Sales Management Corner-Common Sense Rule #7

Don’t “Wing” The Interview & Don’t Rely On Your Gut

 There are times when my son, Pat, just shakes his head at some of my escapades because he knows that for much of my business life I have gone into situations half-cocked and winging it. I could make a case that I haven’t wound up too bad for a guy who acts more on instinct than on logic. Then again, there are times when I wish I was blessed with Pat’s incredible use of logic and clear-headed problem solving abilities.

This is a prime example of someone who came to the party prepared. About twenty years ago I received a call from a complete stranger who asked for a reference on an individual who I managed but who had also left the company several months prior to this person’s call. What makes the story a whole lot more interesting is that had the salesperson not left the company I would have fired him anyway. So back to the mysterious caller. This gentleman wanted my feedback on the salesperson who had “left” the company. Like most people I didn’t want to “dis” my former employee so I danced around the guy’s questions until he asked me the ultimate killer question. “Tom, would you hire this person back if you had the chance-yes or no?” Ah, no! Click.

Now there was a guy who was prepared.  Here are a few things that I did not do back in the day but do now:

  1. Pre-read the resume.
  2. Research the companies that the salesperson worked for. You might discover information about the company that influenced the salesperson to leave or you might discover that there was no earthly reason why the rep should have left. Either discovery is valuable.
  3. Prepare an agenda for the interview so both you and the candidate have a sense for what will happen.
  4. Prepare questions you want to ask and have them documented and in front of you. (I can’t tell you how many times I left an interview and remembered something I forgot to ask. Dumb.)
  5. Prepare a selling situation that you want the candidate to execute during the interview.
  6. Take notes on how the candidate executes his or her part of the interview. In my opinion this should model how the salesperson sells. If they do a lot of self-promotion or talk endlessly then the chances are good that this person also sells that way.
  7. Prepare sales scenarios that you want the candidate to react to.
  8. At least once during the interview be silent for a longer time period than is comfortable. It is interesting and fun to see how people react to this.

I’ll have more on this topic next week and will also provide several links to other worthwhile sites on interviewing.

The Final Thought:     I Like this quote I dislike this quoteMy basic approach to interviewing is to ask the basic questions that might even sound naive, or not intellectual. Sometimes when you ask the simple questions like ‘Who are you?’ or ‘What do you do?’ you learn the most.” Brian Lamb


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