As a dispensary owner, when you’re hiring budtenders, you’re placing your cannabis business in a stranger’s hands. The new employee will either help your brand or hinder it, impress your customers or drive them away. Moreover, new budtenders or employees at your marijuana dispensary will also be in charge of upholding your cannabis compliance record or they could possibly let it slip into disastrous violations.
Cova has worked with hundreds of successful cannabis retailers to develop our best-in-class POS platform, and along the way, they’ve shared what works — and what doesn’t work — when asking interview questions and hiring budtenders at your dispensary. In this blog, we help you build an excellent team by sharing what not to do: the 7 mistakes of cannabis retail hiring.
Hiring Mistake #1: Overvaluing Cannabis Experience
It’s nice if your interviewee knows the difference between sativas and indicas, but in-depth strain knowledge isn’t a “must.” In fact, it can be a problem if your new hire overindulges and shows up to work intoxicated every day. Everything they say and do reflects on your brand, so hopefully they won’t be glassy-eyed when they greet and serve your clientele.
Instead, find people who are eager to learn — and not just about cannabis. No doubt, they’ll become a cannabis expert and help medical marijuana customers find the best strains as per preferences, but they’ll also master the ins and outs of dispensary retail. If they’ve held other customer service roles in the past, that’s a plus, and if they have some sales experience, that’s even better. Your budtenders’ ability to “qualify the sale” (i.e., asking lots of great questions) means more than their encyclopedic knowledge of genetics.
Hiring Mistake #2: Not Doing the Due Diligence
Maybe you’re in a rush. Or maybe a candidate looks perfect when they walk in the door. Regardless of that great first impression, going through the process of a background check is a priceless step toward assembling a solid dispensary staff — and preventing product diversion, compliance issues, and customer complaints.
Paid background checks performed by third-party services reveal obvious criminal problems, yet it’s just as important to call the applicant’s references to get a sense of their personality. Ideally, their references will sound enthusiastic. They’ll have pointed answers to your questions about the applicant's strengths and weaknesses. Truly, they may have more insights into the applicant than the applicant alone can honestly provide .
Check out the applicant's digital presence too. Facebook or Instagram can tell you more in a few quick scrolls than a pre-interview on the phone. And, of course, applicants need to be legally certified to work as a budtender at a marijuana dispensary in your jurisdiction. Ask if they are.
Hiring Mistake #3: Forgetting About Your Company Values
When you’re narrowing down your applicants, keep your mission statement and branding in mind. The new hire should represent your values. He or she might be a great choice for other reasons, such as their background as a cultivator, but if their attitude or customer service skills aren’t in line with your brand, they’re a poor choice. If you have a customer avatar or persona for your cannabis dispensary, consider whether this new applicant would be their friend.
Hiring Mistake #4: Hiring a Super-Star
A dazzling resume may be a great thing if the applicant can work well with a team. Cannabis retail is a teamwork-heavy endeavor, with multiple departments depending on one another — or falling apart into a cascade of problems.
HR managers from Fortune 500 companies want to see how an interviewee performs in the “real world,” rather than across a desk, so they take them to lunch or give them a tour of the facility. A team player will treat everyone with respect, make eye contact, and ask questions that show curiosity about the business and other people. If, while at lunch, the applicant disrespects the waiter or barges in front of other people in line, they’re probably a bad team member. When hiring entry-level budtenders, going to lunch might not be feasible, but introducing them to your dispensary staff and showing them the sales floor is definitely a good move.
Hiring Mistake #5: Asking the Wrong Interview Questions When Hiring Budtenders
We’ve all heard the question “where do you want to be in five years?” But applicants are well prepared for that type of question, or questions like “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” When asking interview questions to a budtender, these answers are important — and so is digging deeper.
Savvy hiring managers in Silicon Valley have begun asking questions like “if you were an animal, what type of animal would you be?” Or “what qualities do you value in your friends?” These questions uncover the applicants personality much better than generic questions about previous jobs or the applicant's strengths.
Ask about why they want the job and why they want to work in the cannabis industry. Their answer will tell you a lot about how serious they’re taking the responsibility and if they’re grounded in reality.
Hiring Mistake #6: Overestimating the Applicant’s Understanding of the Job
Many applicants just think it’s cool to sell weed for a living. And it is. But they need to understand that cannabis regulations are intense and that compliance comes first. Your job posting should make this clear by listing desired traits such as “attention to detail,” “organized,” “responsible,” etc.
More to the point, the job listing needs to be very clear about the responsibilities of the role — whether it’s inventory manager, shift manager, or budtender. If this isn’t clear the applicant won’t know what’s expected of them. Well-developed standard operating procedures, or SOPs, can help. Reflect on your SOPs to create the listing. That way, applicants know what they’re getting into.
Hiring Mistake #6: Not Casting a Wide Net
Posting your ad to a job board will bring you some good leads. But to get the best leads, you’ll want to cast a wider net. You can post to LinkedIn, Indeed, Cragislist, local job boards, and cannabis-specific job boards like 420 Careers. Advertise in-store, and ask your best budtenders if they have friends to refer. At this stage, the more the merrier.
Hiring Mistake #7: Being Inefficient
Once all those leads are knocking on your door, you’ll want to cull through them quickly. Dozens of 30-minute interviews will kill your productivity. And while you want to find the best of the best, there’s a better way.
A simple, ten-minute phone call can cut your interview list by 75%. You already have their resume in-hand, so use questions that reveal their background and the types of work environments they enjoy. The tone of a quick phone call can speak volumes — and save you a lot of time.
Successfully Hiring a Budtender
Congratulations! You’ve hired a rock-star team member who’ll be a great representative of your cannabis brand and a long-term asset. Now, you can make training easier with Cova dispensary POS. The Cova platform takes a lot of the compliance worries off the table and softens the learning curve for your new budtender. In fact, its intuitive interface makes training nearly automatic.
Cova designs and builds retail tech products especially for the cannabis industry. Our front-end POS is like a swiss army knife for your budtenders, providing them with critical information that accelerates their product knowledge while satisfying your customers’ preferences. That way, they can attend to your customers however they want to shop and process sales with ease.
Experience the Cova interface for yourself. Watch our real-time demo now.