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Markets May Have to Change Dress-Code Policies: Speaker

LAS VEGAS — Human resources executives responsible for hiring personnel need to determine if candidates will fit into the corporate cultures of their companies as much as whether they can do the job, according to speakers at a workshop during the National Grocers Association’s annual convention here.

Angie Dreifuerst
Angie Dreifuerst

“We hire for attitude more so than aptitude,” Angie Dreifuerst, human resources and benefits coordinator for Trig’s, Stevens Point, Wis., said. “We can always teach someone how to do a job.”

She assesses people by listening more than talking, she added. “Listening is huge, so I talk 20% of the time and let them talk 80% and see whether they answer my questions.”

Frank Ray, vice president, human resources, for Harps Food Stores, Springdale, Ark., offered similar comments. “The most important part of an interview is listening,” he said. “I prefer to listen twice as much as I talk — following the old adage that we have one mouth but two ears.”

He said he also tries to determine how job candidates will fit in on the job. “You know your culture, so your questions must relate to that,” he said.

Mary Muller
Mary Muller

Mary Muller, director of human resources for Nugget Market, Woodland, Calif., said she likes to ask potential hires what they are passionate about and how they would handle particular situations “to make sure they fit our culture.”

She said she also asks candidates to sell her something, like a pen, “because if they can think on their feet and engage someone, that tells me they will be comfortable reaching out to customers.”

Acknowledging that times are changing, the speakers said supermarkets may have to change their standards about extreme hair colors and body piercings among store employees.

“Our dress code says we will tolerate ‘no extremes,’” Ray said. “However, we give our store managers flexibility to interpret what that means — though sometimes a district manager will see something that he feels is too extreme, in which case he deals with the store manager.”

Harps allows employees to have two ear piercings, Ray noted, “but no piercings in the nose or on the tongue — nothing that might distort someone’s face. However, some women have small pieces of jewelry on the side of their noses, and we don’t consider that a big deal. Regarding hair, it’s hard to determine what is extreme.”

Frank Ray
Frank Ray

Asked about tattoos, Ray said, “We ask employees to keep them covered when they are working, or else we don’t hire those people.”

Muller said personal grooming requirements are spelled out in the agreement job applicants must sign, “so that’s something they have to agree to before they are even interviewed.”

“But we’ve relaxed some rules a bit — for example, we allow tattoos as long as they are not in bad taste.

“As for hair, we believe employees are happy to show their colors and their personalities, and that was a major compromise on our part. But employees must be well-groomed, and we see piercing as a distraction.”

Dreifuerst said Trig’s addresses dress-code policies during the interview process. “We do not allow facial piercings. Our focus is on customer service, and just as prohibiting smoking is part of customer service, so is removal of piercings, so we ask employees to remove them when they’re on-the-clock.”

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