Employee Selection is Vital to the Success of your Business

Let’s face it, employees are the biggest expenditure for any brick and mortar retailer and one of the most difficult to manage. Finding and hiring the right employees was a topic we discussed in the JA Seminar Series. We learned that finding quality employees is vital to the continued success of our businesses. To build on this, we’re launching a series about how jewelers can master the hiring process. Here are a few tips to help find the best employees for your team.

Identifying the Right Candidate(s) is a Little Like Merchandising

Since your retail employees will be directly interacting with customers and influencing your customer’s first impression of your brand, you’ll want to think of what the ideal customer interaction looks like before you can identify the best fitting employee. Knowing the ideal interaction will help you recognize the perfect candidates.

We all know that there is an intangible quality to the best of employees (an unidentifiable spark), but their more concrete qualities can be uncovered with a strategic hiring process. Characteristics such as judgment, presentation, work ethic and customer savvy can all be revealed in an interview. Every salesperson has a style –– here are a few you may be looking for:

  • Are you looking for a “closer,” someone who can get the sale every time?
  • How about the “friend,” who encourages your customer to make the best choices for themselves and remembers those choices every time they visit?
  • Or maybe, the “servant,” the person who caters to each customer’s whim, and offers all the bells and whistles to their interaction?

As a jeweler, you know your customer’s needs and should give as much consideration to who you hire as you do to your store’s product assortment. The right candidate will be able to enhance the customer experience every time. In rare cases, this ideal candidate responds to a job post or walks in your door, but since this is unusual, a proactive approach may be necessary.

Don’t Shop While You’re Hungry –– and Don’t Hire in a Hurry

 You’ve heard this line before, but in practice, it means that if you’re looking to hire people after you have a need, you will be selecting people the way you select food at a grocery store when you are hungry ––not good, thoughtful, choices, but whatever is quick and easy. To avoid this, you need to have staffing on the mind and maintain relationships, even if you don’t have an open position now. Retail is a people business so a traditional approach to finding people can be the best option. Here are a few ideas to keep hiring front of mind.

  • While Shopping: You are a consumer and you interact with salespeople all the time – if an associate at a store you’re in catches your attention, let them know and offer them a business card.
  • Current Employees: Your happy employees are a great source for referrals. Find out if they have friends looking for
    additional and/or part-time work.
  • Local Community: Networking within your local community offers great opportunities to build both your candidate pool and your business overall.

Along with traditional methods, if you are looking to use online resources, most jewelers find that well-designed Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts advertising positions are a great way to find quality candidates. For Twitter and Instagram, use hashtags that include your city, the type of job (like marketing, sales associate), #jobsand #fashionjobs. Dedicated industry sites like Create & Cultivate, Fashion Jobs, Business of Fashion, and FashionUnited are also amazingly helpful. Remember to have the position well outlined on your website so that applicants can easily be sorted.

Making The Interview Process Positive and Profitable

Now that you’ve posted your job, used traditional and online resources to recruit, it’s time for the interview process. If you’re a little uncomfortable, don’t worry, your candidate is too! In order to conduct successful interviews, there are a few key steps to help make the process less painful.

  1. Develop An Interview Guide: This is a consistent list of questions you will ask during each interview to determine your best candidate. Without this step, the process will always seem daunting.
  2. Pick Your Interview Questions: Select 10-15 questions that will help you learn the most about the candidate, and get comfortable asking them.
  3. Know the Answers You’re Looking For: Know what you are looking for in an answer or response and why each question is important to you.
  4. Know when to End an Interview: Pick a place in the interview that you will determine if you like this candidate and want to ask further questions or if this person is not a good fit and to conclude the interview. You do not have to ask all questions to every candidate.
  5. Cover the Job Description: Make sure the candidate knows the expectations of the job. Add in the company culture here, too! This adds enticement to the best candidates.
  6. Ask About Employee Expectations: Take this opportunity to ask the candidate about their expectations and answer their questions.. Salary, benefits, scheduling and attire are crucial topics and can give you insight into what they value in a position.

Pro Tip: If you need help in developing an interview guide, the web is full of great ideas, so you don’t even have to come up with the questions yourself!  Fit Small Business, The Balance, Hubspot and ABC News all offer some great examples of interview questions that may be useful.

If you use your guide with each interview, you may find you actually begin to enjoy the interview process. After all, you’re learning about someone else and people have fantastic stories, and the guide takes the guardedness out of the equation for you. As you meet with prospective candidates, make sure to keep detailed notes, so you can remember pertinent facts about each candidate when you are making your final selection.

Offering the Right Candidate a Position

Now that you’ve been through the interview process and identified the perfect candidate, it’s time to make an offer. How you present your offer is important and these key tips will help you seal the deal.

  • Know Your Competition: Know what your competitors are offering as salary, benefits and job perks so you can be sure to hire the candidate of your choice.
  • Be Creative: Salary is important, but perks can be even more appealing and even small businesses can offer creative perks. Product discounts, flexible schedules, partnerships with other local businesses and opportunities for growth will add value to the overall offer.
  • Set the Tone: Make time for a quality conversation with the candidate and show enthusiasm for the offer. Detail the reasons why you feel they are the best candidate. The tone in which you offer the job will set the stage for their experience working with you and their commitment to your company.

Great Employees Can Be Found with a Little Investment

Finding great employees is often touted as the most challenging part of the retail world, but understanding the importance of quality hires will encourage you to spend additional resources here. Being proactive and thoughtful throughout the interview and selection process will be very worth the time investment.

Want to learn more about hiring practices and finding great employees? Register for JA New York and attend our summer education series today!

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Editorial By: Kecia M. Lee and Photos By: Matthew HenryChristian Mackie