The holiday hiring season is fast approaching, and while some of you are still getting ready, others are well underway. Giants like Amazon and Target traditionally get their holiday hiring started ahead of time and with 62% of shoppers expected to once again shop earlier this year, it’s not a bad idea. Furthermore, many of the larger brands are upping the ante this year with higher pay, sign-on bonuses and other perks to attract seasonal employees in a tight labor market.
The strategy for attracting the right seasonal employees isn’t the same as it is for year-round employees. That’s because the talent you hire needs to possess a different set of skills. They need to seamlessly integrate with your full-time staff and keep customers happy during the hectic holiday season. Plus, they need to be ready to jump in feet first and fully embrace your brand, all while staying positive, helpful, and upbeat.
Even though seasonal employees are with your company for a limited time, they’re employed during one of the most critical times of the year. Just because you’re hiring employees for a fixed period of time, and not permanently, doesn’t mean you should rush the recruiting process. Given that you have limited time for training and onboarding, make sure to hire people who can best manage the job duties. The simplest way to ensure a good hire is to ask targeted interview questions to gauge candidates’ skills and make objective hiring decisions. Here are some examples of interview questions that will help you assess whether candidates are qualified for your seasonal positions:
Why are you looking for a temporary position?
Asking a candidate about why they are interested in a temporary position can be quite illuminating. It can help you determine if they like to move around or they’re testing out different industries. It can also help to gauge whether they’d be interested in staying on full-time after the season.
What are your work plans once the season is over?
This question can help to assess the type of roles a candidate has their sights set on so you know exactly where they fit in your talent pipeline. In some cases, a perfectly strong candidate may be down on their luck in the job search and are looking for seasonal employment until something permanent opens up. Others will explain their plans for ongoing education or list prospective companies or roles they plan to apply to.
What is your availability?
For seasonal workers, one of the most important factors is their availability. It won’t do you any good to hire a candidate that can’t be able to be there when you need them most. Make certain they understand the days and times that you require them to work and seek out candidates whose existing schedule works with your companies needs.
Is your schedule flexible?
The holiday season means extended business hours and higher volumes. This may mean that coverage will be required during hours beyond a normal work schedule. Knowing how flexible your potential employee can be might make the difference in achieving full coverage or not.
Can you give me an example where you had to learn quickly on the job?
Adaptability is one of the most essential traits of a seasonal hire. Due to the short term and quick turnaround of the position, temporary staff needs to be able to recognize and respond to the company culture, pick up the specifics of their project, and quickly learn process and protocol.
What do you hope to learn or gain from this position?
The majority of seasonal employees aren’t seeking permanent employment, but it’s still crucial to understand the “what” and “why” behind their motivations. Be on the lookout for candidates who note specific skills and experiences they want to gain from this short-term employment. These will likely be the most dedicated and determined seasonal hires.
Which of our company values do you align with most and why?
Use this question to dig below the surface of your candidate. Oftentimes it’s an aspect they didn’t consider. Take the time to share your company values with them if they are unsure and give them a moment to think. Their candid responses will give you a closer look at their genuine connections to the company and customers.
How will you provide value to our team this season?
Seasonal employees may be with you for a short time, but they have the potential to make a lasting impact on end-of-the-year numbers and customer satisfaction. This question helps them step back from their immediate need for employment and consider their goals as seasonal employees. Candidates who are confident in their skills and dedicated to contributing to a great cause will show their value with little prompting.
What is your past experience in this industry?
This question is your best source for determining how much training a candidate will need to become proficient in their tasks. That being said even if the candidate doesn’t have previous experience in your industry look for indicators that they have comparable skills, as well as the ability to learn quickly.
Have you ever worked a holiday rush before?
There amount of speed, accuracy, stress management, flexibility and cheer it takes to get through Black Friday at a large company is no small thing. Again, don’t discount a candidate if this will be their first working holiday season, instead focus on the traits they will need to excel in the faced paced environment they are heading into.
Tips for Interviewing Seasonal Candidates
- Be transparent about work conditions.
Regardless of how detailed your job ad is, always go over the key points such as schedule, and job duties during interviews.
- Look for values fit
For customers, seasonal employees often become the face of your brand during their short tenure. Keep an eye out for candidates who understand your business objectives and share your values.
- Set expectations early.
Be direct with what the expectations of the role are so that future hires don’t get caught by surprise and leave in the middle of your peak season.