I’ve said before that employees are likely your most valuable asset.  Having the right staff is key to the success of your cannabusiness.  Oftentimes they are the first contact that your customer has with your company whether it be on the phone or in person.  It’s crucial that you hire the right people and there are ways to assure that you get the right people the first time, or at least increase the odds.

How to find that right person?  Fortunately, the cannabis industry attracts plenty of people.  Some of these people are well qualified, others are not.  Finding the right people requires some work and research on your part.

First, let’s talk about hiring that “friend of a friend”.  It happens often, probably even more so in a cannabis business.  A friend or relative says they know someone who would be really great.  You may feel strong pressure to hire them but working with a friend or relative can be tricky.  It’s difficult to have a frank discussion with that person about their performance.  You don’t want to be hampered by concerns that a personal relationship may be compromised if you are honest and forthright with your employee.

When getting ready to hire a new staff person, think about the job description and requirements for the position.  Will he/she be working with the public, do you want them to have retail experience, are you willing to train someone who is new to the industry?  If you don’t have these things worked out in your mind or better yet, on paper, the odds decrease that you will make a good hiring choice.  A formal job description is not required but some kind of documentation as to what you need is pretty important.

Whether you advertise for staff, they come to you directly or are referred from a friend, you need some basic information about that person.  Usually this comes in the form of a resume, but not everyone will have a resume ready to go.  If not, at a minimum, you need a job application form for them to complete.  This will give you basic information about the person’s education, military service, work experience and so forth.  There are many templates online for job apps, or you can design one of your own.  Don’t try to do an initial evaluation of someone without this tool, even if it is a friend or former co-worker.

When reviewing resumes or job applications, think about how each applicant’s education or experience might be an asset when performing the job for which they’ve applied.  If you have run an ad for the job, there’s a good chance you will end up with a large number of applicants.  If so, take a quick look through all of them one time through, and eliminate those that do not meet the qualifications you have set for the position.  Then go through the ones that are left a second time, this time looking for specific experience that you think would lend well to the position you’re trying to fill.  Narrow this group down to no more than five.  Rank these five in order from first to last, as far as who you think is most appropriate.  Then set interviews for the first three.

The interview is the most important part of the hiring process.  While it’s an opportunity to get more information about the applicant’s experience, it is your chance to get to know the candidate and see how they will fit into your organization.  I’ve been in many interviews where the interviewer does the bulk of the talking, telling the applicant about the job and the organization.  At the end of the interview, the applicant has learned a ton but the person hiring has learned very little about the person they potentially want to hire.  Give your applicant a summary of the position, and a quick overview of your organization, then ask them questions that will draw them out, encouraging them to tell you about themselves.  Be careful of the questions you ask; some questions could put you in a precarious legal situation.  Questions that relate to ethnicity, religion, politics, age, sex, and disability are ill advised.

The last step in the hiring process is to check their references.  Don’t skip this step unless you have personal experience working with this person.  Personal references are okay, but they won’t tell you much about the applicant’s work ethic or skills.  Instead, call their former employers.  Depending on the company, you may not get any more information than the dates they worked there, but sometimes, if you find the right person, you can get a lot more.  I always ask if they are eligible for rehire.  I often will tell the reference what job I want this person to do, or what traits I am looking for, and ask them how they think this person will fit in.  You can learn a lot from a previous employer.  Don’t miss the opportunity to glean what you can about a potential employee.

The hiring process can be fun.  It’s a chance for you to change the dynamic of your company, especially if you are a fairly small business.  New blood can provide new energy for you and those you work with.  Finding that “just right” person to enhance your company is an important part of what you do.  Give the process the attention it needs to grab a future star for your company.