4 Mistakes Retailers Make When Hiring


COVID-19 has hit the retail sector hard, causing massive layoffs and bankruptcies across the board. While U.S. stores are continuing to struggle with lower sales, there are fortunately some signs of life that consumers are ready to shop again.

As the economy continues to recover, rehiring at retail stores will become more complicated than ever before. Replacing the high turnover of retail employees was an issue even before the pandemic at around 60%, but that number is expected to rise due to illness, safety concerns and relocation. This means retailers have to fix their old way of hiring and adapt new, modern methodologies.

Here are four mistakes retailers are making in hiring that they must address in order to outlast the pandemic’s impact.

1. They’re still relying on in-person hiring

Face-to-face interviews are great, but they were already fading due to the ease and efficiency of video interviews even before the COVID-19 era. Yet, during a time of social distancing, many “old school” retail hiring managers and owners stubbornly refuse to utilize video interviewing software, instead relying on phone calls or still asking candidates to come into the office. Roughly 86% of organizations are utilizing virtual interviews to hire, which means if your business isn’t already embracing this tool, you’re behind the curve.

In a COVID-19 world, video interviews are the fastest, safest and most effective way to meet and vet candidates. Phone calls leave much to be desired when it comes to getting to know a person, especially since studies have shown that 55% of communication is visual. Especially for retailers looking to hire customer-facing roles, seeing that candidates are personable is incredibly important.

Hiring managers who have adopted virtual interviews also tout their efficiency. Candidates are more likely to be on time, less likely to not show up (since one can easily send reminders and confirmations), and interviews can be conducted one right after another. It’s the modern way to see more candidates than managers could before, and the pandemic has only accelerated its adoption.

2. They aren’t leveraging video resumes and responses

Video interviews are more or less being adopted everywhere, but retailers are missing out on a virtual process one step before interviews: video resumes. For example, Carl’s Jr. poses an open-ended question on their job postings so that applicants can answer in a 30-second video that is uploaded with their resume.

This allows the hiring manager to screen candidates for personality even before the virtual interview portion, greatly cutting down the number of applicants to move on to that stage. In high-volume hiring sectors like food services and retail, whittling down applicants is a crucial step when increasing speed and efficiency of the hiring process. These short video responses can help quickly and seamlessly gauge who fits the hiring manager’s criteria and qualifications.

3. They aren’t communicating with candidates via text

A mainstream form of communication in today’s word, text messaging is actually becoming more common, replacing the traditional screener phone call. With a generation of young job seekers who have grown up with a mobile device in their hands, texting is second nature and even more ubiquitous than email. SMS often gets a higher read rate, response rate, and retailers who neglect to use this form of communication can miss out on great, young talent.

More modern retailers are increasingly utilizing a “text-to-apply” feature to meet candidates where they are in their mobile lives. By making it easy to apply for a job while commuting or otherwise away from traditional computers, retailers can increase their pool of applicants by a significant amount.

The most savvy companies even create mobile-friendly applications with smart screening questions that can be easily answered from a mobile device. It’s all about “speaking the language” of the job seeker to create higher responses and better initial relationships.

4. They’re still relying on paper

From applications, to contracts, to training materials, many retailers are still relying on paper to do their hiring. This process has always been a bottleneck in increasing hiring efficiency. More so than ever, retailers will want to ditch their paper applications and embrace the safety — and ease — of electronic methods.

Editable PDFs or web-based applications and contracts are swiftly taking over retail hiring. Not only are they faster than paper, but seamless to file and easier to keep track of. As for onboarding, training videos have been shown to be highly effective when teaching and re enforcing lessons.

Of course, there’s the most comprehensive method to going fully electronic: using an automated hiring platform that can help retailers post online, track and interview candidates virtually, and onboard them without any paperwork involved. As COVID-19 pushes hiring to go contactless, these solutions are seeing increased adoption across all industries.

The future retail is recovery, and that means hiring back furloughed employees or new workers will be a constant need for stores that reopen. The pandemic has exacerbated the need for modern hiring solutions that are efficient, safe, and sustainable.

Desmond Lim

Retailers who continue to make these mistakes in hiring will find themselves left behind as more and more businesses take advantage of the large talent pool of candidates looking for jobs today.

Desmond Lim is the CEO and co-founder of Workstream, a provider of hiring and onboarding solutions.

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