(Editor’s note: This story is part of a recurring series of commentaries from professionals connected to the cannabis industry. Holly Cowden is the founder and managing partner of Trim Force Staffing Solutions, a Las Vegas cannabis employment agency.)

Finding the right employees is one of the toughest tasks for any business owner, especially now that potential workers are hard to come by.

Many business owners are now realizing that hiring is not a minor task on a to-do list. If hiring is not handled properly and given serious attention, a business can really suffer.

This is especially true in the cannabis industry: With quality control literally in the hands of employees, hiring is one of the most important factors in a grower’s success.

Interview prep

Marijuana growers are in a truly unique situation.

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Because the legal recreational cannabis industry is so new, finding employees in an industry that hasn’t existed for very long is no easy task.

Additionally, staffing tends to be cyclical as labor needs for any particular grower follow harvest times. These periodic labor spikes make hiring and managing a workforce extremely challenging.

So how is a grower, especially one just getting started in the industry, supposed to navigate the company’s hiring needs?

The first thing to do is diligently prepare for the interview process.

With candidates scarce, this is your one shot to find the people your business needs.

However, it is also the job candidate’s opportunity to determine if a job is the right fit for them.

Being ready for an interview can help determine if the candidate has the critical skills needed while making sure to put the company’s best foot forward.

When interviewing a potential employee, do you use a set of predetermined questions in order to help find the best candidate?

If the answer is no, this could be a mistake as well as a missed opportunity.

Question guidelines

Here are some basic rules to follow:

As often as possible, avoid asking close-ended questions that require a yes or no response.

Open-ended questions can prompt a candidate to talk and engage in a conversation by requiring them to offer more detail and demonstrate their communication skills.

This gives the interviewer a better chance to evaluate a candidate’s personality.

Behavior-based questions focus on how an interviewee handled work situations in the past, which can reveal a candidate’s judgment and decision-making skills.

Past behavior can provide reflection, predict future behavior and highlight if someone has the necessary qualifications and/or temperament for the job.

Sample questions

So, what is the best way to know if the person interviewing for an open position is the best candidate?

Below is a good cross section of sample questions you can put into practice.

Want someone who is a team player or works well on their own? Try:

  • Describe the work environment in which you will be able to contribute the most.
  • What kind of oversight and interaction would your ideal boss provide?

Find out why the candidate is looking for a new job:

  • What prompted you to apply for this job?
  • What interested you most about this position?

Work history-related questions:

  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • What did you like or dislike about your previous job?

What they think of themselves/what can they offer your business:

  • If your previous co-workers were here, what would they say about you?
  • What have you learned from mistakes on the job?

Find out how much they want to work at your company by asking company-related questions:

  • Are you familiar with the products we sell? What do you know about them?
  • Explain how you would be an asset to this organization.

How much understanding do they have about the job you are hiring for?

  • Do you understand the main responsibility required of the job?
  • What have you done in the past that is relatable to the position you’ve applied for?

Find out how much they know about the industry:

  • Have you worked in the cannabis industry before?
  • What attracts you to the cannabis industry?

To find out how the candidate would act in various situations, there are scenario-based questions:

  • What would you do if you caught a co-worker stealing?
  • Tell me a conflict you had with a co-worker and how it was resolved.

Discover if they’re thinking about a future in the industry:

  • That age-old interview question: Where do you see yourself in five years?

These are just a few questions that can help to determine if a potential employee is a good fit for your business.

However, don’t hesitate to ask about specific skills that will help determine if a person is qualified.

Above all, the key is to be prepared.

While there is no guarantee that utilizing these interview tactics will find employees who meet all your needs, putting in some preparation can only help to build a dependable, capable and, most importantly, motivated team that will in turn help with the overall success of your business.

Holly Cowden can be reached at holly@trimforcestaffing.

The previous installment of this series is available here.

To be considered for publication as a guest columnist, please submit your request to editorial@mjbizdaily.com with the subject line “Guest Column.”