In this sales management training series, we will delve into the essential steps to take when first interviewing and then hiring top sales candidates.
There are 6 sales management training steps to follow and we will cover each step in detail, in 6 consecutive posts, so here goes.
Most essentially, to make absolutely sure that you are interviewing every candidate on a level playing field, as well as to make your interviews to be as productive as possible, it’s critically important for you to evaluate each candidate in the exact same way. This is why we have a 6 step Sales Management Training system for hiring.
Interview different for each sales candidate and you will get different and inconsistent results.
Same-ness in structure, used in combination with controlled evaluation tools make this possible. You can deviate from the formula ever so slightly if you absolutely have to – but do your best not to.
The formalized structure helps you to process the information that you receive from your questions in a balanced manner, so that all candidates are given an equal chance. The downside of not following any set structure is that you will be less likely to make a sound hiring decision as determinants may be biased and disproportionate.
Remember that hiring salespeople is the most difficult of all hires due to the fact that you’re interviewing them in their native environment. Don’t forget that the interview is “the biggest sales call of their life” – so you need to be doubly sharp to pick up on all the candidate’s personal nuances so you get the most accurate picture of who they really are.
So within each interview there is a structure to follow so that you continue to evaluate each candidate on an equal plane. This way you can objectively evaluate each candidate on their won merits. You can achieve that objectivity when you conduct your interviews all within the same format as follows:
- Make ‘Em Comfy
- “The Resume Walk” (First Interview only)
- “The Funnel”
- Q and A
- Next Steps
1. Make ‘Em Comfy
When you first meet your interview candidate, your real first goal in the interview is to make them as comfortable as you possibly can. A lot of interviewers will tell you that you should immediately put an interview candidate on the defensive and make them defend themselves at every step of the interview process.
Don’t do this!
There is a very good reason why and that’s because:
A comfortable, relaxed interview candidate reveals so much more than one who’s up-tight and nervous!
Unless you’re a masochist, it’s a whole lot more fun to talk to someone who is at ease than one who’s nervous or intimidated. This way you really get to know them for who they are as opposed to who they think they should be as long as you make them comfortable.
Don’t do this because you’re a nice guy or gal…forget that. Do it because it’s the single most effective way to get to the heart of who they really are. You want them to be the star of the show, the one who is relaxed and alert – because only then do you get them to let their guard down so that you can discover what they’re really all about!
Here is a logical sequence of events to make ‘em comfy:
- As they are entering the interview room, make pleasant chit chat at first, where they were coming from, ask them about where they live, how was the parking, traffic, the weather, anything to get them at ease right off the bat. We will analyze this conversation in later lessons – and this interaction is a very important one in the end when deciding on which candidates to hire – but for right now, just focus on making them feel at ease.
- Another great way to start off is to make them even more comfortable by asking them if they want a drink of water, offer that they take off their jacket, anything that allows them to feel at ease. This will immediately set the tone of relaxation and make a far more welcoming interview environment.
- Make a good first impression; notify the front desk personnel at your company that the candidate is coming. Give the receptionist the candidates name and a way to reach you when they arrive. Remember that the tension a candidate feels at this time can be blown out of proportion by a poor reception at your company. If you can, make sure that every staff member who comes in contact with the candidate in the hallways, next door offices and the like are apprised of the candidate’s arrival and even provide them with names, if possible.
- The same goes for you as well. It’s possible you may want to impress the candidate with your status and level of importance by sending one of your minions to fetch the candidate and lead him back to your castle. It’s done all the time of course…but don’t do it. Meet the candidate in the lobby yourself and offer them a sincere welcome. Look them in the eye and give them a firm handshake. It will go a longer way in setting them at ease by simply being genuine and real.
- A lot has been written about the interview environment, including many experts touting that you should “set a relaxed environment – don’t interview across from a desk. Instead sit on easy chairs on a low coffee table…” Unless you’ve decided to carry out all your interviews in the café at the local Starbucks, chances are that you don’t have any of this. Forget all that. Privacy is really the main thing here. Secure an interview room with a door that can be closed. Also, tell your staff not to disturb you if at all possible. After all, very little can happen of huge significance in the hour it takes to do an interview. If there are calls for you, advise your staff to take a message. Frequent interruptions in an interview are just rude – but most importantly, these distractions unnerve candidates as well. This counteracts your goal of making them comfortable to extract the maximum, if not truthful information from them. The most important thing here is that you make both a good impression as well as a highly professional one.
- Since you have a time frame on each of the steps of the interview process, you want to keep an eye on the clock to stay on schedule so you can interview each candidate objectively. If you’re on the first interview – you want it to last no longer than an hour. To keep yourself on schedule, position your seat so that you are directly facing a clock. You should never look at your watch while they are answering a question – its just plain rude. However, you can look at your watch while you’re talking…but the problem is that you won’t be doing much of that – especially in the first interview. To stay on schedule just interview in a room with a clock and have your chair facing the clock. That way you keep them comfy while staying on schedule.
Remember that your biggest job at this stage is to make the candidate very comfortable so that they reveal the truth behind the resume, so to speak.
Next up, sales management training interviewing step #2, “The Pre-Interview”.
This post first appeared on Sales Management Training For Sales Management Pro, please read the originial post: here