Talented salespeople can make big things happen for you and
your company. Perhaps there is no more important decision that a sales manager
makes than the decision to hire a new salesperson. One new-hire can change the
entire culture of your sales team – for better or for worse. Tweaking the
standard interview questions to dig a little deeper, scratch beneath the
surface, may help to reveal the true talents (or not) of your sales candidates.
“What research have you done on our
This question assumes that all candidates you will be
interviewing have done some gathering of information about your company prior
to their interview. The question takes candidates beyond their prepared answers
about your company, by asking them to describe not only what information was
gathered, but the process they went through to gather the intelligence.
Underperformers visited your website and simply “mined” a
few factoids to sprinkle in your meeting. The candidate you want went far
beyond that in their preparation.
“What type of sales manager rubs you the wrong
Recently I saw a statistic in USA Today that the # 1 reason
productive people leave an organization is because of their relationship with
their immediate supervisor. This question probes that relationship.
Often when interviewing we fall into the trap of asking
candidates questions only about themselves. This question encourages discussion
about how they view their current, or most recent, workplace. What types of
things did their most recent sales manager do that wasn’t helpful to them? You
gain insight into the candidates’ degree of coachability from their opinions
and attitudes about being managed.
Your best hires are those that fit well into your company
“Tell me about the specific results have achieved
in your most recent sales position?”
Successful salespeople will answer this question with
specific details of results achieved. Less successful people may offer some
initial specifics, no doubt well-rehearsed, but then tend to shift off the
question. Less desirable candidates will also
be somewhat vague.
We all know the cost of a bad hire, in terms of time,
opportunity cost and lost salary. But what about the cost of missing out on the
right person? What about the candidate that you reject that could have been
developed into a great hire? Craft better questions to get more revealing
answers and make better hiring decisions!