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Twelve Tips of Seasonal Hiring (Part 2)

December 18, 2014

To read Part 1 of our Twelve Tips of Seasonal Hiring blog series, click here

hiring-candidateAs we have mentioned before, this time of the year is BUSY. However, just because you are short on time does not mean you should save time by hiring every candidate that comes across your desk. You still want to ensure you are hiring the best of the best especially during the busiest time of the year! As we know, recruiting that top candidate can take some time.

Tip number five is to streamline the screening process

Sorting through applications to determine what candidates meet your criteria for a seasonal position can be overwhelming; especially during a season when you just don’t have time to spare. To make your screening process more efficient, you can move your application online. Online applications are easier to filter and search through than paper applications, and they take up a lot less space! Applicants without computer or internet access at home can also complete these applications at a public library, employment office, or even onsite at your organization.

To increase the utility of your online application, you may want to include “knockout” questions. These questions are designed to narrow the candidate pool so you can focus on candidates who meet your specific needs and fit with the work environment/tasks at hand. For example, there may be specific shifts or hours that you need seasonal hires to work.  To quickly identify who would be available for that particular shift, you might include a question like this:

What shifts are you willing to work? (Check all that apply)

  • Weekdays (Monday – Friday, 8am-6pm)
  • Weeknights (Monday – Friday, 6pm – 2am)
  • Overnight (Monday – Friday, 2am-8am)
  • Weekends (Saturday & Sunday, anytime)

By including a variety of shifts, you can see easily filter by candidates who are willing to work the shifts you are hiring for. Ensuring candidates meet these types of requirements at the start saves you from wasting time during a phone screen or interview. It also saves your organization from wasting costs on assessments and other selection steps, only to find out the person doesn’t meet a basic requirement.

Keep your selection process consistent is our sixth tip for you.

It may be tempting to skip certain selection process steps when you’re hiring seasonal help or temp workers in favor of a condensed hiring period. However, this may cause headaches down the road. First, consider that your goal is to hire quality individuals to perform an important function in your organization. It’s likely the work duties and tasks are the same or very similar to those of your permanent employees. It makes sense then for temporary workers to have the same skills and qualifications as your permanent hires, which means you need to vet them through the same selection steps – from the application, to any assessments, and through structured interviews. It just doesn’t make sense to hire someone without knowing if they can actually meet the need you have, and importantly, if they’ll work well your team of existing employees.

Second, there may be a case where you’d like a seasonal or temporary worker to rollover to a permanent position. It’s a lot easier to do this when they’ve already gone through your hiring process, and it’s a matter of filling out some additional paperwork. Frustration and inconsistency creep in when you have an “amazing temp” who fails a part of your process, whether that’s a background check or a pre-hire assessment. We know from research that applicants have very different test motivations and response patterns, so existing employees don’t always score as well on the same tests as applicants. Additionally, some seasonal workers are extremely motivated to do well on the job just to earn that permanent position; once they’ve got it, they loosen up a bit and their true colors shine through. These situations aren’t helpful for anyone, and cause a lot more grief than necessary. We recommend you avoid these scenarios in the first place by vetting seasonal hires and temps through your typical, standard, permanent hire process from the start.

As you interview temporary staff you want to be realistic about future opportunities for direct hire. This is our seventh tip for you.

If you have the ability to hire temporary staff on full-time, tell individuals that throughout the interview process. You want them to know that this is a “trial period”. You can let individuals know that it is a two way street; you not only want to ensure that they are a great employee, but as an employee you want them to WANT to work for your organization and that they can see a future with your company. Letting employees know that there is potential for a full-time job can be a big motivator to do a great job.

On the same level, if there is not a possibility to have employees come on full-time – be HONEST. There is nothing worse, than stringing on an employee for months and then you tell them, “Oh, sorry it is not in the budget.” Giving potential employees a realistic job preview and accurate/honest information about expectations will reflect well on your business as far as candidates’ perception, as well as help identify candidates that align with your expectations and business plans. Employees will respect the fact that you are being honest and understand what the expectations are. Again, it’s important to remember that your employees may be your current and future customers. You want to make sure they have a great experience working for you!

Our eighth tip for you is to make sure your staffing agency is following your guidelines/best practices.

It is important to have an open dialogue with your staffing agency, as they may be the first impression a candidate receives of your company. You want them to be an extended arm of your company, able to speak about your company and the position just like your recruiters would. Candidates should not have a different experience just because you are using a staffing agency. To give staffing agencies the resources they need, be sure to share your company’s culture, vision, and mission so they have an overall picture of who you’re looking for AND the image you’d like to present. Let them know specifics of how and when to communicate with candidates—for example, what message should “rejected” candidates receive? Once a position is filled, what communication should the remaining applicants receive? For candidates still in the selection process, what is your desired timeline for each recruitment step, and what messages should candidates receive during that process? These are all important questions to talk through with your staffing agency; the more specific, detailed information you give them, the better able they are to present your company in the best light.

Additionally, your staff agency should know your guidelines and best practices. Your A candidates should also be their A candidates. Beyond the education, experience, and any physical requirements of the job, you’ll want to brief the staffing agency on your company’s competency model, or the competencies and skills you’re looking for at each level and within each position of the organization. For example, you might want to highlight Attention to Detail, Teamwork, and Work Ethic for all your entry-level positions. It’s important for your staffing agency to know this, so they can look for those qualities during phone screens and interviews. It might be a good idea to practice calibrating candidates with the recruiters at the agency in order to make sure you’re all appraising resumes and rating candidate responses in the same way. We’d also recommend providing the staffing agencies with tangible materials for reference later, that way new hires at the staffing agency can get up to speed quickly with your recruiting preferences. Overall, you want to ensure that you can trust your staffing agency; they are there to make your life easier!

To read part 3 of our seasonal hiring tips blog series, click here.

Also contributing to this article are two of our consultants - Jason Frizzell and Meghan Flick.

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Bekah Regan Bekah Regan is a Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She provides client support across many different industries including retail, manufacturing, technology and healthcare. Her areas of expertise include developing selection tools and interview guides, providing training and support for PSI’s applicant tracking system, as well as assisting clients with requests and questions regarding tools and processes.