Sunday retail management advice: interviewing prospective employees for your retail business

Interviewing prospective employees is a personal thing in that it is all about you and your business. Get this one thing right and you get plenty of benefits for your business.

The type of people you want for your business can only be determined by you. This is why we say it is personal and why we do not advice a consistent corporate approach across all businesses.

That said, based on our many years working with and helping small business and independent retailers there are some basics to get right before or at the interview:

  1. Make sure prospective candidates are who they say they are. Check photo ID.
  2. Have them bring a Tax File Number – to show they are known to the government.
  3. Have them bring two written references.
  4. Advise them before the interview you may do a police check.
  5. Stalk them on social media to look for possible issues.
  6. Interview two or three candidates. Not too many though as it can take up time when if you vet them right prior to the interview you can have a good short list.

Now, on to the interview. The goal is to encourage conversation as it is from conversation that you can determine if you like the candidate and liking them is key to their future with the business.

Start by asking them what they think of the business and what they would change. The purpose of this is to test to see if they know much about the business and have any interest in it beyond a paycheque.

Ask them why your business. The reality is this question often elicits the answer they think you want rather than the truth. Press them on it.

Ask them about any experience they have that could help them in your business. This is designed to be open ended, encouraging conversation.

Usually, three or four topics in and you should have an idea if they are right for you. If the feeling at this point is they are not right for you, pull the pin on further discussion and than them for their time.

Other topics worth discussing are: how they relax, their dreams for the future, whether they collect anything, what they are passionate about and whether they read magazines. Each of these topics can be open ended – encouraging further conversation.

If you have a candidate you think is right, consider a paid trial of three hours. This is usually useful if you are not sure between two candidates.

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