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. Brick and mortar stores are 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 alone, there are 21 million people employed in retail trades. Over 6 million of those employees are brick and mortar salespeople and cashiers.

But a wonderfully low unemployment rate and higher competitive wages make retail hiring difficult. Nonetheless, these positions are super important 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 Retail Employees: Improve Your Website

Your website should generally be easy to navigate. 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 retail 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 want to fill a more senior role.
  • On each of these, include detailed job descriptions. 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 can’t sift through thousands of applications. You expect a detailed resumé, and they deserve a detailed job explanation. Check out the helpful video below from Indeed.

Try to reach possible future employees through social media as well. For example, 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 these are optimized for mobile. More and more life is being conducted through phones, so adjusting accordingly is important.

Look at comparable job listings for inspiration, and 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 when finding and hiring employees 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 technical and non-technical traits you hope to find in a candidate.
  • Always return 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 whether they are a good fit based on 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 highlighting 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 in whichever direction they choose. Remember, they’re supposed to be ones 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 for any employee.
  • Retail positions now require some technical skills, especially for management roles. Ensure they are fluent in applicable software and 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 how they would respond to criticism, a stressful situation, or customer complaints.
  • Always allow time for them to ask you questions. Good questions come from thoughtful people.

6. How to Recruit for Retail Stores: 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. Employer brand is super important for your business. Your vision during the retail recruitment interview process should parallel 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” 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 socialize at work. Hence, they often care to know a bit 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 giving you important feedback on improvements.

7. How To Rectuit for Retail Stores: Design A Protocol for Follow-Ups

Hiring for retail positions is usually fast-paced and urgent. You might have 10 candidates in one day. Or you 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 deciding, 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 new employees so 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 click the link below if you’re interested in a new retail POS system. It can’t do your hiring for you, but KORONA POS can make your new employee’s first few weeks a little easier with the intuitive layout and navigable interface. Give it a try!

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FAQs: Retail Recruitment

1. What is retail recruiting?

Retail recruiting is the process of identifying, attracting, and hiring candidates to fill job positions within the retail industry. This specialized form of recruiting focuses on sourcing individuals with the necessary skills and traits to thrive in customer-facing roles, such as sales associates, store managers, and customer service representatives. Retail recruiting aims to build a skilled and motivated workforce to deliver excellent customer experiences and drive sales.

2. How do you attract retail employees?

To attract retail employees, focus on creating an appealing job listing that highlights benefits like competitive pay, flexible schedules, and opportunities for growth. Leverage various recruitment channels, including online job boards, social media platforms, and local community networks. Lastly, emphasize your company’s positive work culture and commitment to employee development to entice retail professionals to join your team.

3. What makes a good candidate for retail?

A good candidate for retail should possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills to interact effectively with customers and team members. They should have a client-centric mindset, displaying empathy, patience, and a willingness to meet customer needs and resolve issues. Additionally, a strong work ethic, adaptability, and a positive attitude are crucial traits that enable a candidate to thrive in the fast-paced and dynamic environment of the retail industry.

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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