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Trends in Retail Recruitment: The “Speed Dating” Approach to Interviews

When it comes to hiring new employees, recruiters in the retail industry are facing a series of unique challenges. Most notably they are faced with incredibly high staff turnover, an above-average volume of applicants and the need to select on a skillset more focused on personality than experience. This makes a fast, effective and accurate screening process a necessity for retailers.

Retail jobs require a specific set of skills, – e.g. pleasant personality, enthusiasm, strong communication skills, sales acumen etc. – which are impossible to evaluate by examining the written applications that candidates send. Especially when these candidates do not have much work experience to recommend them. As a result, retail recruiters are faced with a strenuous and time-consuming selection process. Unlike technical positions, where recruiters can shortlist a number of candidates based on their experience, education and qualifications, retail positions require interaction between the recruiter and the candidate from the very beginning of the selection process.

For this reason, today’s lead retailers use the “speed-date” approach to interviewing candidates. Automated video interviews allow them to get to know their candidates faster and increase the chances of finding the right match.

Industry Trends

According to LinkedIn Talent Blog article, the demand for retail sales specialist has doubled in just the past month, posted October 2020. This means that the number of candidates steadily grew, putting more pressure on recruiters to hire the right candidates faster. Also, the retail market shifted from physical to online stores, creating emphasis on high quality staff interacting face-to-face with consumers at retail stores. Michael Redbord’s article states that, 93% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases at retail stores with great customer services.

The retail industry is characterized by uneven demand for staff, notably during seasonal shopping peaks. So retail recruiters have to deal with temporary staffing and volume recruitment much more than recruiters in any other industry.

As a result, retail recruiters are forced to make quick quality decisions about an incredibly large number of candidates that have to be hired in a short amount of time. Without a fast and accurate screening process, the chances of bad hires increase, leading to high employee turnover and less competitive advantage. A survey by Hay Group found the average annualized turnover in retail to be 67% for part-time employees. This obviously is both costly and time-consuming for the recruiters who have to hire new replacements that have to be trained and worked-in again.

Retailers’ Solution – Automated Video Interviews

In order to deal with a large volume of candidates, increase efficiency by selecting the right candidates faster and reduce turnover, more and more retailers are using video interviews to create an automated selection process focused on (screening) analysing soft skills and personality.

With automated video interviews the recruiters typically spend a few minutes recording 3-5 questions for their candidates and can invite a few hundred candidates to the pre-recorded interview, in one go. The candidates will record their answers from home, at a time that is convenient for them. The recruiters decide how many times the candidates are allowed to redo an answer and how much thinking time they get before answering each question. The average answer per question takes 90 seconds, bringing the entire duration of the interview to 7.5 minutes per candidate. Half the time recruiters spend on an average phone interview! What’s more, candidates get the same questions, in the same order, with the same level of engagement from the interviewer. This not only guarantees a consistent candidate experience, but it also makes the process fair and objective.

“Speed Date”– like Interviews

Retailers use video interviews to see more candidates faster and be able to select them based on soft skills and personality traits. Research shows that the number one cause for employee turnover is a cultural misfit between the company and the employee. As a result, retailers like Aldi Süd, C&A, T-Mobile and Esprit have started investing in engaging with their candidates early on in the selection process, in a fully branded environment and using automated video interviews to test for culture fit. Ever since they have started using automated video interviews, retailers have seen an increase in the quality of hire and a reduction in the turnover rate.

Automated video interview gives direct insight to a candidate’s personality and soft-skills, as well as provides retailers the flexibility and efficiency of a “speed date”-like interview, combined with the accuracy and effectiveness of an on-site assessment. From the candidates’ perspective, they get the chance to present themselves to their potential employer from the comfort of their homes and outside of office hours. Automated video interviews take the hassle out of finding your match.