Reduce staff turnover by hiring the right people

According to a study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, staff turnover costs range from 50% to 150% of annual salary depending on the role and level of seniority. We can see the importance immediately of staff retention in business. So why do we sometimes seem to lose staff at a greater rate than we can hire them and how can we avoid this continuing?

Here are some remedies for ensuring that your recruitment practices are on the right track to being ‘fit for business’.

1. They smile

If a person can’t pull off a smile in an interview then they either don’t really want the job or smiling just doesn’t come naturally. Hire people who are good-natured, like people and have a happy disposition. Lots of optimism, positivity and happiness always go a long way in a people-to-people business. You can always teach someone the technical knowledge but you can never teach them to smile. I wouldn’t employ somebody who couldn’t smile in an interview.

2. They make eye contact

Call me old-fashioned but averting the eyes, limp handshake and failing to maintain eye contact just send the wrong signals to me and to a potential customer in my business. Look for the people that look you in the eye and are confident (without being arrogant).

3. They have done their homework

Always ask them what they know about your company. With a mountain of information on the internet there is simply no excuse for an applicant in not being prepared and knowing some of the public details of your business.

4. See what they see

I used to work for a manager who would ask short listed applicants (especially assistant store manager and above) to actually visit one or two of the stores and then provide feedback on what they saw and how they would improve the situation. This is a fantastic way to quickly understand what the applicant actually sees, their structure of approach in response and possibly pick up a few great ideas for your business. (Not to mention a great recruit).

5. What they did is more important than what they say

Always ask for specific examples of their achievements. Specifically the issue, their action and the solution. Look for facts, figures and how they achieved the solution in their answers. This is important for any level in the business (just tailor the question and your expectations to the role).

6. Being human

I think this is just a personal view although I like to ask applicants to outline a mistake or failure in their career, after all, everyone makes mistakes or has failures (otherwise how are they developing and growing?) What I am looking for is their humility, what they learnt and how they developed from it. After hearing about their achievements it is important to understand the person and if an applicant tells me that they have never made a mistake or failed at anything, then I am unlikely to hire a superhero.

7. They ask for the job

Even if they had no sales experience some applicants have naturally interviewed me with questions about the company, the position, the team, etc and then used that information to ask for the job. Beware the super slick salesperson although if they can close you then closing the sales in your business will be a no brainier for these people. Admire the courage and confidence and if they can tick all the other boxes then hire them!

Brian Walker is Managing Director of Australasia’s leading retail consultancy, the Retail Doctor Group. For more on Retail Doctor Group’s Effective People program email


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