Hiring Should Not be Done in a Day

Let’s face it: we’re all pretty lucky. Most of us don’t roll out of bed in the mornings, we positively hop out of the sheets and greet the morn’ with open arms, excited for the sunny stretch of day before us. We don’t have to slog away at a conveyor belt or hunch over a computer for hours on end; rather, we get to spend our days enmeshed in a world we love—whether it’s biking or climbing or running—and share our enthusiasm with our customers. We get to spend every day converting folks into aficionados and fanatics like ourselves.  
The more specialty retailers we meet through the Mann Group, the more we realize we all share that common denominator: passion. Every one of us seems to love our job. Unfortunately, we all seem to share a less constructive trait as well: poor hiring habits.
If we had to agree on our least favorite part of managing a specialty retail store, most of us would concur that it’s hiring. Sometimes it seems like finding that perfect employee isn’t just impractical, it’s impossible. We dread the entire process. We procrastinate. And then we scramble to fill the vacancy. If that sounds like you, don’t worry—you’re certainly not alone. But it doesn’t have to be the case, either.
We’ve compiled a few quick pointers, tips and tricks to turn that cringe-worthy hiring process into an enjoyable one, another task you can infuse with the passion with which you approach the rest of your job.
Take Your Time
Like so many of the best things in life—fine wine, a loving relationship, good bourbon—hiring the best candidate for your business is not something that can be rushed. Unfortunately, more often than not, that’s exactly what we tend to do.
Hiring the best candidate requires forethought and intention, not procrastination and desperation. Most of us tend to begin the hiring process when a vacancy is imminent. Rather than take the time to interview a variety of candidates, we hurriedly hire one of the first people to walk through our door with a job application in hand. In the short term this may seem like the easy option, but in the end it entails a bevy of problems and repercussions that will actually increase your workload (extra hours of training, reversing bad habits, and potentially even the necessity to let this quick hire go—leaving you in the same position as you began). Chances are that if you rush the hiring process, you’re more likely to hire not only the unideal candidate, but the worst candidate.
“We should be disciplined about out hiring process,” says Dan Mann. “Interview multiple people, make the selection from numerous people. Therefore the hiring and selection process happens all the time—not just when we need someone.” The hiring process isn’t just the actual interview; as Dan points out, it begins much, much earlier.
Open Your Eyes to New Folks
Because the hiring process is usually our least-favorite part of the job, it’s easy to put the entire issue into a tightly sealed box and ignore it until necessity strikes. But again, these things take time. You should always have a selection of potential candidates at the ready—and that means more than just accepting resumes.
You never know when you’ll run into your perfect employee. Maybe you’re having dinner and your server is incredible: great customer service with an amiable disposition, the ability to multitask and stay calm under pressure. These are attributes that would apply particularly well to your own industry. Rather than just tipping well (although we certainly suggest you do that, too), hand them a business card and mention that you’d like to speak with them about an opportunity. “You’ve already seen them in action,” Dan points out, so you know what they’re capable of. Not every hopeful will pan out, but the more feelers you put out, the more likely you are to actually reel in a great employee.
Utilize Social Media
Another way to access potential candidates you might not usually have contact with is through your social media accounts. Sure, it’s easy to place a quick plug about a sale or new merchandise, but it’s just as easy to make a few quick posts asking for applicants or mentioning you might be looking for new faces. Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, even your blog or Craigslist are all great venues for casual advertisements. You’ll likely reach fresh audiences on each platform, many of whom you wouldn’t usually reach out to but could have a surprising supply of skill sets. Another bonus? Even if your dream candidate doesn’t see the post, maybe their best friend will—and forward your information to them. Again, the more you increase your candidate pool, the better chance you have of finding that perfect hire!
Refine Your Interview Questions and Style

So you’ve collected a crowd of candidates from a series of avenues, you’ve reviewed and refined their resumes, and it’s time to begin interviews. This is the climax of the entire hiring process—and one most of us botch. Many of us fumble when we get into that interview chair: What questions am I supposed to ask? How long is this interview supposed to last? Do I even know what I’m looking for?

Unfortunately, the answer to that final question is often “no.” Before you sit down with your first candidate, really consider what and who you’re looking for. Do you need a stronger staff for the floor, someone with experience in retail and customer service, or do you need someone with more extensive technical knowledge? What specific traits and skills are particularly applicable to your business and this position?

When you sit down, even if you know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be easy to “lead the witness,” or ask questions that naturally provide the answers for which you’re looking. If you ask someone “Do you think you’re good at customer service?” of course the instinctive answer is “yes.” Instead, ask a question that delves deeper and requires the interviewee to prove themselves as a pertinent candidate. Asking questions that are easily answered with a simple affirmative may make it easy to hire the person before you, but again, it could make your job a lot harder in the end. Ask the kind of inquisitive and acute questions that will actually provide demonstrable answers.
Three Important Aspects of a New Hire
As you’re interviewing your candidates and considering whether or not they’d be a great addition to your team, keep in mind three specific factors:
1.     People Skills
How will this person interact with your customers, and even their fellow employees? Take note of their personality traits: are they curious, outgoing, team players, good communicators? In retail, one of the most important aspects of the job is interacting with other folks—every new hire should be able to do so with expertise and naturalness.
2.     Technical Skills
Take into account the technical skills of the interviewee. Of course, some of these are obvious: if you’re looking to hire a mechanic, for example, he needs to be able to repair bikes. But some of these skills are more nuanced. “Technical skills in the [specialty retail] industry might also be on the sales side,” Dan notes. “There are sales technical skills that are good for retail: the ability to diagnose and solve problems, the ability to work under pressure, the ability to be influencing and negotiating, analysis and problem-solving skills with customers, the ability to manage time well and attention to detail.” Be sure to ask questions that seek out these specific skills in potential candidates.
3.     Ability to Commit
Is this the kind of employee who can make a promise and actually keep it? Are they reliable and dependable? And, perhaps most important of all, are they going to keep this job for a long time? It’s important to asses their commitment to this position in the initial interview because if you don’t, you will likely end up in your current position once again. And as we all know, no one likes to hunt for a new hire.

Leave a comment