Gone are the days when you met a prospective employer for a half-hour sit-down interview and politely chatted about your qualifications and work experience…
The modern interviewing process is far more interactive, challenging, and is designed to offer employers insight into not only your skills, but also your personality and most important in the sales arena, your emotional intelligence.
It’s important to realise (as so often overlooked), that an interview is a two-way street, ie - two parties are selling, and in theory two parties are buying!
Kick things off by asking a very open, broad question, with multiple layers. If asked correctly, the candidate should have the floor to talk at length for a good 5 minutes at least.
It will give you a far deeper understanding of what’s brought them to this point in their life and indeed, why you’re sat here today having the discussion. It will also put them at ease very quickly.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself, who is (candidate name), specifically what it doesn't tell me on your resume, for example the highs/lows over the past 5 years, what you've learned and what's next for you..?
- The candidate to express their strengths and weaknesses through their examples
- You to see where they place emphasis on what’s important
- Helps you to understand if the goals/achievements in the role align with those they are after
2. What type of leadership/management is important for you to succeed?
A question like this is important as it is critical that we match the needs of the candidate with the hiring manager. It helps you to discern how they would react to different types of management styles and ensures that you truly understand what management the candidate needs - not just what they say they want!
3. What differentiates you from other sales professionals and what would you attribute your success to?
Everyone has a different approach to sales and in some circumstances your style can determine your success at a role. Looking to see what skills they emphasise in their process, what formal training they may have had and if they sell based on solution rather than pushing product. This allows for you to help determine their suitability for a role regardless of experience and how you could coach, train, upskill and even mentor them.
4. What do you see are the key challenges you would face in this role that you would like support with?
This demonstrates two points:
1. They’ve researched the roll and understand it in depth.
2. They have the self-awareness and EQ to have ascertained where they need assistance.
5. What are you planning to achieve over the next 1/3/5 years both inside of work/outside?
It’s fundamentally important that everyone has purpose in what they’re trying to achieve. The answer to this question provides meaning to their daily activity.
As a rule, a candidate in a commission-oriented role will have goals they’re working toward and they’ll reverse engineer the outcome. As a hiring manager you’d want to understand whether you/your business could assist in achieving this.
Believe it or not, there’s more to life than just work! Quiz their holistic ambitions.
6. What motivates you, really gets you up with a spring in your step every day?
This provides a deeper understanding on what is driving/underpinning their goals.
7. What’s important to you in your next role, what are the prerequisites for you?
As a rule, the important aspects will be listed in hierarchy of needs, i.e., career progression, income progression, culture. Press on these answers and question, why were these needs listed in that particular order.
This will really start to provide a good insight as to what motivates this candidate, what’s important and if it’s aligned with what you can provide at your company.
8. KPI’s - what metrics were you judged upon in your current/last role, what were your budgets and how you’ve performed comparatively. Also, how many other peers were there in the same role and where were you ranked as comparison?
This is where the conversation becomes far more specific as numbers aren’t subject to opinion, it’s cold hard facts.
9. What questions do you have for me?
Be assumptive, any candidate that turns up without any questions is not worth hiring in your business.
Their questions should provide some context on how much they know and understand about the business and the role.
To conclude, there’s evidently far more questioning to flesh out a meaningful/successful interview however this provides the basic framework to ensure you have a foundation on which to build out a clear, concise, repeatable process/practise.
Like a sales process, an interview should follow a structure with anchor points, whilst all the while feeling very familiar, conversational and almost informal. This will allow the candidate to really relax, let their guard down and be themselves.
Get out of the board room! Sit somewhere less formal, more inviting of a discussion free from the rigidity of the traditional interview model.
Interview techniques have changed beyond all recognition over the last 5 years, be fresh, be inquisitive and above all, ensure both parties are having a good time!