Hiring casual staff: How to find the right fit for your small business
Finding a quality casual workforce is a big challenge for many small businesses, particularly when the business owner is time-poor and recruiting is only one of the many hats they must wear.

Daniel Harrison owns three Magic Hand Carwash franchises, and regularly hires casual staff to work across his three stores in Melbourne. With a wealth of experience attracting and hiring casual staff under his belt, Harrison shares some of the tools and tactics small business owners can employ to increase their chances of finding quality casual staff.

 “We wash a lot of cars, sometimes up to 100 a day, so we need a lot of casual staff members,” he says.  “But we’re not just looking for people to wash cars,” Harrison says.

“We’re looking for people who want to learn a craft and be part of a high-performing team that delivers an outstanding service for our customers.”

The job ad – make it clear and specific

Harrison says finding quality casual staff starts with writing a clear and specific job ad.

“In order to attract the most suitable applicants we pay a lot of attention to getting the wording of our job ads right, making sure we are explicit about the type of candidate we are looking for.”

“For example, we want to attract energetic team players who are able to learn new skills quickly and perform tasks to a high standard under pressure, so we use language like ‘hard working team players’, ‘carwash attendants who can deliver outstanding results’, ‘energetic and motivated staff’, ‘quick learners’.” 

It is also important to be clear about the types of tasks that will be required, so prospective casuals have a clear idea from the outset whether the job will be for them or not.

“In the case of Magic Hand Carwash, casual staff are often required to perform the same task many times over. We try to inform casuals in advance the repetitive nature of the work, so no-one gets a nasty surprise on the job.”

Finding the right casual staff isn’t always easy, Harrison says, but you can avoid headaches later if you are clear from the start.

Key things to remember when writing a job ad for casual staff:

  • Be clear and specific
  • Be explicit about the type of person you are looking for – i.e. What are the three key traits of your ideal casual?
  • Include three key selling points of the job
  • Outline key tasks the casual will do on the job
  • Include any training/induction that will be offered

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The interview – keeping your end goal in mind

One of the key things Harrison tries to establish during the interview stage is whether a person is going to be a team player or not.

“Ultimately, the success of our business relies heavily on our team working well together so it is crucial that we find out a candidate’s team work experience and ability,” Harrison says.  

When interviewing local students who don’t have work experience, Harrison instead asks about their experience playing in team sports, or how they have worked as part of a study group.

“On a Saturday, we can have a car enter and exit the drive way every 2-3 minutes throughout the day, so it is important to find out at the interview how staff will perform under pressure and whether they will work effectively with the rest of the team to get the job done.” 

Harrison also talks about possible career progression during the interview to establish whether a candidate has longer term aspirations or may be suitable for a supervisor position in the future.

 “As a national network, we have a number of career opportunities – indeed a large number of original Magic Hand Carwash franchisees began as casual employees – so it is good to have a mix of casual staff, some who have longer term prospects and some who are only interested in shorter term employment.

Getting it right from the start

There are some obvious warning signs that come out during the interview if you ask the right questions, but even the most experienced interviewer can get caught out.

“For example, one of our casual team members who showed positive signs at the interview, just couldn’t handle the repetitive nature of the work, and even after three months of doing the same task he was still unable to get it right,” Harrison says.

“It’s important to remind yourself that some jobs simply aren’t suitable for some people, so as long as you have trained your staff to the highest standard and given them all the opportunities to succeed, you can then make an honest assessment,” he says.

“My best advice to ensure you hire the right people is to be very clear on what your expectations are, both in the job advertisement and in the interview, then if things don’t work out, you have something clear to refer back to.”