on the applicant’s prior experience. Your pre-employment interviews should be structured to determine if the candidate is a good match for your company in skills, personality, and character. Don't settle for one or two out of three.

Rule #2: Fire your lousy associates. You need to establish the right culture before hiring new associates. Give underperforming associates a chance to get good, but the timeframe to get above standard should be measured in weeks or months, not quarters or years. No one said firing was a fun task, but if you give an associate adequate support and they fail to meet your standard, you need to cut the cord for the sake of your culture.


Establish a valued brand and a sturdy company culture if you want your new hires and organization to succeed long-term.


Rule #3: Make your website people-focused. Your website has to serve customers, but it also needs to inform and entice prospective candidates. Implement these seven techniques to ensure that your website attracts quality candidates:

  • The homepage should loudly promote your people and your company’s achievements. Your customers will resonate with this as well!
  • Feature photos of smiling employees. What does a proud parent do when you meet them? They show you pictures of their kids. If you’re proud of your associates, show ’em off. 
  • Don’t make candidates jump through hoops to contact someone. There should be zero ambiguity to what positions are open and how a candidate can communicate with you. 
  • Be clear. Eliminate jargon and industry-specific acronyms that could confuse a potential candidate. 
  • Don’t be shy about selling site visitors on why they should work for you. Talk about your friendly work environment, your company stability – whatever makes you stand out among other work cultures.
  • Spend the money to ensure that your site is professional. If you know how to turn on a computer, you can launch a website. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
  • Keep your website up to date. The area I’ve seen most neglected on company websites is the list of current job openings. Open jobs aren’t listed and filled jobs are still being promoted.

Did you notice these first three rules don’t involve hiring itself? You need to establish a valued brand and a sturdy company culture if you want your new hires and your organization to succeed long-term!

5 Tremendous Interview Questions for Associates

The more information you can uncover during your pre-employment interviews and the more skillfully you analyze that data, the better your hiring decisions will be. This can only be accomplished through in-depth interviews that include a heavy dose of behavior-based questions that stimulate an open dialogue. These five questions have served me well over the years:

  1. Can you give me an example of you exceeding your supervisor’s expectations?
  2. Tell me about a time you dealt with an angry or frustrated customer.
  3. Give me an example of a problem you faced on any job you have had, and tell me how you solved it.
  4. Give me an example of a time when you weren’t getting along with a co-worker. How did you resolve that situation?
  5. Tell me about a goal you accomplished at work that you were particularly proud of.

Want more? Check out my free on-demand SellMore! webinar 8 Time-Tested Rules For Hiring & Retaining Associates. My proven process will help you reduce your number of bad hires and make your successful hires even better.

Register Now!

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Topics: Customer Service, Retail Tips & Techniques

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