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Retail Hiring Best Practices Start with Asking the Right Questions

Posted by Emily Fanning on Apr 24, 2017
Emily Fanning

Retail today is über competitive, building a strong team that can sell strategically and use all the tools at hand is essential; conscious staffing is an integral factor to the bottom line of a successful retail company. Understanding the perspective of your candidates (whether full or part-time) can help you dial in the right personality and uncover someone who will be able to engage your customers. We talked to some experts and compiled these 6 questions that will help kick-start your interviews and take your retail management skills up a notch.Think about your own experiences walking into a store. How much does the assistance you receive affect how much you spend? How often does it factor in whether or not you will return? We surveyed 400 consumers to learn about their shopping preferences in 2017 and found that the knowledge and friendliness of store employees ranked top on their list of what matters to them when shopping in a clothing store, second only to having the right product and size in stock. Proper and accurate inventory management continues to be a critical need in running a successful retail enterprise.

Hiring and training employees is one of the best investments you can make. And getting answers about a candidate’s availability, past experience, and general personality strengths and weaknesses, doesn’t always cut it when putting together a top notch team that is going to drives sales and create an environment that delights customers. While those should not be discounted, charisma, strong customer service skills, and a personal connection to and/or interest in the product are crucial traits of strong sales associates.

For this two-part series, we spoke with an 11-store retail enterprise with over 200 seasonal employees to hear what they look for when narrowing down their pool of candidates. After 20 years in business, they’ve grown to know that it’s about much more than how many hours a week a candidate is available and how you connect with them on a personality level. It’s about how they will connect with your customers. Developing a list of strategic hiring questions for evaluating your retail sales candidates is one of the key retail hiring best practices.

Here are six essential interview questions you should be asking applicants:

1. What is your connection to our store?
2. What have you enjoyed about your experiences when shopping at our store?
3. What is good customer service?
4. What is more important—a good product or friendly service?
5. If you disagreed with another employee, how would you handle it? What if it was a manager?
6. Why retail?

Says Samantha Salamack, Traveling Manager at In The Pink Stores, Inc. “The goal is to have them do as much of the talking as possible. It’s their show to take away! Candidates that run with that are usually the best sellers.” If you're hiring a store manager, we have some tips on that as well. Good luck, choose wisely, the extra effort is worth both time and money!

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Topics: Customer Service, Retail Tips & Techniques

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