Why I Love a Bad Employee

The beauty of having bad employees is that it points out a problem, right? And when you see a problem, you have 2 options: 

Whine about it or address it.

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

I already know 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.

This was always a struggle for me, because I’m 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 she 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. Listen, you should absolutely listen to your gut and your instincts do have merit! But when hiring a new team member, gut feeling alone is not enough. 

Once I figured out what was missing in my process, I was able to identify 5 key steps to hiring the right person for the job.

5 Steps to Hiring Well

#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 traits 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/Sense of humor
  • Relaxed
  • Open schedule

#2: Design questions to determine if the prospect possesses these traits

The questions can 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 questions that would work for the traits we listed above:

  • Fast learner – smart:
    → Do you think you are a fast learner? (I’ve used this question 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 President 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?
  • Playful/Sense of humor:
    → What is our favorite animal and why?
    → What is your favorite toy and why?
    → Which is cooler: space pirates or space wizards?  (I love this one because you can really get a feel for their personality.)
  • Relaxed:
    → How do you 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!)
  • Open schedule:
    → Are you willing to work Saturdays and Sundays?
    → How do you feel about changing hours? (Always ask these questions!)

#3: “Tell me more…”  

Those 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.  Rate the traits!

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

#5. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you?”

This gem comes from Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappo’s. This is an actual question 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.

Use these questions for a great start to your interview process, they will give you much more information to make your decision about your job prospects.

6 Comments on “Why I Love a Bad Employee”

  1. Thanks for the reminders!
    I am interviewing a teen today for an entry level position
    We will have a quick tour and history (asking about what they might already know and verify)
    Then an informal visit w staff. Then I take folks out to the coffee shop for an uninterrupted interview
    If this goes well, we come back for another informal visit w staff and we set up a time for the next visit
    Second interview is to check that there isn’t an evil twin, and if my/our impression is still positive. Sometimes this is where potential problems show up
    We will discuss the actual job, and there will be a more purposeful vsist w the other staff
    If this is a go, we will set up the work schedule
    Great help reminding me of some good questions and to mostly listen!
    Thanks!

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