The Right Approach to the Interview is Critical when Filling Loss Prevention Job Openings

The success of your department greatly hinges on the ability to make the right hiring decisions when filling your loss prevention job openings; and that process begins with you. Each of us tends to develop our own interview style when hiring talent based on training and experience, our own personal preferences, and the guidelines established by our leadership and the organization. Yet developing an interview style that asks the right questions—and reveals the right answers—is a process that requires planning and practice as well as a flexible approach to the conversation.

Whatever the style or method, the ultimate goal remains the same: Identify the best candidates and bring them to your team. Recognizing the attributes that lead to quality hiring decisions will enhance the value of each new hire and improve the quality and performance of your entire department.

Once we have selected a pool of candidates that we believe are best qualified to compete for our loss prevention job openings, we expect those candidates to come into the interview prepared to discuss their talents and abilities, and convince us that they are the one best fit to fill our hiring needs. However, it is just as important that we are prepared for the conversation and take the necessary steps to make sound, intelligent, and well-informed decisions. Self-preparation is an essential aspect of the hiring process, and can be critical in helping us to select the best candidate.

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Developing an interview style requires looking beyond the questions that are asked, and implementing an approach that gives us the means to make informed decisions during the hiring process:

  • Our first objective is to make sure that we know what we’re looking for. We need to determine the competencies and behaviors that are most critical to the position, as well as other qualities that may add value to the role. This may include looking beyond core qualifications and considering other talents (or lack thereof) that have impacted past performance within a particular role.
  • It’s just as important to understand that there is a distinct difference between knowing what we are looking for, and knowing what we want. We don’t hire qualifications—we hire people. Loss prevention is a very diverse field where candidates can come from a variety of different backgrounds, different strategies, different approaches, different priorities, different philosophies and different training. As a result, we must enter the interview with the proper frame of mind. Although we will typically enter the process having established our ideal candidate, we must be flexible enough to understand that our goal is to hire the best fit—for the position, for the company and for the department.
  • Avoid the tendency to simply look for candidates that fit neatly into your ideal mold, or those that have the ability to “hit the ground running.” Look at the entire package that the candidate is offering, to include their energy and enthusiasm, flexibility, opportunities and potential as well as the experience listed on a job resume. As a leader there is a responsibility to develop talents and abilities. While it’s important to have experience on your team, we don’t want a team full of individuals that have reached a career plateau without the capability or desire to grow. Find a balance that will allow your entire team to continue to move forward.
  • Every candidate has developmental opportunities. Looking for those opportunities early on and determining whether these traits can be modified, eliminated, or managed on will help in the decision making process; but also helps establish a barometer for development and growth throughout the life of the professional relationship.
  • It’s difficult to get the right answers if you don’t ask the right questions. “Tell me a little about yourself” is a good place to start, but we should also focus the interview by preparing questions that lead to the answers necessary to make the right hiring decisions. Think through your questions so that you can best measure the responses.
  • The resume itself sets a critical tone for the conversation. Review the document prior to your conversation with the candidate. Take note of the approach that the candidate takes to their accomplishments as well as their qualifications and experience. Look for ways to best explore the candidate’s professional attitudes and behaviors as well as their experience to draw a better view of their overall capabilities.
  • When conducting the interview, it’s just as important to look beyond the resume. While the resume can certainly be an important indicator on many different levels, the interview itself is much more indicative of an individual’s particular skill sets. The resume is merely a starting point. The interview should delve much deeper into the person than what is presented on paper.
  • When asking questions focused on competencies, critical behaviors and expected circumstances, ask the candidate to give real-life examples (For example: “Tell me about a time when…”). Ask how they faced the given circumstance, how they responded, and what the outcome was. Consider situations that the person will encounter in the position for which they are interviewing. Take the conversation beyond the typical “black and white” answers. We should have a feel for the candidate’s behaviors, character, critical thinking skills, work ethic and decision making abilities as well.
  • Most of us tend to like people who are like us, which can also lead to hiring people who are like us. But individual and professional diversity can add tremendous value to your team in many different ways. New hires should serve to complement our team and fill out potential gaps, not simply clone our current makeup.
  • Be aware of the potential tendency to over-think your decisions. Although we want to make strong hires and avoid potential mistakes, there are no perfect candidates. Most of the time, the process will lead you to the right choice. Trust the process.

When filling your loss prevention job openings, keep in mind that bad hiring decisions can have lasting effects on your team, your goals and your successes. It therefore becomes critical that during the interview process we take the time to do it right. Develop a style that leads you to the answers that you’re looking for. Avoid making “warm body” hires, and make the right decision the first time.

For more tips on the hiring process and how to hire the most talented professionals, read the LP Magazine article “Learning to Hire Talent is Key to a Successful Loss Prevention Career.”


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