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Community Relations: Interviewing Job Applicants

Sometimes the resumés that cross your desk are random, but sometimes they are specific to your store from people who are also customers.  In a busy world we tend to ignore the first type, but with the second group — and some would argue this should apply to all job applicants — it’s good public relations to do some kind of personal follow up, by email, phone or even in person. (You never know when you might have an opening even if right now that seems unlikely.)

If you think the individual is someone whose information you would like to keep on file, be honest that there’s nothing open right now, but then ask them if they’d like to complete an application form anyway. This separates people who have a casual interest from people who would really love to work in your bookstore environment.

It’s been awhile since we ran this, but here’s a screening process we send out by email that appeared here many years ago.  Because we once had three stores, we used this extensively, and in the last 18 years have employed 45 people — not including inventory help — in four different locations.

Searchlight Pre-Interview Questionnaire

(1) We hire mostly from our customer base. So….read any good books lately? What are some recent or classic Christian titles that mean a lot to you?

(2) What other Christian bookstores have you enjoyed shopping at?

(3) We sell a variety of styles of music. How do you feel about selling a Christian rock CD to a teenager with facial piercings and purple hair?

(4) What are your feelings about the variety of Bible translations on the market? Would you be open to selling the various types we carry?

(5) Do you own or have you used Bible reference materials such as a Concordance or Bible Dictionary or Bible computer software?

(6) If someone walked in and ask you to, would you be comfortable praying with someone in the store?

(7) If the cash register fails, are you comfortable completing a transaction manually in a sales books, with different rates of tax?

(8) Skill-testing question re. the above: If books are subject to 5% GST, and CDs are subject to 5% GST and 8% PST, and there is no tax at all on gift certificates, what is the total sale amount on the following: a $20 book, a $20 CD and a $20 Gift Certificate?

(9) We refer people to a variety of local churches depending on their story. Are you familiar with the worship patterns of a few different denominations and comfortable recommending a church to someone even if it’s not your personal first choice?

(10) Since our staff are basically, “working for peanuts” do you feel a sense of calling to this type of ministry that would override financial considerations?

(11) While human rights legislation prevents limiting applicants on the basis of faith, is there anything in your personal faith journey that you feel would be helpful for us to know, given the nature of the store and its customers, or part of your own faith story you wish to tell?

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