Interviewing the Sales Candidate - What's the Real Goal?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 10, 2007 @ 09:08 AM

Most management teams don't have a clue how to interview a sales candidate.  I've seen them waste precious time reviewing their job history.  I've seen them put candidates through hypothetical situations, and attempt to pass judgement on whether candidates have sales ability despite the fact that most of them don't know how make that determination!

The most important rule for the live interview is that you can only interview hirable candidates - those who you already know will have success selling your product or service into your marketplace against your competition with your particular challenges.  That's accomplished by using the right sales specific assessment.

Next, the goal is to learn whether the candidate can walk the walk - whether the candidate has personal ownership of the claims on the resume.  That's accomplished by challenging each and every claim - asking questions like "who exactly?", "over what period of time?", and "how was this done?"  Asking questions like "what is this?", "explain how you did this?" will help you get there too.  Do they own the substance behind the fluff on the resume or are they unable to explain exactly how they accomplished what they claimed?

You must continually challenge everything they say until you know whether their claims are authentic. 

Next you should have a list of the most challenging aspects of the sales position and ask them "...and what in your experience has prepared you for....?"

When you get better at punching holes through the claims of hirable candidates, you'll find yourself selecting great salespeople.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: recruiting

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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