The cannabis industry is still relatively new in many states, so there are plenty of opportunities for you as a business owner to make your way into this blossoming market. Whether you are collecting best practices for your future cannabis business or have already started your operations (congratulations and best of luck in that case!), you’re here because you want to know the best dispensary interview questions.
The whole process, starting with reading through candidate CVs and ending with hiring somebody for the job, is long and challenging, and it typically goes through a few stages.
To ensure an unbiased hiring process that gives an equal opportunity to every candidate, experts recommend that you use the blind hiring technique when sourcing candidates. The blind hiring process hides candidates’ personal details and only leaves experience and skills for recruiters and hiring managers to see when picking candidates they want to interview.
If you don’t think blind hiring is the best option for you, that shouldn’t be a problem. Try to keep an open mind when sourcing through the talent pool. Remember that cannabis is still a growing industry and that you may not find too many candidates with extensive experience.
You are ready to start interviewing when you are sure that you picked potential candidates for their skills and qualifications or simply because you liked their profile and think they could fit into your team. Maybe a person who hasn’t worked at a dispensary before but has experience with cannabis turns out to be a better candidate for your business than someone with a few years of dispensary experience. It’s up to you.
Maybe your company will be the one that will bring a new person into the cannabis job market that already employed around half a million people in 2021. But to do that, you need to be confident you can choose the right person. We can assist by offering some dispensary interview questions tailored to help you assess your candidates.
What Are the Typical Dispensary Interview Questions?
The questions you will ask when interviewing candidates for your dispensary are crucial for learning more about your potential future employees. You should ask about their prior work experience, especially if you are looking for an experienced employee. But, you should also just have a conversation with the candidate to see the kind of person they are. Personality matters too.
Ultimately, you want to assess if they are a good fit for your company, and you can only do that if you ask the right questions and listen carefully. It’s a bit redundant to ask questions about something you can read from a candidate’s CV. But, if you feel that you need more information about an experience or skill listed in the CV, you can ask the candidate to elaborate on it.
After that, you will need to summarize your impressions during the interviews and decide which candidates you would like to see in the next round.
Let’s look at the questions you should consider asking your candidates and what you can expect to learn from them:
General Interview Questions
General questions should help you get to know the person a little better before you start talking about the specific position they are interviewing for with your company. For example, you can ask the candidate to tell you something about themselves, like their hobbies and interests or how their education prepared them for their first employment.
The first few minutes of the interview are also a time when you can inquire about the candidate’s beginnings in the cannabis industry. You could ask something like:
- What attracted you to the cannabis industry?
- Are you comfortable with talking about cannabis?
- What do you think is your greatest career accomplishment so far?
That should give you a general idea about how they feel about the industry and even the kind of person they are, mainly if they appear to be introverted or extroverted. Remember that there are no right or wrong answers, and this part should give you an idea of how to approach the candidate for the remainder of the interview.
Questions About Professional Background and Experience
Unless you are specifically looking for an experienced person to fill the open position, not all the candidates you interview will have experience in the cannabis industry. However, they might have proper education, passion, and attitude for the job, so you shouldn’t discard someone that easily.
If you are interviewing a candidate with prior experience working at a dispensary, another type of cannabis, or any other company, here are some questions you can consider asking:
- What were your responsibilities in the previous position?
- What did you learn in your previous roles that could help you here?
- What were some challenges you had in your last job? How did you overcome them?
- How familiar are you with the laws and regulations regarding cannabis in this state?
These questions should help you assess how much their prior work experience prepared them for the new role they could be assuming at your dispensary. They are not too specific to any particular job but should give you some insight into the candidate’s professional background and skills.
When looking to hire a store manager, you might want to inquire about some technical details about their previous employment or specific situations they had to handle in their role:
- How big were the stores and teams you managed before?
- What store management systems or software did you use in your previous job(s)?
- Did you ever have any troubles with the employees you were managing?
- How do you handle difficult people?
Budtenders might have also had some teaching moments in their career you can ask about:
- Did you have any uncomfortable situations with customers?
- What did you learn from the experience?
These are just some examples of what you could ask your candidates about their previous work experience. If they don’t have any experience, consider asking hypothetical questions to see how they would react in certain situations that could occur in their potential future role.
The answers candidates give to job-related questions should give you more information about their background and show how they would handle their daily responsibilities and challenges. Given that these questions are related to the role you are hiring for, most of them are suitable for both people with and without experience.
Here are some general questions about the job that could tell you if your future employee would need some additional training if you choose to hire them:
- Are you familiar with the technology used at a dispensary?
- Do you have experience with selling edibles/oils/tinctures?
- How do you define good customer experience in the cannabis industry?
Your future employee can expect to find themselves in a situation where they would need to act without having the time to consult with colleagues. Here are some cases you can present to them to check how they would respond:
- How would you handle a difficult customer (demanding, frustrated, drunk, or high, for example)?
- If a customer had a bad experience with a product, how would you help them pick a different one?
Since they would be working at a dispensary, candidates should know there is a possibility that they would encounter an intoxicated customer. If that person is not violent, your employees should treat them like any other customer. If, on the other hand, the customer attacks or insults somebody, your staff should escort them out and call the police, especially if the person refuses to leave.
If a candidate responded differently to this question, you shouldn’t discard them immediately, as it’s possible they didn’t have a similar experience before. Offer some guidance instead and check if the candidate would be okay with dealing with the situation the way you proposed.
Questions About Products and Personal Use
Questions about products and personal use should help you learn more about the candidate and also check for their knowledge of cannabis products:
- How did cannabis influence your life?
- What is your favorite strain?
- What types of cannabis products do you enjoy and why?
- How would you recommend a product to a first-time customer?
If they can explain what cannabis means for them, what they like about it, and describe their favorite products, that should clearly indicate they are familiar with what the market offers. However, if you’d like to check their theoretical knowledge too, you can always ask questions like:
- Do you know what terpenes are?
- How would you explain the difference between Indica and Sativa?
Remember that facts are something a person can learn on the job, while practical knowledge and the ability to advise from personal experience could be more valuable for your customers.
Expectations and Plans for the Future?
If a candidate reaches this stage of the interview, it means that you might be dealing with a cannabis superstar and your future employee. What’s left now are the questions about their expectations from the role and their plans for the future:
- What do you expect to learn in this position?
- What are your plans for the future? Would you like to continue being a budtender or switch to a store manager position, for example?
- What excites you the most about the future of the cannabis industry?
Of course, you can always adapt these questions to better inquire about the role you are looking to fill. They should tell you more about the person’s ambitions, aspirations, and passion for the industry.
At the end of the interview, don’t forget to ask the famous question:
- Do you have any questions for me?
You might learn a thing or two more about the candidate and clear out any doubts they might have about the position.
Bringing the right talent in is essential for your dispensary. By hiring the right people, not only do you get good employees for your business, but you also strive to provide exceptional service to your customers, who will keep coming back to your store.
When hiring your first employees, you must also consider additional cannabis business insurance policies you should purchase for your company. Apart from the standard dispensary insurance policies, such as general liability, property or product liability insurance, you should also get workers compensation and employment practices liability insurance (EPLI).
Workers comp responds to employee injury or illness by covering treatment and rehabilitation costs, medical bills, and part of the lost wages.
EPLI covers the claims of workplace discrimination, harassment, or failure to promote. Also, if an employee sues you for wrongful termination, your EPLI policy would cover the costs of defending the claim as long as the reason for termination was not illegal.