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Keeping a convenience store fully staffed has always been a challenge, and with low unemployment rates right now, operators are really feeling squeezed. Once you recruit potential employees, the next step is interviewing the people who seem like a good fit. Follow these convenience store interviewing strategies.

Take Your Time

Spending time preparing for an interview may seem unrealistic. If you’re understaffed, you’re probably filling in for missing employees while your own to-do list keeps growing. You may feel like you barely have enough time to conduct an interview let alone prepare for it. But by preparing for the interview, you can be more efficient during the interview. Review the interviewee’s application carefully and jot down questions that apply specifically to their past positions, education, and life experience.

Treat Applicants Like Customers

Whether you end up hiring the applicant or not, your customer service philosophy must be reflected in your interviewing process. Treat potential employees like your best customers – greet them by name, make eye contact, thank them for coming in, and smile. You never get a chance to make a positive first impression – this applies to both customers and applicants.

Ask the Right Questions

Get the formalities of interviewing out of the way quickly so you can move on to questions that really tell you what you need to know about an applicant. Avoid yes or no questions. Instead of asking, “Are you comfortable handling customer complaints?” ask “If a customer complains about a mess in the restroom, how would you respond?” How quickly and coherently an applicant responds to open-ended questions is just as important as the answers themselves.

Focus on Attitude Over Experience

Skills can be taught. You should already have a convenience store training program in place to take care of that. What you can’t teach is attitude. You can set expectations for how you want employees to behave, but you’re never going to change their innate personality. Hire applicants for their potential to help you meet your goals, likelihood to fit in with your team, and eagerness to learn.

Be Honest

You want to find a perfect employee just as much as the applicant wants to find a great job, but be careful not to oversell the position you’re hiring for. Be clear and honest about job duties and scheduling requirements and look for confirmation that the applicant understands. With that out of the way, lay out what you have to offer, such as your investment in employee development and career advancement opportunities.

After Interviewing, Make Training Count

New hires won’t come to you fully prepared, even if they have experience in the convenience store industry. Set your new employees up for success with a comprehensive training program. Check out our Early Success Convenience Store Training Program for details. Remember, training reduces turnover.