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Interviews are critical for separating potential employees from poor fits. This is especially true for your grocery business. A mismatched hire could end up being a drag on your team, or worse, introduce elements of criminality into your store. 
 

Q&A: Conducting Incredible Interviews

It’s vital to understand what you’re interviewing for before you start thinking about who to interview. What you’re looking for is the right mindset and outlook. I always tell retailers, “hire for attitude, train for skill.” A bright candidate with a great attitude can learn specific tasks. But if you’re starting with an unproductive attitude—for example, a candidate who doesn’t care about punctuality—you’re going to have a much harder time getting value from that person, even if they’re experienced. 

You can figure out which attitudes to look for by studying your top (go-to) employees. What characteristics do they exhibit? What words would you use to describe them? Think about those qualities, then build your questions around them. For example, say your go-to people are very reliable. You can look for that trait by asking a candidate, “Tell me about a time when unforeseen events upended your schedule, and how did you address that?” 

When it comes to finding great job candidates, what’s the first thing retailers should do?

Once you’ve found a standout employee, you’ll want to keep them on board. Use customized training and professional development opportunities to engage employees at every level of your store. 

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To help you learn how to conduct interviews that get results, we sat down with Laurie Glaude, Director of SUPERVALU University. Read on to learn her tips for asking smart questions, gaining in-depth insights and finding the best talent for your business.  

Laurie Glaude, SHRM-CP, PHR, CC  
Director, SUPERVALU University

I always tell retailers, hire for attitude, train for skill.

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Related to that—what are the best kinds of questions to ask during a job interview? 

Any question that elicits a detailed, thoughtful response. Grocery retailers are busy people, so they tend to ask quick “yes or no” interview questions, or questions that just cover the facts—Have you ever been a cashier before? Where? For how long? While these questions aren’t wrong per se, they don’t generate the kinds of responses that paint a full picture of the candidate. So make your questions open-ended. Ask candidates, “What really excites you the most?” or “What would a perfect day at work look like for you?” And really listen to their answers. 

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Say you have a great interview with a candidate who seems perfect for the job. Should you give them an offer immediately? 

No! You can gain so many valuable insights into a candidate if you make the interview a multi-step process. So they knocked the interview out of the park—that’s wonderful! Now send them away and invite them back for a second interview. You want to see if their behavior in the first interview—like dressing appropriately or giving strong answers—is repeatable. The more time and energy you invest on the front end of the hiring process, the less you’ll have to invest later on in training or dealing with a lackluster employee. 

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What are your thoughts on having more than one interviewer? 

I say, the more people you have in the interview process, the better off you are. It’s always helpful to get a second opinion when you’re making big decisions, and figuring out whether to add someone to your team or not is a huge decision. The more people you can bring into this process, the more perspectives you have to draw from to make your hiring decision. 

Remember those go-to employees I mentioned before? Invite them to sit in on interviews, particularly the ones you know have leadership potential. Your standout team members might pick up something you missed, or confirm your gut impressions of a candidate. 

Any other advice for conducting great interviews? 

One easy way to gauge a candidate’s enthusiasm and fit with your team is to turn the tables on them. At the end of the interview, ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” Sharp candidates will want to learn as much about you and your business as possible, so they won’t let this golden opportunity pass. 

In the past, when I worked in retail, I liked to invite job candidates into the grocery store and say, “I want you to feel good about this culture, so I’ll put any of my employees in front of you—who would you like to speak to?” This forced candidates to think on their feet and gave me an excellent opportunity to see how they engaged with my other team members up close. 

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