Retail Hiring: Interview Questions
Recently, HR expert Patricia Frame of Strategies for Human Resources presented a comprehensive workshop on hiring, geared particularly to small retail businesses. The workshop covered all aspects of hiring, from defining the need and type of employee you wish to hire, through the sourcing of candidates, writing the ad, interview techniques, selection criteria, background checks, offers and orientation for success. You may view the entire annotated PowerPoint here.
An area of particular interest to the attendees at the workshop was the types of questions that an employer can ask in an interview in order to assess the qualifications, skills, interest, and attitude of potential employees. It is always important to ask questions that are relevant to the work and culture of your business. For example, if you are open on nights and weekends it is relevant to ask if the candidate is available to work three nights a week and certain hours on a Saturday. That is relevant to your business and the position you are trying to fill. It also helps to ask behavioral-based questions. A behavioral-based question is designed to let you learn about patterns of behavior the person has demonstrated in past work situations as these are the best predictors of future behavior. So you may need to understand how dependable the person is in coming to work on time and staying a full shift. A question such as “Tell me about your work schedule in recent jobs and how you managed your time to get to work on time and put in a full shift, and how much of an issue that was”. You could then follow up with “When I ask your most recent boss about this, will she tell me about the same information or add more examples?”. For candidates just out of school or otherwise just entering the workforce these responses need not be for prior employment – they can refer to how the candidate has handled an issue in volunteer work, school projects, etc.
Ms. Frame gave the attendees at the workshop a few examples of the types of questions that can be asked and are designed to determine particular qualifications of the applicant (some sample questions can be found in this document). She noted that these are examples – you should design your interview questions specifically to determine whether an applicant meets the combination of skills, ability, commitment and attitude that works for the culture of your business.
It is also important to ask each applicant the same set of questions and to design a report to keep their responses straight. If you interview several candidates in a day it is easy to mix up their responses. If you have a simple form that you complete after each interview it will be easier for you to keep them all straight and find the best new employee for your business. A sample form may be found here.
For additional resources specifically for retail and restaurant small businesses, see the SBDC’s Retail and Restaurant Page.