Employee Issues? Learn To Hire Well

The beauty of having ‘sucky’ employees is that it points out a problem. Right? When you see a problem, you have 2 options. Whine about it or address it.

As I always say, there are only 2 kinds of retailers – whiners and winners.

You are a winner…so let’s address the problem, shall we?

The root of the problem is making sure that you are hiring well. I know that was always a struggle for me. I am a relationship gal. I love to talk to people. I like everyone – well most everyone. ? So I would ‘interview’ a prospective hire and then say, “I liked her. She seemed nice and has experience.” I would check her references and then make a decision.

What was my hiring decision based on? My gut.

There was my mistake. That alone isn’t enough. I always knew there should be more to the process but it took me a while to figure it out.

#1. Identify the key traits that you are looking for in an employee. Evan Wise from Management One taught me this key principle. Pick about 5 that are important to you. A toy store client that I just took through this exercise decided that these were important to her:

  • fast learner – smart –
  • self motivated
  • playful
  • Good at multi tasking
  • Relaxed
  • sense of humor
  • knowledge of toys is a plus

#2 Design questions to determine if the prospect possesses these traits. Again, Evan Wise told me that the questions can either be asked or be on the application and then reviewed during the interview. For some of the questions, it is best to describe a situation and ask how the prospect would handle it. Here are some of the questions that we came up with today:

fast learners – smart –

  • Do you think you are a fast learner? ( I used this myself and was surprised by how many people said no!)
  • What was your high school/college GPA? (I am not an attorney and don’t know if there are legalities about this. I always asked this question. I found that high school/college experiences shed a light into people’s personality.)

self motivated

  • Are you a leader? Were you the Pres or VP in any high school groups?
  • In a previous job, did you ever see something that could be done differently and better? And what did you do about it?


  • What is our favorite animal and why?
  • What is your favorite toy and why?

Good at multi tasking

  • How do you handle juggling a lot of balls in the air?

Relaxed and with sense of humor

  • How do handle lots of customers in the store…and screaming kids…and you are wrapping a package…do you feel your heart rate go up? How do you handle it? (If they answer that they would need to take a little break in the backroom right then, you know that they aren’t right for the job!)
  • Which is cooler: space pirates or space wizards? (I love this one because you can really get a feel for their personality.)

open schedule

  • Are you willing to work Saturdays and Sundays? And you know that your hours will change? (Always ask these questions!)

knowledge of toys is a plus

  • What do you know about toys?

Specific retail situational questions:

  • What would they do if child was destroying a package or out of control?
  • How would you handle a situation where a customer brought in a toy bought a few days ago and it was broken and they wanted to replace it?
  • How would you handle a situation where a customer brought in a toy bought a few days ago and said that it was cheaper online? What would you do?
    You want to find some situation to determine if they will get defensive or if they will take a stand for you.

#3. Tell me more. These 3 words are golden. You should speak only about 25% of the time in an interview. Your goal is to find out as much as you can about the prospect.

#4. Next to each trait rate the prospect on a scale of 1-10. This allows you to compare candidates more objectively.

#5. “On scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you?” This gem comes from Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappo’s. This is really one of the questions asked when you apply to work at Zappo’s. It is genius because it determines if a person sees themselves as a victim of life’s circumstances or as a person who can overcome obstacles. Let’s face it. There will be obstacles in every business day and you want to know if a person is just going to complain or if they are going to tackle it and find a solution.

These questions provide a great start to your interview process and give you much more information to make your decision about your job prospect. We will deal with another aspect of the beauty of ‘sucky’ employees next week!