Each year local businesses take in seasonal employees to cover busy shifts during periods of high demand. An annual survey released by Snagajob found 70 percent of employers in the retail and restaurant industries expect to have their summer positions filled by the end of May. “This year’s survey indicates a lot of summer opportunity for hourly job seekers, but growing challenges for hourly employers,” says Peter Harrison, chief executive officer of Snagajob.

With growing scrutiny over on-call scheduling and increased minimum wages looming, local business owners will be challenged to make smarter hiring decisions when screening seasonal applicants. Since seasonal hiring is more than filling your schedule, you’ll also need to hire reliable candidates who will commit to representing your business in a positive way.

Here are 8 tips to help you screen seasonal candidates and make effective hiring decisions.


1. Plan recruitment efforts. As noted by Monster.com, “the big months for hiring are January and February, and late September and October.” By beginning in late winter or early fall, you can ensure you get first dibs on talented candidates.

2. Leverage current employees to help you recruit. While you may get tons of applicants from walk-ins or job boards, employee and customer referrals tend to be more reliable. A referred candidate is not only faster to onboard, but also less of a burden on your labor costs.

3. Don’t overlook mature applicants. Many stay-at-home Moms, retired seniors, and adults seek seasonal employment to supplement their income. “An experienced worker may be able to come in and mentor younger employees to help get them up to speed”, says Sharon Kropf of MGO Strategic Staffing. This means you can get someone with extensive work experience for an entry-level rate.

4. Don’t assume seasonal hires won’t be back next year. If a seasonal employee shows early promise, it is a good idea to monitor their performance and then gauge their availability for higher commitment to the role. A great place to start gauging their interests is in the interview. Having a list of questions and a screening form will help you identify the right candidates.

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5. Look for potential employees who can keep a positive attitude. Seasonal service industry roles require workers to engage customers in tense situations. While having experience and an advanced skill set is a plus, many times a candidate who is upbeat, personable and has a flexible schedule will bring more to the table.

6. Make sure new hires are ready to hit the ground running. When was the last time a customer was okay with poor service due to poor training? Taking time to fully train a seasonal employee is a worthwhile investment.

Read our 10 tips to successfully onboard new employees

7. Don’t forget — seasonal employees must be given the same rights as their full-time counterparts. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), this includes minimum wage and overtime pay. Similarly, seasonal employees are also covered by laws concerning discrimination, harassment, and workplace health and safety. If you’re unfamiliar with these guidelines concerning seasonal employees, the SBA has a handy Employment and Labor Law Guide for your reference.

8. Lastly, don’t underestimate the impact of seasonal hires. Many managers tend to view seasonal employees as simple schedule fillers. However, failing to recognize that they will represent your company to the public and your customers for several months is a mistake. Consider the impact they can have on your customers’ experiences, and keep this in mind throughout the hiring process.


Hiring the right seasonal employees will keep you one step ahead of your competition. Your local business will be prepared for the increased traffic, and your seasonal candidates will know how to represent your business in tense situations.

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