9 Tips to Hire the Perfect Retail Store Manager

By Jasmine Glasheen

A retail store manager’s job has never been easy. But store managers in non-essential verticals face a new set of challenges. They have less job security than ever, and their daily responsibilities has never been more complicated… or more critical. 

Consumers are finally returning to spending time with the brands they know and trust, but accommodating customers in the new retail normal can be a complicated proposition. From overseeing sanitization procedures and face mask usage to updating store hours to reflect evolving regulations, it’s a challenging time to be a retail store manager. Yet it’s an even more challenging time to recruit and train the right person for the job. 

We’ve whittled our hiring guidance down to a handful actionable tips to help you recruit the perfect retail store manager (and train them correctly once you hire them). Let’s delve in. 

1. Qualifications of a retail store manager

Nothing’s worse for a retail business than hiring a store manager whose accomplishments and assets don’t exceed those of their employees. Qualifications are everything. 

As consumers start to trickle back into stores, they will expect more from store associates––which means that retail store managers need to be on their A-game to keep their team on task. 

Choose a store manager that sets a positive precedent for the rest of your staff. Be judicious in your interviewing process because the person at the helm of the ship (in this case, your store manager) sets the course for the rest of the crew. 

As for how long they’ve been working in retail? A good guideline is 2-3 years of experience at your store, or in a similar vertical with a history of excellence. 

2. The skills they need 

All too often, retailers simply hire someone they like and trust to lead their whole store, and this someone rarely has the proper qualifications. While it’s true that trust is an essential quality in retail store managers, your store won’t be a success if it’s the only positive quality of the leader you hire. Here are a few lesser-sought assets to seek out when hiring a store manager: 

  • Great communication skills, 
  • An eye for store layout,
  • Comfortable enforcing sanitization protocols,
  • Detail-oriented,
  • Intermediate math skills to handle store finances,
  • Willing to memorize product information, and 
  • Willing to require your staff to do the same.

3. How to find the best manager 

It’s always best to promote from within, and we will go into a little more detail about how to do so momentarily. But when it isn’t possible to promote internally (and it often isn’t in the retail industry), job boards such as NRF’s regular job board, Indeed, and VelvetJobs are great places to search for top-tier retail talent. 

If you post a job during COVID, also be sure to notify the National Retail Federation. They’ve created an additional list of immediately available retail jobs for retail workers displaced by the pandemic. 

4. Creating a competitive job ad

It’s a strange and competitive job market out there. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment “rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail” in May. Although many non-essential retail workers lost their jobs or were forced to go on unpaid furlough during shutdowns, some aren’t returning to work yet because of health concerns or fear of contracting the virus. 

Online job ads are one of the best ways to attract a top-tier retail store manager outside of your existing employees. They expose your ad to a wider pool of candidates. In addition, online job ads give you the opportunity to recruit a store manager with a unique skillset that complements those of your store’s existing employees. 

Here are a few tips to use when creating a job ad online:

  • Use the right keywords! There are lots of free keyword locator tools online that will ensure your ad is visible to the right candidates. 
  • Be specific about the central job tasks that will be required. Retail store manager tasks can vary quite a bit by business.  
  • Showcase your company’s personality but steer clear of insider jargon.
  • Showcase your company’s values and look for a candidate with aligned ethics. 
  • Location, location, location. Managerial candidates want to know where your company is located and how many hours they’ll be in-store.  
  • Don’t use all caps. For anything. Ever. It reads as yelling and can turn off potential job seekers. 

5. Use LinkedIn to your hiring advantage

Social recruiting is the way of the future. LinkedIn has over 690 million members and, by recruiting on LinkedIn, you can gain in-depth insight into your managerial candidates’ work history, personality, and professional network that you may not be able to access through traditional search methods. 

LinkedIn Talent Solutions offers a bevy of free resources that break down how to search for talent on the platform. LinkedIn Recruiter, on the other hand, simplifies talent searches with advanced tools and social analytics.

6. Tips for interviewing candidates

A solid job history and experience are what gets your candidate in the door, but the job interview is your opportunity to assess whether an applicant is a good culture fit for your company. Keep in mind that the interviewing process shouldn’t be one-sided. Job seekers are also looking at whether your open position is right for them, so be ready to share information about the position and give them time to ask questions. 

With that said, here are a few interview tips that are unique to retail store managers in the COVID era:

  • Look for product knowledge and passion. Are they interested in the product category you sell?
  • Ask how they plan to enforce sanitization protocols with your staff and with customers.
  • Have them list what factors can impact sales if not executed properly.
  • Ask how their unique background and talents suit your retail store manager position? 
  • Finally, ask how they deal with enforcing last minute changes. 

7. Get referrals from your network

One of the easiest ways to ensure a candidate will vibe with your existing company culture is to mine your network for qualified referrals. To do this, post about your opening on retail managerial discussion boards and send out emails to other professionals in your industry asking for recommendations. Many industries have had to lay off retail store managers, so there’s a good chance someone you already know can provide you with a highly qualified applicant.

8. Promote from within

Promoting an internal candidate is less expensive than looking for someone new and it gives your existing retail employees something to strive for. It can cause jealousy and resentment if done incorrectly, however, so let’s go over a few quick tips to make it a seamless process. 

  • The candidate you choose should always properly implement the feedback they receive in their biannual review. 
  • Seniority is a factor, but it’s not a standalone. The candidate should also be shining example of proper behavior on the sales floor. 
  • The person you promote needs to be respected by their peers within your company. Be transparent about your selection process and offer room for feedback before you make your final decision. 

9. Set benchmarks for ongoing excellence

It is way too easy just to hire a retail store manager and let them have at it, but regular check-ins are the key to ongoing professional success. They keep your managers goal-oriented and reinforce concepts––values, updates, strategies––that can get lost in the fray of their daily duties. Create measurable, reasonable goals and set a check-in schedule with reward incentives to ensure your candidate continues their top-notch performance well after the hiring process is complete!

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.