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How to conduct a successful first job interview in cannabis

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A hiring managers’s interview guide for salaried and executive management positions. 

The importance of good interview skills.  It’s the responsibility of the hiring manager to guide the interview process. An effective first interview determines if a candidate’s skills, experience, and personality fit the job requirements and company culture. Crafting an effective interview process leads to better performance, higher job satisfaction, and lower turnover. Ultimately, this saves your company money and time in the long run.

Who is FlowerHire? FlowerHire is a team of experienced recruiting professionals dedicated to helping companies build, scale, and retain world-class teams. FlowerHire has filled over 1000 management and executive roles in the cannabis industry. In 2023, FlowerHire filled over 90 roles in 24 different states. We help clients design the interview process and provide them with standard questions so they can evaluate if a candidate has the right experience for a role.

5 benefits of partnering with a well-connected recruiting agency

How to prepare for the job interview

Get prepared. Hiring A-level talent is all about the candidate’s experience in the interview. Before you interview a candidate, get yourself prepared. Look over the candidate’s resume or any notes the recruiter provided to see if anything sticks out. A candidate will know if you’re unprepared. If looking over the resume means you need to be 5 minutes late, then send a text or email to let them know, and then use those 5 minutes to review.

Show your interest. If you’re unfamiliar with the company the candidate currently works with, look at the company’s website and gain a basic understanding of what they do. This will show your interest and that you took the time to look into their work history. 

How to start the job interview

You are the interviewer, and it’s your job to take control, guide the interview, and make it productive for you and the interviewee.

Give the candidate knowledge of who they’re speaking with. Introduce yourself, explain your role in the company, the scope of your responsibilities for your day-to-day job, and how long you’ve been with the company. Tell them what you’ve seen during your employment with the company. For example, you can talk about growth or other significant details.

Explain the role the candidate is interviewing for. Tell the candidate about the open role, why it’s open, and the core responsibilities.

This is an important step because it makes the whole interview more efficient. It’s a way of guiding the interviewee before they respond to any questions. If you can highlight what experiences you need a candidate to have, candidates with that experience will highlight that experience in their answers.

If you need position-specific interview questions, email FlowerHire knows how to conduct a job interview for every position in the cannabis industry. We create a list of targeted interview questions for each role. Reach out to a cannabis recruiter to learn more.

The interview

What do you know about our company? If the candidate does not know much, take this time to briefly discuss the company.

It’s a good tell if a candidate knows a bit about your organization. If a candidate takes the initiative, it’s like a barometer of their interest. However, if they don’t know much, it’s still okay – don’t read too much into it for non-C-level candidates. Many candidates are passive and have a lot going on in their lives especially if they already have a day job working within the industry.

Tell me about yourself. A good candidate will quickly highlight the experience they have that is relevant to the core responsibilities you’ve already shared. If a candidate has the relevant experience, they’re going to talk about it immediately.

However, some candidates are very nervous and don’t have professional job-seeking experience. If you find a candidate rambling about their experience, ask a more pointed question. Refer back to the core role and responsibilities you mentioned during your intro. Then, ask about their specific experience with that responsibility. At this point, you’ll have a good idea if they’ve done what you want them to do or not. 

This is a good opportunity to get a read on their active listening skills. Do they redirect or talk about what you want them to talk about? In today’s fast-paced, remote work environment, efficient communication with your team is highly desirable.

To get a better understanding of the role and experience at their current company, you can ask them questions like:

  • What was the size of the company?
  • Who did you report to on a daily basis?
  • What was that relationship like with your direct supervisor?
  • How much interaction did you have with them?

If this is a management role, you might want to ask:

  • What is your leadership style? 
  • Was there a situation where you helped someone move their career forward beneath you?
  • Name a time there was a conflict within the team and you helped work through a solution and how you did it.
  • Were there any new processes or SOPs that you implemented? What were the results of those?
  • Were there specific numbers you tracked (KPIs) attached to goals that you had to track to determine success?
  • Feel free to ask any other question from their resume / LinkedIn that you were curious about.

Are there experiences at other jobs that you’d like to highlight with experience relevant to this job? Allow them to speak about experiences in past roles that align with the responsibility and skills you’re looking for.

What are you looking for in your next job? Ideally, the candidate talks about the type of job that you’re hiring for. It’s surprising how many candidates don’t. Think twice about moving someone forward who doesn’t want what you are offering. It’s critical to know that they want to do a job like the one you’re offering.  That being said, if they want to be an executive or start their own business, that can be okay if they are realistic with their timetables to get there.  You want to surround yourself with a team of motivated people hungry to move their careers forward at your company.

How to transition traditional executives into the cannabis industry

Salary. A high-quality recruiting agency will recommend waiting for the second interview to ask about salary. It’s not always important in the first conversation. But if you have no data on salary from a third party or your internal HR team, it’s a good idea to ask so that you don’t waste anyone’s time. Check with your HR department or outside counsel if you need tips on what you can and cannot say about compensation.

Location. If this is an in-office job, make sure they are okay with the location. How long will the person’s commute be? Do they need to relocate?

NOTE: Salary and location are the two biggest reasons that someone doesn’t take a job.

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How to reject a job candidate

If you’re not interested in the candidate but want to keep them as a potential hire down the road just in case, or you don’t want to give them a reason why it’s a no, you can say: 

 I appreciate your time today. This is a preliminary interview. We have some other interviews lined up this week. I’ll have an update for you in the next week or two. 

If the candidate is a no because there is a skill or level of experience that you want the candidate to have, it’s okay to be forward and reference that. For example, you may say something like:

I’m looking for someone who’s run an indoor cultivation with more than 20,000 square feet of canopy. 

I’m looking for somebody who’s actually had to run the month-end close process for an accounting function before.

You can also add:

I’ll keep your resume on file for when something comes along that’s a better fit.

Other tips:  If a candidate is on the “bubble” – you may or may not be interested in moving them forward in the interview process depending on other candidates you speak with – consider giving them an action item to follow up with you via email.  This gives you an understanding of their:

  1. Interest level
  2. Communication skills
  3. Follow through

A few examples of things you can have them follow up with you about are:

  • A certain term or process you asked about and they didn’t know. Have them look into it and get back to you about it and if it is similar to anything they have
  • Tangible goals if they couldn’t think of a specific example.
  • Leadership experiences or work experiences they had but couldn’t remember.

How to move forward with a job candidate

Do you have any questions? Asking the person if they have any questions is a great sign of how serious they are about the role. It also gives you a better understanding of how they think. 

Do you have any questions about my team, the company, or the role?

If the person does not ask any questions, don’t take it as a definite no. Some candidates are overwhelmed by the interview process. A candidate may say they’ll follow up with their questions, which is a good sign.

How to end a job interview

Be a steward of the interview process by telling them what’s next. Map out the interview process for the candidate and your timeline for when you’d like to make a hiring decision.  You also want to temper their expectations a bit through something called KKP (kiss, kick, push) You can say something like:

Kiss – I enjoyed our conversation today.

Kick – We have a few other interviews set up with other candidates as we want to get this job filled, but 

PUSH – There are a few other people I would like you to speak with. I’d like to connect you with [name, title], [name, title]. The next conversations will be [insert location, whether it be on Zoom or in-person].

If you’re a hiring manager, it’s important to continue to develop your interview skills. Conducting effective interviews improves retention and reduces turnover. Hiring the right person for a role who is also a good fit with the company culture leads to better performance, higher job satisfaction, and lower turnover. Ultimately, this saves your company money and time in the long run. 

FlowerHire partners with cannabis companies – at any stage of their growth – to provide high-touch recruiting services including: 

  • Retained and embedded search
  • Strategic talent management
  • Comprehensive HR advisory


For more support with how to conduct a successful job interview, reach out to

To build a cannabis team, connect with a cannabis recruiter.

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