How to Hire (Or Get Hired) for the Holidays

As the winter season approaches, retailers will be hiring for the holidays to get extra help to manage operations. As employers start their holiday hiring strategy, they’ll plan a budget for extra dedicated, hard-working staff members to keep up with the hoard of shoppers that may come their way.

As an employer, it’s important to be frank and upfront about seasonal expectations and timelines for your small business. As a job seeker, it’s important to sell your skills just as much as you would for a full-time position. Part-time work can bring you the experience you need for your long-term goals, and it could also potentially bring you opportunities for full-time positions at the company you temporarily work for. Here are five tips for both employers and job seekers on how to interview for a seasonal job.

Tips for hiring seasonal employees:

  1. Start hiring now.

If your busiest months are in November and December, you don’t want to start your holiday hiring then. Posting employment opportunities in September or October gives you a leg up on the competition as more qualified candidates will see your postings first and come to you for an employment opportunity. It also helps you better prepare for the upcoming holiday months by ensuring you have hired enough people to help with sales, customer service or even marketing strategies.

  1. Be honest.

When you’re interviewing a potential employee, be honest with them. Let them know this position has a hard end date. If there isn’t much of a possibility for a full-time position to become available to them in the near future, inform them of that. However, if you’re able to, let them know that if they work with you and show their dedication, you’ll hold their résumé on file for future hiring opportunities after the holidays are over. Being upfront and honest from the start will help both you and the job seeker find the best opportunities.

  1. Encourage training for seasonal hires.

Some job seekers might worry they won’t be fully trained for a seasonal position. It’s important to remember that every position, full-time or part-time, needs adequate onboarding and training to ensure your operations run smoothly. Even if they’ll be employed for only a few months, not fully understanding how to complete their job will cause problems for you in the long-run. It could even lead to higher turnover rates, which isn’t good for your small business.

  1. Ask behavioral questions.

With any potential hire, you want to ensure they can perform their duties well, especially during high-stress periods. Ask the interviewee to give examples of a time when they had to deal with a crisis quickly and what they learned from that experience. You can also give them scenarios and see how they answer. For example, ask them what they would do if a customer came into the store irate about a non-refundable product. How would they handle being yelled at or talked down to? Encourage them to be honest with their answers.

  1. Perform a test run.

If you can, see if they can come in during a busy hour or two to do a quick test run. Have them perform or shadow various tasks (running the register, restocking, handling customer service, etc.) they may perform during their temporary employment with you. This can help show you how well they interact with other employees, adapt to the business’s culture, interact with customers and adapt to stressful situations. It also benefits the employee-to-be because it shows them exactly what they’d be dealing with during the bustling holiday season.

Tips for acing a seasonal job interview:

  1. Tell them your plans.

Some businesses grow when they see dedicated part-time employees and promote them to full-time once financing is available. If you apply for a seasonal job but don’t express how you hope to continue working with the business – either by working seasonally again, continuing to look for employment or otherwise – then they’ll have little interest in considering keeping you on for longer terms. Remember that everyone starts somewhere, so don’t dismiss a part-time gig as non-beneficial to your long-term goals.

  1. Express your future career goals.

This might be a part-time gig, but it’s still a job nonetheless. Go into details concerning your background, what you hope to gain from this experience and where you hope your career path takes you. Employers may remember this and keep your résumé on file should a full-time position open in the future. If you get hired, show them your hard work and dedication. This will make you stand out even more when full-time positions become available.

  1. Show them you’re interested.

Some employees want to know why you’d want to work in a temporary position that is unlikely to extend to full-time. To win the employee over, express your interest in the business, what you can offer, why you want to offer it to them and what experiences you hope to receive from this position. If you can, explain how you can align it with your ultimate career goals. However, if you can’t find a way to do so, be honest with them. Let them know you’re a hard worker and in need of a quick side hustle to gain some extra cash.

  1. Show them you know them.

A key to any good interview is doing your research on the company. Familiarize yourself with its products, services and how it helps its consumers. Follow them on their social media channels and read any press mentions regarding the business. If you can, try to visit one (or possibly more) of their brick-and-mortars to get a sense of the company’s culture. By getting to know a company, you’re already a step ahead of other job seekers. You’ll have a better understanding of what they do, how they do it and how to adapt with other employees, making onboarding and training an easier, and potentially quicker, process.

  1. Let them know your schedule.

Employers are looking for seasonal workers they can count on. If they require a lot of hours that you know you can’t fully commit to, let them know from the start. This gives you a better chance of getting hours that work for you or you may realize the fit isn’t right for you or the company. It’s better to figure this out now rather than getting fired for not being able to commit to the schedule the business needs.

During the holiday season, your retail business will need extra help, and there are plenty of job seekers looking for extra cash. Hiring part-time employees doesn’t have to be a hassle. Ensure you’re clear on what you’re looking for, what responsibilities will be required from them and how long the employment will last. If you’re a job seeker, ensure you treat this the same as a full-time position. With these tips, both employers and seekers can fill and nab those part-time holiday spots.

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