Five Challenges Facing Retail Hiring Managers (And Solutions to Overcome Them)

Meghan Peterson | June 16, 2021

The needs and challenges of retail recruitment are vast, but they all can be met and overcome with the right tools and planning.

High hiring volumes, immense competition, high turnover…just a few of the reasons why retail recruitment is so different from recruitment in other industries. The retail industry is one of the largest, with about 15 million people working in retail sales. It employs people from all backgrounds and walks of life and has a truly unique process due to the mere size and diversity of sectors.

With all of this comes unique hiring challenges for owners and managers when it is time to fill open positions during the high season. We have compiled a list of the top ten challenges facing retail hiring managers along with ways to overcome them with a little help from our proven interviewstream tools. Check them out below:

  1. Safe hiring practices
  2. High employee turnover
  3. Hiring a diverse workforce
  4. Creating the ideal candidate profile
  5. Creating meaningful employee experiences

Top five retail hiring challenges

1. Safe hiring practices

In a competitive and candidate-driven job market, it’s important to create an employer brand image that supports the health and safety of employees – and it starts with your hiring practices. Retail store recruitment has historically been driven by walk-in, face-to-face interviews. And while we continue to wear masks and social distance, it is imperative that retailers get creative with their hiring and interview practices to account for the shift in candidate expectations. A great solution is to implement remote interviewing tools like live video interviews and on-demand video interviews. These tools allow candidates to interview from the safety and comfort of their home while simplifying your interview process and reducing your time-to-hire.

Tip: Do you require in-person interviews before a hiring decision is made? Use on-demand interviews to screen out the wrong candidates before asking them to come in person.

2. High employee turnover

Turnover in the retail sector is about 5% per month. With the average cost of replacing each employee being around 16% of that employee’s annual wages, the cost of turnover can add up rather quickly. For perspective, if Walmart experienced this average for one year with their 500,000 employees, it would cost them $1 billion annually to replace their workforce. That is an exorbitant amount of money lost per year!

So what can you do to combat employee turnover? Provide your employees with development or advancement opportunities, fair compensation, and positive recognition programs that reward their hard work.

Tip: Are you currently facing high employee turnover? Try using an employee referral program. These programs can reduce your cost per hire, increase retention, and strengthen your employer brand.

3. Hiring a diverse workforce

Diversity maximizes productivity, creativity, and employee loyalty while meeting customer needs. The diversity of your employees should mirror the diversity of your customers. It can often be difficult to both hire and retain a diverse workforce, but as the value of diversity grows, recruiting diverse employees is critical to organizational success. Businesses should start by creating and publicizing a diversity policy, writing non-discriminatory job descriptions, and advertising job openings across multiple channels.

Tip: Are you wondering how to create a fair hiring process? Use structured interviews to make sure all your candidates are measured against the same scoring criteria – ensuring they all get a fair shot at the role and you make a data-based hiring decision.

4. Creating the ideal candidate profile

In contrast to many other industries, retail jobs don’t target a specific demographic. Retail employees can span across all educational levels, background experiences, and qualifications – making it tricky to create an ideal candidate profile. In retail, however, your employees are regularly engaging with your customers, which means that your candidate profile and interviews should move away from just assessing skills and experience to assessing the personality traits that translate to great customer service and ideal team players.

Tip: Identify ideal team players in your candidate pool by moving out of traditional interview settings (hello video interviews!), and ditching conventional interview questions to see if your candidate is hungry, humble, and smart.

5. Creating meaningful employee experiences

An engaged workforce that stems from a strong culture is key to a company’s long-term success. Studies show that companies with high-engagement practices reduce employee turnover by 25%. Time is always the obstacle for HR teams, and considering the current climate, it is now an even larger hurdle. Having systems and tools in place to connect with employees virtually now that remote work is here to stay – think virtual happy hours or virtual birthday celebrations – is vital to creating and maintaining employee engagement and facilitating meaningful experiences within your organization.

Tip: Are you trying to showcase your company culture to potential employees? Ask your top performers to complete an on-demand video interview describing the company culture and why they love working for you.

Start answering the challenges of high-volume retail hiring

The requirements and challenges of retail recruitment are vast, but they all can be met and overcome with the right tools and planning. As the world evolves and becomes more reliant on technology and retail trends follow suit, retailer recruiters need to keep up with the times. The right recruiting and interviewing technology will save your team time and money and keep you a step ahead of your competitors.

And we are here to help! Set up a time today to talk to an expert about how we can change your retail recruitment game to help you handle the upswings and downswings of the retail hiring cycles. After all, restrictions are being lifted and we are starting to see a new normal. We want you to be prepared for the shopping frenzy that is sure to come!

About The Author

Meghan Peterson is the VP of Revenue at interviewstream. She combines her experience in sales, recruiting, and tech to support customers of all sizes in her role. If you’d like to pick her brain about her advice here or simply start a conversation, feel free to give Meg a shout at


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