Five Steps to Successful Christmas Recruitment

by David Barrett, Chief Operating Officer of global assessment specialist cut-e.

In the run-up to Christmas, the retail and hospitality sectors will be recruiting additional staff to cope with the increased seasonal demand in high street shops, department stores, supermarkets, hotels, bars and restaurants. There will be no shortage of applicants. Almost everyone is eligible for these seasonal roles, so how can you be sure that you’ll recruit the right people?


Many candidates will ‘walk in’ asking for a job. This presents you with a great opportunity to build a positive relationship with them at the outset. But you’ll have to act quickly. A good candidate may have already walked into several other places and they’re likely to take the first position they’re offered.

Two things are important here. Firstly, you have to assess whether each applicant is really right for the role. Your customers will invariably receive a bad service if you appoint the wrong people. Secondly, the candidate will probably be a customer of yours. They may have contacted you because they like your brand and your values. This means that it matters how you treat them. Get this wrong and they might vent their frustration by boycotting your brand. Worse still, they might tell their family and friends about their bad experience – and through social media they can reach a lot of people! You could then lose all the revenue that those people would’ve generated over their lifetime.

Five steps can help you address these challenges and ensure you recruit the best people:

1. Data-informed job analysis. In-depth job analysis and role profiling studies will reveal the competencies and qualities you want in new recruits. Knowing what good – and bad – looks like in full-time, part-time and seasonal roles will help you to understand what you should be assessing, where you should target your training interventions and what ‘in-role experiences’ you need to provide.

2. Mobile-enabled pre-assessment. A realistic job preview (RJP) is a short, interactive ‘self evaluation’ assessment which sits on your careers website. It showcases the realities of the role and helps potential applicants to decide if the job and the culture of your organisation are a good fit for them. If your RJP is mobile-enabled, you can ask walk-in applicants to go through it on-site and self-assess their own suitability.

3. On-the-spot initial applications. If the job is of interest to a walk-in candidate, after they’ve been through your RJP, they can find a quiet place and complete a situational judgement test, some quick psychometric assessments and a short video interview. You can also complete a ‘right to work’ check, to see if they are eligible to work in Ireland. All of this can be automated and integrated with your Applicant Tracking System. Their ‘initial application’ can then be uploaded to head office and approved (or not approved) within 15 minutes. The store or venue manager can then interview them for a final check. This is a quick and very efficient process which enables you to respond rapidly and screen all applicants effectively. It also delivers a positive candidate experience, as people feel they’re being recognised, treated fairly and quickly progressed.

4. Incentives for applying. Some retail and hospitality firms are now enhancing their candidate experience by offering reward points or loyalty discounts to applicants who take their realistic job preview. The reward could be as simple as a free coffee or a discount off a future purchase – and/or it could involve offering career advice to help the individual to find a role that is better suited to them in the future.

5. Empathic rejection. Your candidates will find rejection easier to take if you can explain why you’re turning them down. By providing an engaging application process – and a positive rejection process – you can retain unsuccessful candidates as customers. You may even boost customer loyalty: if an applicant isn’t already a customer, they might want to become one.

Ultimately, the secrets of successful retail and hospitality recruitment are to treat each candidate with care and to utilise technology to make your selection process as quick and easy as possible.

Categories: Recruitment

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