The Key to Hiring Retail Stars

As we all know, retail success is highly dependent on the quality of the players on the team.  Average players make an average team, and stars make a winning team.  Understandably, we want all of our hires to be stars.  That means that hiring choices are some of the most important decisions we make for our business. While it may be a bit unrealistic for every single hire to be a star, you can increase your batting average by making hiring decisions that are focused on key personality characteristics.

It’s easy to be tempted into hiring the candidate who has the most outgoing personality, a great resume of experience, and can say all of the “right” things about selling and customer service during the interview.  But the things which separate star players from average players are deeper.  Use the guide below to identify candidates who have the character to be true STARS.

Sensitivity – Candidates with “sensitivity” understand their impact on others and have a certain level of humbleness that allows their interactions with others to be well-received.  Questions to assess sensitivity include…

  • “Tell me about a recent time when you hurt somebody else’s feelings on the job. How did you learn of your impact, and why did it happen?”
  • “Tell me about a recent team that you were part of. What were the team’s results, and what was your specific role in delivering those results?

Tenacity – Candidates with “tenacity” work very hard to achieve their goals and have the ability to persevere through hardships.  They are more likely to have extended time with one or more companies.  These candidates tend to have greater ability to focus on the important issues and filter out the less significant information.  Questions to assess tenacity include…

  • “Tell me about an extremely difficult project you recently had. What was the goal, what was difficult about it, and what did you have to do in order to succeed?”
  • “Tell me about something that you recently failed at. Why did you fail, and what actions did you take after failing?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you were a leader during a very complex situation. What did you do to cut through the clutter of huge amounts of information and focus your team to achieve success?”

Authenticity – Candidates with “authenticity” come across as genuine and have tangible substance behind their statements.  Authenticity is a critical component because it is the foundation of trust.  People will not accept advice or direction (and therefore will not buy) from others in whom they have little trust.  Authenticity is best gauged by good follow up questions which cut through discrepancies and statements without substance, such as…

  • “You said, ‘xxx.’ Give me some specific examples that reinforce your point.”
  • “Earlier, you said ‘xxx,’ but just now you said, ‘yyy.’ Explain to me how those situations are different.”
  • “You said you believe, ‘xxx.’ What are some specific observations you have had which make you believe that?”

Responsibility – Candidates with “responsibility” have a proven track record of being dependable and conscientious, and they take true ownership over their jobs and their teams.  Responsible people are those you can count on to do the right thing and put in their best effort even when you are not watching.  Responsible people also own up to the mistakes they make and refrain from deflecting blame.  Questions to assess responsibility include…

  • “Give me your definition of doing a good job.”
  • “Tell me about a time when your supervisor put you in charge of an important project. What steps did you take, and what were the results?”
  • “Tell me about a significant recent mistake you made and what you learned from it.”

Service Desire – Candidates with strong “service desire” get enjoyment and satisfaction out of doing good things for others.  They go out of their way to be helpful to others, and they see other people as the primary purpose of their role.  Questions to assess service desire include…

  • “Tell me about a recent time when you had a lot of work to do and customers were keeping you from doing that work.”
  • “Tell me about a time when another team member was struggling on the job and how it affected you.”
  • “Tell me about a recent customer who had a major problem and how you tried to solve it.”




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