Retail Recruitment: 7 Hiring Tips For Store Owners


Updated: December 9, 2022

a red sign reading 'for hire'

The world of retail is constantly evolving. Especially right now. Brick and mortar stores are being forced to compete with eCommerce and other retail avenues. And many argue that the fate of storefront retail is dying. The numbers, however, disagree. In the United States, according to 2017 Department of Labor statistics,  there were 4.6 million retail salespeople and 3.4 million cashiers. That accounted for nearly 6% of the entire American labor force. That’s as many people as live in New York City.

But a wonderfully low unemployment rate and higher competitive wages make retail hiring a difficult task. And they’re important positions for any retail business: salespeople and cashiers are the face of your store. You need ambitious, trustworthy, and personable associates and managers. So how can you best find this? Let’s examine a handful of tips on the best practices for retail recruitment.

1. How To Recruit For Retail Stores: Improve Your Website

Your website should be easy to navigate in general, but this includes your career opportunities section. Place it in the main navigation bar on your homepage.

  • Make it easy to contact your H.R. and apply. You don’t need to weed out too many applicants at this point. Just like you don’t want people abandoning an eCommerce cart because the checkout is too complicated, you also don’t want a potential star employee to slip away because of a burdensome initial application.
  • List all open positions clearly. Add descriptions if you want to get more detailed (you can also save that for the listings mentioned in the next section).
  • Spruce up your contact pages with photos of a good work environment and happy employees. Highlight the day-to-day at your retail store.
  • Stay away from potentially intimidating corporate lingo and obscure acronyms.
  • Always keep the website updated and operating smoothly. A great candidate will be easily dissuaded from applying if they notice poor organization and management off the bat.

2. Retail Recruiting With Omnichannel Hiring Process

It’s also important to reach potential employees through different avenues. Your website is most likely not enough for retail recruitment.

  • These range from free classified posts on sites like Craigslist to corporate headhunters if you’re looking to fill a more senior role.
  • On each of these, include detailed job descriptions. Just like a proper email marketing campaign, you want to segment your audience appropriately. While you never want to miss or deter a great candidate, you also can’t sift through thousands of applications. You expect a detailed resumé, they deserve a detailed explanation of the job. Check out the helpful video below from Indeed.

Try to reach possible future employees through social media as well. LinkedIn has had proven success as a job forum. Twitter and Facebook are much more casual but can be helpful as well. Instagram is ideal for reaching a younger audience for more creative roles.

Like your website, make sure all of these are also optimized for mobile. More and more of life is being conducted through phones so it’s important to adjust accordingly.

Look at comparable job listings for inspiration, just find a way to make yours stand out.

Think like a job seeker yourself. What would you be looking for out of a job?

3. Retail Recruiter Interviews: Thoughtfully Prepare Ahead of Time

Most of us dread interviewing for a new position. And surely we all remember our first one with anxious nostalgia. But conducting the interview is difficult as well! Especially if you’re new to it. It’s important to come across as organized and professional.

  • Consult trusted colleagues for advice and potentially to interview each candidate as well. Some companies take a panel approach while others will host multiple individual interviews.
  • Define for yourself exactly what you’re looking for. Writing the detailed job description mentioned above should help with this part. The more you can narrow your focus, the more efficient and easy the interview will be.
  • Have a narrow range of pay and benefits in mind. Determine if any part of the pay structure will be commission-based.
  • Come up with specific traits, both technical and non-technical, that you’re hoping to find in a candidate.
  • Always go back to the 3 Rs of job interviews: responsibility, requirements, and rewards.

4. Best Retail Recruitment Practices: Interview Naturally

We cover more details on how to conduct a retail recruitment interview on a separate blog, but let’s look at a few basic concepts.

  • Keep it conversational and natural. Prepare a rough outline or structure to it, but don’t be afraid to let it flow in an organic direction. You’re trying to get to know the person, after all.
  • Don’t rush through anything. Give yourself time to consider their communication style, body language, and character.
  • Many people looking for positions in retail are coming from backgrounds in various industries. Use this as a conversation starter. Get to know the candidates’ interests and passions aside from their work history.
  • For retailers, it’s important to walk the floor with all candidates. Introduce them to other associates and managers and see how they respond and interact. Storefront retail positions require great people skills and a bright demeanor.
  • Depending on the retail niche, it might be advantageous to try a few role-playing scenarios that go beyond the “What would you do in this situation?” kind of questions.
an employer performs a retail recruitment interview with a candidate while sitting on sofa chairs

5. Conduct a Retail Interview by Asking the Right Questions

You’ve already gotten their CV or resumé that highlights their work background and technical skills. Now it’s time to focus on behavioral and attitude-type questions. Retail is so much face-to-face interaction. And one bad interaction with a customer could mean simply losing a single sale, or it could mean losing a lifelong client. Your business can’t afford this. As they say, the greatest predictor of future behavior is someone’s past. Look for patterns and trends throughout the answers.

  • Don’t ask theoretical questions. Ask about real experiences they’ve had and how they responded.
  • Stay away from close-ended questions too. These make it easy to give short answers. Keeping questions open-ended lets the candidate take it whichever direction they choose. Remember, they’re supposed to be one doing the majority of the speaking, not you.
  • Ask past-tense questions about specific workplace situations. This is particularly important for retail positions. Teamwork and customer service are two absolute essentials from any employee.
  • Retail positions now require some technical skills, especially for management roles. Make sure they are fluent in any applicable software and that they are comfortable with a retail point of sale.
  • Slight challenges or critiques are ok as long as you’re kind about it. This can give you an idea of they would respond to criticism, a stressful situation, or customer complaints down the road.
  • Always allow time for them to ask you questions. Good questions come from thoughtful people.

6. Brand Your Business As an Employer

As a retailer, you want to hire the best candidates. But the best candidates also want to work for the best employer. It’s just as important to brand your business and vision during the retail recruitment interview process as it is while doing your marketing.

  • Be upfront and honest about day-to-day operations and expectations. Surprising someone a few weeks into a job will never work out in the long term.
  • Be careful not to market perks as bandages for a grueling job. More and more companies are trying to mimic Google with “campus” type benefits. This can easily come across as desperate or disingenuous.
  • Highlight real benefits if they’re great. Don’t hide them. 
  • Get staff testimonials together, either recorded or in person. Most people need to socialize while at work so they care about the team before starting a role. Make the environment friendly and welcoming.
  • Consider having trusted staff post advertisements for the role on social media. It recognizes their place in the company and demonstrates respect.
  • It’s also a great opportunity to get feedback from existing staff. Ask them what they love and what bothers them about the retail store. It will allow you to paint a better picture for interviewing candidates, while also giving you important feedback on things that could be improved.

7. Design A Retail Recruitment Protocol for Follow-Ups

Hiring for retail positions is usually fast-paced and urgent. You might have 10 candidates in one day. Or it could be seasonal work, making it even more challenging. In fact, half a million temporary workers are hired during the holiday season. Having a measured and consistent retail recruitment formula is important.

  • Take your time with making a decision, but respond as soon as you have. You never want to rush this process, of course, However, there is no point in dragging it out.
  • Consider outside opinions and all relevant factors, but also trust your gut. Your gut got your retail store this far. Keep listening to it.
  • Have a scripted offer or decline message that can be quickly sent out to each candidate.
  • Install protocol for onboarding any new employees so that they can start training quickly.

See Related: How to Hire for the Holidays: 9 Seasonal Hiring Tips for SMBs

Tips for Retail Hiring and More Advice from KORONA

The hiring process is an exciting opportunity to be proud of your retail business and to bring in a new team member that will make it even better. Subscribe to our blog for more retail advice. And check out the link below if you’re interested in a new POS system. It can’t do your hiring for you, but KORONA can make your new employees’ first few weeks a little easier with the intuitive layout and navigable interface. Give it a try!

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About the Author

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Michael Chalberg

Michael has long focused his writing on the world of retail and small businesses. He''s been a part of the KORONA POS team since 2018 and loves helping entrepreneurs find ways to adapt and succeed. In his spare time, you'll likely find him hiking somewhere in the Southwest.

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