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“I know how to interview. I’ve been doing it for years.” I hear this
from practically every manager or HR executive I’ve ever had the privilege of
coaching or training. And the other day, when speaking to one of my favorite
clients, a VP of HR, this statement was echoed once again.
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 topgrading 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 onboard 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?
Keep in mind, the interviewing process is multi-dimensional. To build
off this, 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
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 Plays:
1.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?
2. What would that cold call sound like?
3. If you were following up with a customer to explore and uncover
additional selling opportunities, what would your approach sound like?
4. 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?
5. 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.)
6. 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?
7. 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?)
8. 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 topgrade 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