Interviewing sales candidates requires completion of a series of steps, each building on the previous one. That's why a “preparation” step is the most important in the interviewing process. Interviews cannot succeed without a solid foundation.
The preparation step for many managers consists of a quick perusal of a candidate’s resume just before or after the candidate has arrived. With some, this actually takes place as they are walking down the hallway to meet the candidate, or as they are sitting across from the candidate at the beginning of the interview. Often, these are the sales managers who believe they are fantastic interviewers! Managers preparing to interview salespeople should be sure to include the following tasks if they are to be ready to face their prospective hires:
- You should have a “hiring template” against which you will measure your candidates. The template should include descriptions of desirable personal and professional attributes, combined with a description of behaviors, attitudes and techniques generally associated with highly successful salespeople in your company. This template should also include a task model that defines specific prospecting and sales activities. These activities, or behavior metrics, should be quantified, i.e., X number of prospecting calls per day, X number of new appointments per week, etc. This will provide the foundation for discussing the actual requirements of your sales position. Further, the template should include specific qualities candidates need to have if they are to fit in with the rest of the team members.
- You should gather information on each candidate in a manner which will provide easy comparison of their qualifications against the hiring template.
- Preparation should also include uncovering the clues in candidates' resumes, such as: Does the candidate support teamwork? Does he jump from job to job? What are his current responsibilities? Does he make lateral moves, moves up (promotions), or is he stagnant? Does he fit the company culture?
- Determine the questions you will ask to: verify the resume; expand or clarify the candidate's history; determine whether the candidate can match to the hiring template and the task model; uncover the candidate's support of teamwork; and probe the candidate's productivity. These questions should be planned and written down in advance.
I recommend an hour of preparation for each hour of interviewing. Preparation is just the first of several steps required when hiring excellent salespeople... but it's clearly the most important step!
Reach out to us with any questions: Ken Smith / 301-590-8700, ext.101 / firstname.lastname@example.org