The competency model will give you a road map to design your interview…Stick to It…Use It! A successful salesperson in one sales quadrant is not a sure bet for an opposite quadrant. We make sure our competency model is designed in a way that we are looking for the Right Fit Person.
The bulk of the interview should be built around the specific competencies needed for the position.
For a sales position we absolutely must have people who have to win, they must have ambition and a drive to be the best.
We also need people who are comfortable with who they are. Think about it, when meeting with a successful business owner, many times one that is twice the age of the salesperson, do they feel they personally bring value to the prospect or business owner?
They have to be okay with conflict and plant their feet when they need to.
If it is a consultative sale with a long sales cycle we need to know how well they are organized, are they creative thinkers, can they manage multiple relationship?
When interviewing salespeople we must also simulate what they will see when prospecting and selling. My belief is we get them comfortable with us in the beginning of the interview and later they will get some conflict and surprises that will put them under some pressure. How do they handle it? What you see in the interview will be how they react in a selling situation.
There are some lines of questioning that can and should be standard for every interview. For example:
I like to know about the individual when they were between the ages of 15-18 years old. We ask the candidate to take us back to their days in high school and we ask several questions about that time in their life, some relating to the academics, but even more related to outside activities and people that influenced them.
How were these people raised?
What were the messages they heard that makes them who they are?
This can easily be accomplished without violating any EEOC requirements.
Let me share with you an example that illustrates what you can learn in the first 5-7 minutes. Recently, we interviewed a candidate who grew up in Texas. She was raised by a strong single mom, they had very little income. As a freshman in high school, she realized that she really wanted to attend Texas A&M. Well, the tuition was going to be unattainable with her mom’s income, so she found a solution. This young lady started working for a catering company to earn money for her education. For her, every weekday began at 4:00 AM, she worked until 7:30 AM and then headed off to high school. She saved money, went to A&M, and earned her degree. She was an honor student throughout high school and college.
Several different attributes were discovered about this candidate that may not have shown up had we not started with that line of questioning.
Remember, rely on and stick with your Competency Model, it guides you to what you are seeking for your sales hire.