Retailing 123: How to Find the Right Part-Time Employees

Part-time, seasonal employees can make or break your selling season. Your customers expect a great retail shopping experience from your store or facility, whether it is provided by you, a full-time employee or part-time seasonal help.

Here are some best practices we’ve learned over the years from our clients and from living and working in retail environments where part-time summer employees are often the only way local businesses can make it through the season.

* Job Application: Make sure you have one for applicants to fill out, and make sure it provides a complete picture of an applicant’s background and expectations for a part-time seasonal job, and the information needed to do a background check.

* Job Descriptions: These should accurately and completely describe each position in your business, and that you require part-time employee to not just fill the position, but to embrace and fulfill.

* Interview Process: Don’t hire part-time employees without an interview process that includes no less than two interviews. Also, don’t hire based on gut-feel.  Establish a process that asks questions about the potential part-timer’s customer-service attitudes and expectations. If face-to-face interviews aren’t possible, you can use Skype or a similar system to interview applicant. Just make sure you can look them in the eye.

* Online Assessments: For an affordable price, small to mid-size businesses can use pre-interview assessments and post first-interview assessments of part-time applicants. At a minimum we recommend an online customer service assessment for all part-time applicants who will be touching your customers in any way. You’ll receive a report, often the same day, that let’s you know if the applicant is hard-wired to perform a customer-service related job or not, and provides coaching tips for education and training after you hire.

* Employee Manual and Operating Manual: Spell out exactly how you want the business to be run and what you expect from part-time employees concerning the level of customer service employees provide, and the shopping experience you expect your retail store to deliver. Both manuals become the textbooks for educating and training part-time employees.

* Educate and Train: Make sure you train part-time seasonal employees as if they are full-time employees, starting as soon as they report for work. During the peak summer season, it is hard to conduct regular staff education sessions, but consistently meeting to educate and reinforce your retail customer-service standards and just as importantly answering questions and guiding staff behavior is essential to the success of your part-time employees.


* Be Mentors and Teachers: Full-time employees and managers need to be mentors and teachers, and every part-time employee should be assigned and supervised by a qualified manager or seasoned employee.

Part-time seasonal employee education and training “hot spots” include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Cell phone use and texting: All employees should turn off their cell phones during working hours and place them in their lockers. Cell phones may only be used during scheduled breaks in the store break room or outside the store.
  • Dress and name tag: All employees must conform to the store dress code and wear their name tags at all time while on the clock.
  • Music: Employees should not to listen to music on digital, electronic or other devices while on the clock. Personal music may be listened to using earphones or similar devices during scheduled breaks in the store break room or outside the store only.
  • Language: Words that are in common use by some generations, especially younger folks, may be deemed inappropriate or even offense by other generations that may be your store’s customers. Employees need to be courteous and aware of ther language at all times—not just when they’re working, but also during scheduled breaks and at any time that they are within hearing of customers.

It’s all about customers and shoppers. Every employee represents your store brand in the eyes of customers and you are the representative of your store when you are wearing your store brand and name tag. Be courteous, friendly and responsive to customers and fellow employees at all times, and remember a smile goes a long way toward welcoming shoppers and making them comfortable in your store.

It’s all about the customers, and your mission is to provide an extraordinary retail shopping experience every time.