Stupid questions can be your best friend.
And when you are interviewing salespeople, you’ll hear a lot of them.
In this occasional sales management training series on How to Interview a Salesperson, in this session, we delve into the question and answer part of the interview.
The Q & A Part of The Sales Management Interview
Most sales managers think that once their questions are asked, the interview is over. Most Sales Management Training completely discounts this part of the interview.
That’s really too bad because its probably the most important…
The sales interview is only “over” until, as Blake (played by Alec Baldwin – way before 40 Rock and twenty-something appearances on Saturday Night Live) said in the greatest Sales Management movie of all time Glengarry Glen Ross… “get them to sign on the line that is dotted”…
Click here to view the embedded video.
(Any opportunity for me to show a video clip of Glengarry Glen Ross on this blog I will! :-) )
Unlike Alex Baldwin, you don’t have to swear and insult the sales interview that asks the stupid question…all you need to do is listen for the questions that are the ones that knock them out of the running.
And these questions are the stupid ones.
Because you don’t want to hire those guys.
And “put the coffee down”!
The Dumb Interview Questions to Look Out For
At about the half-hour mark of the first interview, right about the time the candidate has gone through the full resume walk, you most likely are getting a pretty good idea whether you want to interview the candidate again.
Since sales candidates have a tendency to talk a lot, you should watch your clock at this mark because it’s at this time point that you will need to start thinking about your exit strategy for the interview.
If you’re not sure that you like the candidate enough to bring them back for the second interview, then you’ll probably want to interview them again anyway, just to be sure. In future sales management training posts, we’ll delve into the second interview in greater detail.
For now however, we will continue on with the first interview questions.
So with fifteen minutes left before the hour mark, stop your questions, close your dossier, put down your pen and ask the interviewee:
“So, what kind of questions do you have for me?”
This tells them the interview is basically over.
If they don’t get that message, then you really need to question the candidate’s ability to pick up on non-verbal cues….this is kind of an important skill to have a salesperson!
If you were on the fence about this candidate, now is the time to find out both how smart they are as well as how prepared they are for the interview.
The first interview Q & A section will surely tell you whether they did five minutes of research on your company or five hours of research on your company.
“Good” interview questions may include:
- Job-responsibility questions
- Questions about the company
- Specific questions on the products or services.
- Any question that is thought-provoking would be considered a positive for the candidate.
If your candidate asks questions like those above, then you are on the right track and chances are pretty good that you’ll invite them back for interview number two.
However, if they ask “dumb” questions, or in the absolute extreme, not asking any questions at all – then you want to call your recruiter to send your more resumes!
So which questions are “dumb”? Below is a partial list. The rest of which you can get here.
1. Salary and commission questions
If the candidate asks a question about how much they get paid on the first interview, and asks it less than tactfully, this is a huge red flag for you.
However, if the question is raised, you should ask the candidate what they have been told on this issue.
If you are using a recruiter, you want to make sure that you and the recruiter are on the same page and you want to clear up any misperceptions the candidate may have regarding the compensation package your company offers.
Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t answer first when this question comes up. If you answer too hastily, this could affect your salary negotiations later on.
What you want to do is find out what they know and then give them a general idea as to the accuracy.
2. “Training” Questions
One of the most lame interview questions of all includes the most over-asked question in sales interview history, namely: “What’s your training like?”
Why on earth would a competent candidate ask this kind of question before you even get the job? What does it matter?
This question always signals that the candidate has put somewhere between zero and nil thought or research into the position in question.
3. Vacation Questions
An even better (or actually worse) question is: “What holidays do you have off?” or “How much vacation time do I get?”
Its always a sales management training crowd-pleaser to ask your potential future boss how many days you won’t be working in the next year.
I usually answer this question with a kind of snide response saying something like:
“None – because I haven’t hired you yet…”
You may want to soften your response a bit however…
In our next sales management training, we’ll get into the final part of our final part in this series: Final Thoughts and The Offer.
So stay tuned.
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This post first appeared on Sales Management Training For Sales Management Pro, please read the originial post: here