Interviewing for gas station and convenience store staff

Before you can start the interview process, you need to advertise and attract the right recruits. Advertising for vacancies can be costly, and with high staff turnover rates, job adverts can become a regular expense.

Interviewing for gas station and convenience store staff

Following on from a recent blog post, “Creating a solid hiring process”, this article provides a set of downloadable interview questions along with actionable advice for independent gas station and convenience store managers who need to recruit high-performing team members into their stores.

Staff turnover is a big issue in the gas station and c-store industry. NACS reports that average turnover in 2020 was 123%, and often, employees quit without notice — leaving stores under-staffed, and staff under pressure.

Finding suitable recruits can often feel like a full-time job. But not giving recruitment the commitment and time the process deserves, can lead to periods of being understaffed, additional pressure on existing staff members, and undue stress on managers. Recruitment for your gas station is an important aspect to get right.

Attracting suitable recruits

Before you can start the interview process, you need to advertise and attract the right recruits. Advertising for vacancies can be costly, and with high staff turnover rates, job adverts can become a regular expense.

One way to keep costs down is to display a professional sign on the door to promote vacancies to customers. If you have high footfall and lots of customers coming through your  door, you’ll always have a steady stream of people who may want to apply — or tell their friends about the vacancies.

Make the application process easy. Creating an application form and having it readily available is a great way to ensure you always have a list of candidates ready for an interview whenever a vacancy comes up.

Encourage existing staff members to be welcoming to applicants to foster a warm and friendly staff culture. One of the best ways to recruit new team members is through referrals from your existing staff. Offering a referral bonus might be helpful here, but it’s not always necessary. The employees will never refer your store to a friend even if there is a potential referral bonus unless they are delighted with their work environment. That all comes down to good leadership, good people, and good processes. If you get these right, you’ll be able to rely on your team to refer new staff members, and your turnover rates will reduce.

For more information on creating a positive work culture read:

How to reduce labor costs without cutting staff

How improved customer service can drive more revenue from your gas station

The interview process

During interviews, ask the same set of questions so you can objectively compare candidates. But don’t just stick to skills-based questions. The right candidate is the person with the right attitude — not just the right skills. You can always train someone in the skills they need to complete a task but changing someone’s attitude is difficult if not impossible.

And, for the same reasons, you should score candidates not just on their answers, but on how well they articulate themselves, their body language, and their demeanor. These are telltale signs of whether the person sitting in front of you will fit in with the team and have the attitude you need to help your business succeed.

This free download will give you a set of interview questions suitable for use at a gas station or convenience store that can be tailored to the specific needs of your store.

Reducing turnover

With such high staff turnover rates in gas stations and convenience stores, some staff will inevitably leave you. But you can take steps to reduce that. Elena Lau, Kalibrate’s Client Success Manager, and former Fuel Manager at a large c-store chain talks about her own experiences:

“In my experience, new hires in the industry aren’t always onboarded properly. Most safety incidents and turnover take place in the first three months of employment. Neither of these things is ideal, but they’re easy to avoid if you take the right steps from the first day.”

Elena suggests creating a structured onboarding process for the first 90 days in which the recruit can shadow a trusted employee to help them learn the ropes. As Manager or Owner, you should also check in with the recruit regularly to ask about their impressions of the place and what their experience is like so far.

And if a staff member does leave, regardless of how long they’ve worked with you — conduct an exit interview. This is truly the best way to improve employee retention. Staff that are leaving often have a unique insight into the employee experience and can help you to identify weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.

The importance of a great team

In this industry, customers come to your store for convenience — but they come back for the experience. And you can’t offer a great experience without a great team. In the words of Richard Branson; “take care of your employees and they will take care of the clients”. Recruiting a great team in your gas station or convenience store will improve customer perception and set you apart from your competition.

Download this free interview questions template to kick start your recruitment process.

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