Every retailer wants to hire good people. But not just good people, good people who can also do high-quality work. Too often we find candidates with one of these traits or the other, rather than a glorious balance of both.

Sometimes we find a great personality, but ho-hum selling skills. Or maybe we hire someone who’s socially awkward but can move our dustiest inventory with ease.

Then, on that rare occasion when finding a diamond in the rough who can knock it out of the park both interpersonally and with UPTs, we assume we got lucky. Maybe that’s true – maybe we did get lucky – but we shouldn’t have to depend on good fortune to draw them in.

When it comes to hiring, retailers traditionally spend too much time trying to perfect the hiring process. Spending too much time on inventing newfangled interview questions to weed out bad prospects. They expect a tweak here and there in the overall dance will magically unveil the next game-changer.

But they are barking up the wrong tree.

If specialty retailers genuinely want to attract high-quality staffers, they must look deeper within. They need to put their vision, mission and overall environment under a microscope. They need to scrutinize what might make their shop attractive to the best people out there, not only to folks who saw the “We’re Hiring” post on Facebook.

More than anything else, retailers need to be harvesting folks who fit into their culture.

So if you’ve been hiring duds, I encourage you to ask yourself two simple questions:


Are you one staffing problem away from a disaster? Because if you’re working with so lean a staff that one employee’s departure puts a hole in the stern, you probably have hired out of desperation. And desperation attracts desperation, not top-quality.


What’s your level of energy and enthusiasm? You want people excited to work at your store, right? Well then, you need to be excited to be there, too. If you are stressed out or less-focused on what makes your store amazing, guess what your floor staff will embody. You guessed it. They will embody your vibe. Staff is always a reflection of the leadership.

Store culture is your number one hiring tool. So take a close look at yours and decide if it’s luring the sort of people you want on your team. It’s like that line from Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” Culture may seem emotive (and as such, immeasurable), but emotion is what defines it and makes it appealing.

Maybe it’s time for you to look inward and raise your bar a bit? Maybe you need to stop relying on a killer process for answers?

Dial in your culture and you’ll attract people with similar beliefs and ethics. And sure, have a good hiring process, too. But don’t rely on it to find your rockstars.