“I know how to interview. I’ve been doing it for years.” I hear this from practically every manager I’ve ever coached or trained. Learn how to deepen your interviewing strategies to avoid hiring the wrong people.
It’s not like these managers or those responsible for making a hiring decision are doing it all wrong. Many are quite good at interviewing people, finding the right candidates and screening out the ones that just don’t fit. I’ve just observed over the years some key areas that many people are missing the mark on when conducting an interview and determining who the best candidate for the position truly is.
Especially when it comes to top-grading and rebuilding your sales team, getting the right candidate in the right position in the most expedient way possible is more critical than ever. The cost of not doing so can be severe. And this cost is compounded when companies on board the wrong person.
Granted, you may already be using some well constructed questions during an interview. Moving beyond simply the questions that you could ask, what other things are you doing to ensure you make the best hiring decision?
A Multi-Dimensional Interviewing Process
Lets look at how you manage or facilitate a simulation or a role play. Many interviewers ask questions like, “How would you handle this if you were in this situation” or “Tell me what steps you would take before calling on a key account” or even “Walk me through a strategy you would use to build your pipeline.”
While these are all great questions, they are still falling short of one critical element. That is, the language this candidate would be using to facilitate the type of conversation described in these simulations. To dive deeper in determining this person’s acumen or ability, it’s critical you’re able to evaluate how they communicate, as well as their overall communication strategy that would be embedded in each of these situations I’ve described in the prior questions.
The most successful salespeople realize that sales, just like leadership and coaching, is truly a language and a way of communicating. Therefore, it’s imperative you uncover not only how they think strategically and the processes they may use but how effective this person could be when you send them out to connect with your new and existing customers. Anyone can talk a good game regarding processes and approach from the hundred foot viewpoint. But how they deliver the message in a variety of different situations is something that can’t be faked during an interview.
Below, I’ve listed some very key questions in order to reduce mis-hires and bring on the right people.
Simulations and Role Play
- If you had to make a call to a prospect who you have never spoken to, what would be the steps you would take before making that call?
- What would that cold call sound like?
- If you were following up with a customer to explore and uncover additional selling opportunities, what would your approach sound like?
- Lets say you just delivered the final product/service to your new customer. They called you the next day with a major problem. They were frustrated and irate. Lets say I’m the customer in this situation. How would you facilitate that conversation? What would that dialogue sound like?
- There’s a prospect you’ve been calling on for months. They’re finally ready to make a decision to buy and you just found out that there are two more venders now involved in this bid for their business. What would be your strategy to position yourself as the vender of choice? (What would you say, questions asked, etc.)
- How many times do you call on a prospect before putting them on your do not call list? How do you determine that? What would your approach be? Why?
- You’re about to visit a new potential client for the first time. What preliminary work would you do? How would you craft your presentation and set the expectations of the meeting? (What would your presentation sound like?)
- You’ve been handed a client list of approximately 100 accounts to call on. You’ve noticed after several months, their monthly spending with you has slowly diminished. How would you handle this? What would you say?
When these questions and the simulation exercise are used correctly, you’ll find that the need to top-grade your sales team will diminish because you’ve fixed the breakdown in your overall hiring and retention strategy; the broken component that exists in your system and where it all starts, your interviewing process.