Mastering retail recruitment: Steps for success in building your sales team

Retail manager conducting a retail recruitment interview

When it comes to retail success, one factor stands out above the rest: your sales team. 

But building such a team is no walk in the park! That's why we at RedSeed, have put together our best tips for recruiting successful sales teams for retail stores. 

Having a well-selected, motivated and talented group of sales managers and retail sales assistants can make a BIG difference in driving your revenue and taking care of your customers. 

Whether you're a retail manager, HR professional or business owner, these tips will help you find and hire candidates with the right skills, attitude and values for your retail sales environment.

So, let's dive right in!

How to recruit for retail stores

Understand the role.

Having a clear and well-defined understanding of the role you’re hiring for will help you shape your job description and attract the right candidates. 

Think about it; if you're vague about what you're looking for, you might end up with a bunch of applications from people who don't quite fit the bill. 

But when you're clear and specific, you'll attract those who genuinely have the skills and experience you need. It's like a magnet for awesome talent.

To get this insight, you’ll need some first-hand experience (we can’t stress enough how valuable this is!).

Spend time observing the daily operations of your store and interacting with the customers and sales team. Discuss with each team member their experiences, challenges, and any areas where they feel additional support is needed. 

This collaborative approach allows you to tap into their expertise and gain a better understanding of the skills and qualities that would complement the existing team and allow a new hire to excel in the role. 

Their input will be invaluable in shaping your hiring strategy and crafting a job description that accurately reflects the requirements of the role.

Get your messaging right.

Your job ad may be the first impression that applicants have of your store, so it pays to get it right. 

A well-written job ad will effectively "sell the role" and attract the right candidates. And it all comes down to the words you use! 

When writing your ad, make sure your position title is easy to understand and actually says what the role is. A ‘Sales Superstar’ or ‘Customer experience partner’ is not only cringy, but it's pretty confusing. 

Keep it simple, and don’t use in-house or industry jargon that only you understand. To err on the safe side, we recommend sticking to ‘Retail Assistant’ or ‘Sales Assistant’. 

When describing the role, use detailed and clear bullet points to communicate what you’re looking for. 

Focus only on what candidates NEED and keep the requirements to a minimum, about 5-6. A long list of requirements can be overwhelming and may put off potentially good applicants.

And lastly, highlight the unique selling points of your retail store. Include salary, job perks, upskilling opportunities and your unique environment. This is your chance to sell your business to candidates as a great place to work.

Use a fair and inclusive screening process.

To ensure you're not missing out on top talent, make sure you adopt a screening process that embraces diversity and inclusive practices. 

Diversity in your retail sales team delivers HUGE benefits by bringing in broader perspectives, enhanced creativity and increased customer appeal. 

When screening, stick to defined hiring criteria and use the same evaluation method for every candidate. By doing this, you’re far more likely to create a fair and unbiased screening process that ensures everyone is assessed on an equal playing field.

The first step is to determine if applicants meet the "must-have" requirements in terms of skills, abilities, and workplace fit. It's a straightforward yes or no assessment. 

Those who meet the criteria can then proceed to the next stage, where you’ll chat with them over the phone to get a better sense of who they are. The key here is to use the same set of questions for each candidate, creating a consistent and fair evaluation process. 

This blanket approach helps eliminate any potential bias that may arise from using different standards for different applicants.

Ask good questions. 

This is a biggy! As the interviewer, it's up to you to ask relevant and insightful questions that will help you get the information you need. Getting it right will reveal more about the candidate's experience, skill sets, values and attitudes. 

To ensure an effective interview, begin by noting down the key requirements for the role and crafting a question for each one. These questions should cover a range of areas, such as the candidate's knowledge, past experience, self-evaluations, and what they would do in particular retail scenarios. 

By incorporating a variety of questions, you will gain a deeper understanding of the candidate's overall suitability and fit. 

Once you have compiled your list of questions, it is helpful to arrange them in a logical order. Start with easier questions to create a comfortable and confident atmosphere for the candidate. 

This approach will gradually build them up to face more challenging questions as the interview progresses.

Conduct reference checks.

Ensuring the right choice for your existing team, customers, and store's reputation, conducting reference checks plays a crucial role. Despite being often overlooked in retail, a quick 10-minute call can either support or challenge your decision-making, potentially saving you time and future headaches.

To begin, it is important to request references from the candidate's previous managers since they are more likely to provide valuable insights into their work performance. However, avoid pushing for references from their current managers to prevent any potential tension for the candidate.

Next, prepare a set of thoughtful and specific questions that are tailored to the requirements of the retail role. These questions should explore areas such as the candidate's customer service skills, ability to handle stressful situations (like boxing day sales), and reliability.

During your conversations with the references, actively listen to the information provided and ask follow-up questions to dive deeper into the candidate's strengths and areas for improvement. Using the same set of questions for each reference and candidate ensures fairness in your evaluation.

So there you have it.

Recruiting the best sales team for your retail store requires a strategic approach and attention to detail. From understanding your hiring needs to careful candidate selection, following these simple yet effective steps will help you build a diverse, high-performing retail sales team. 

Remember, each step is an opportunity to strengthen your retail business and create a customer-focused environment that drives sales and fosters long-term success.

Happy recruiting!

Some quick FAQs

How do you recruit retail managers?

When recruiting retail managers, it's crucial to find people who possess strong leadership skills. Equally important is their ability to cultivate a coaching mentality, allowing them to support, grow, and motivate their teams effectively.

Look for candidates who have a proven track record of empowering their employees, offering constructive feedback, and promoting personal and professional growth. You’ll need someone who can recognise and maximise your team's strengths and lead by example when coaching new skills

A retail manager that can lead but also has the ability to bring out the best in others will boost productivity, enhance customer service, and drive overall success for your business.

How do you conduct a retail interview?

The interview is the MOST important step in the retail recruitment process. This is where you gather information about the candidate and determine whether they’d be a good match for the role and your workplace. 

To get the most out of your candidates in a retail interview, you need to ask relevant and insightful questions. Start by asking open-ended questions about previous retail experience, focusing on specific situations candidates have encountered and how they handled them. Encourage them to share examples of exceptional customer service and creative problem-solving. Throughout the interview, actively listen and engage with the candidate. Ask follow-up questions to learn more about how they work in a team, their communication style and what motivates them. Remember, the goal is to get to know the person behind their CV and assess their fit with your team. Having a good set of interview questions specific to the role and what you’re looking for will help you achieve this.

Published by:
Emily Gibson
Instructional Designer
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