Attitude - not skillset - is everything when hiring staff
Q. Can you advise me on any techniques when interviewing new staff? I have made a few errors in my choices over the last year and I am trying to improve my selection process.
A. There are lots of practical things you could do, like having a well thought through application form which would be designed to highlight certain skills, use a scoring system to rate people you interview and perhaps involve another person in the interview process, or call people back for a second interview.
They are all practical things and any book you pick up will give you advice on these.
Perhaps stepping back a little would help also. What type of person are you looking for and are you clear in your own mind?
I found over the decades of selecting staff for Superquinn, that hiring for attitude worked far better than hiring for skillset.
If someone arrived to an interview with a great personality and a big smile on their face that almost guaranteed them the job, as we took the view that we could train them on anything else after that.
It is impossible to train someone to get the right attitude. And, while they might have all the technical skills in the world, you will never improve that part of their personality.
I also see lots of companies now conduct group interviews or provide candidates with a task so that the interview becomes far more interactive with an opportunity to see the person in action.
I also subscribe to the idea of offering people trial days where they come in and actually work in the business for a day before you actually take them on.
Of course you would need to make a gesture of payment for this to be fair, but it gives far more real assessment, than sitting at a table chatting with someone.
Hire for attitude and the rest will work itself out.
QLooking back on the Superquinn business, what was the single thing that made it successful?
AThere were many reasons people shopped in Superquinn ... customer service, the focus on fresh foods, the calibre of management and staff, the look and feel of the shops, etc.
However, I don't believe there was any one reason you could pick as to why people chose to shop with us.
It was more about a culture that was instilled in the business that didn't need a script. In other words, we did business in a certain way and our team understood the values of what the company stood for.
Therefore, whether it was a fresh food display or some service initiatives that one of the branches started themselves, much of the day-to-day business was run from the bottom up rather than the top down.
That gave customers a real sense that they had some ownership in their own branch and could make suggestions that could be taken on board.
While the customer service and physical aspects of our shops were important, what was more important was the way we did business.
If you look at any successful cafes or retail store, you will find that they stand for certain values and there are certain things they won't do.
Being clear on the values that your business stands for should be the core focus of every business, if you are trying to carve out that special place in the market.