How To Lower Your Risk When Hiring Salespeople

Q. We hire sales reps to be out in the field. Some are not even in Southern California. Hiring successful salespeople seems to be the most difficult hiring we do. How can we ensure they aren't just selling us in the interview?

This is one of the most asked questions I receive from my clients. It all starts with expectations. I find that often the expectations when hiring sales people aren't very realistic. The company wants the salesperson to start booking sales right away, bring a book of business with them, have quotas none of their other sales people attained when hired or they expect the salesperson to start making cold calls on day one. All of these are good things, but for many companies not realistic. I would start with a reality check on your expectations for the first year. Ask yourself, “How many new salespeople have met these sales goals?” If the answer is none, then you might have to realign your expectations.

There are a couple of things I like to do when hiring salespeople. I like to find out what they have done to become better at selling. So I like to know what continuing education they have received in sales training, what books on selling they have read recently, and have they or do they use formal training to become better at their job. Most salespeople have never received much formal sales training, never read a book on selling, or how to get to the decision maker. So what do they do to become better salespeople? I think salespeople should have continuing education similar to most professions.

If making sales presentations is important for your salespeople ask them to come in and make a sales presentation. They will probably tell you in the interview that they make a lot of sales presentations. Great, ask them to do the presentation for you. Then you can evaluate if it is at the standards you expect for your company's sales force.

Finally, I have a client that actually pays the person he is seriously considering to take a day off and they spend the day in the car making sales calls together. He gets to see and learn a lot about the potential hire. This is really putting the candidate in the job before hiring them.

Learn exactly how to define expectations for salespeople by joining the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Is your hiring process designed to attract top salespeople? If you answered, “No” then download our free Hiring Methodology Assessment Matrix to discover how you change from “No” to “Yes.”  CLICK HERE to download, then click the LEARN MORE link at the top.

If this was helpful, please pass it along to others. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Can Your Candidates Demonstrate Initiative Before You Hire Them?

Q. What questions do you find are helpful for getting to the candidate's motivation and cultural fit?

 One question that I believe addresses these issues is centered around understanding the candidate's drive or initiative. Granted there are others, but I think this particular one deals with both.

Just about all jobs require some level of initiative. Most managers want a person that is willing to take initiative in their job. It is a lot easier to hold someone back than it is to try and push them forward. We believe all top talent is self-motivated and will take initiative.

The question I like to ask candidates is, “Can you give me an example in your current or last position where you demonstrated high initiative?” or “Can you give me an example in your current or last position where you did something you weren't required or asked to do, but you did it because you believed it needed to be done?”  These are excellent phone interviewing questions.

Depending on the level of the person the answer will vary. I wouldn't expect that same initiative from a truck driver as I would a VP level person. It also deals with the speed of one's culture.  After hearing the answer you might think this is high initiative or you might think, “If that is high initiative in their organization, in ours that would be considered standing still.”  Regardless of the answer, you'll know whether or not they demonstrate this trait at the right level for your position and your organization.

Finally, I find this to be one of the best phone interviewing questions. If the candidate can't provide an example of initiative or doesn't meet the standard you are seeking, do you really need to bring them in for an interview?

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.” Just CLICK HERE and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Interviewing Only The Employed. Is It The Way To Hire?

Q. My boss thinks we should only interview and hire people that are working.  What are your thoughts on this?

 I think you and your boss should only interview and hire qualified candidates that will be top performers. Why would your boss want to exclude a potential top performer because they are not working?

I get this question all the time. The fact is bad things happen to good people. I facilitate a group of VP and C level executives for the American Association of Senior Executives (www.AASE.us) many of these execs are in-transition and are top performers. It is inconceivable why any company would not consider them when hiring just because they are unemployed.

The goal when hiring should always be first and foremost, hire the person that will perform the best. There are many reasons in this economy unrelated to performance why a person may be unemployed. To paint everyone with such a broad brush is short sighted.  Ask your boss if they have ever hired someone working and that person failed? If the response is “Yes” then that demonstrates that just because someone is working doesn't mean they are the best person.

What if your boss becomes unemployed? Would he/she agree that they are not a high performer and shouldn't be hired?

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.” Just CLICK HERE and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Why Hiring Fails: Hiring Mistake #2 – Superficial Interviewing

Advanced_Interviewing_Workshop_Graphic

Next to not defining success, superficial interviewing is the second most common mistake made in the hiring process that leads to hiring failure.

There are two key elements to effective interviewing: Asking the right questions and validating the truth in the candidate answers.

 

Asking The Right Questions


Where do most CEOs, Executives, and Managers learn what interview questions to ask in an interview?

After having presented our program to over 30,000 CEOs, Executives, and Managers in the last 20 years, the vast majority tell us that they learned what interview questions to ask when they were originally interviewed 8-12-22 years ago. These questions form a collective group I like to call the 20 standard, stupid, inane, canned, silly interview questions based on tribal hiring. They are tribal in the sense that we blindly follow the questions the generations before us have asked, assuming that if they asked those questions, perhaps you should also ask those questions. What do these questions sound like?

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Why are you here today?
  • What do you know about us?
  • What do you want to be in 5 years?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Would you like to do this kind of work?
  • How strong are your computer skills?
  • We like team players – how do you feel about working in a team?

What we get as answers from these questions are the practiced, rehearsed, canned responses that are a complete waste of time. These questions do not reveal any insight regarding someone’s performance ability, past success, ability to deliver your success expectations, character, values, and typical behavior?

Why bother?

Instead, let’s just pick people off resumes and hope for the best – we’ll probably have as much luck. Let’s talk about luck for a minute. The entire process of asking the 20 standard, stupid, and canned interview questions focus on picking candidates who are the best at answering these questions. These questions have NOTHING to do with real work. They are an artificial set of questions designed to measure how well someone interviews – NOT how well someone will do in your open position. If we get a great employee – I’ll suggest it’s more a function of luck than any effective interviewing process or methodology.

Have you ever selected a candidate that said all the right things in the interview and then quickly fell apart after being hired? Of course you have – that’s where we got the title of our book and popular Vistage and TEC Speaker Program, You’re NOT the Person I Hired. How about this scenario: Have you ever hired a candidate that was not a good interviewee – quite, reserved, shy, introverted – you took a risk and hired the person. They turned out to be one of your better hires. Their on-the-job performance level was outstanding. Of course this has happened to you.

How is it possible that sometimes the best interviewees are not the best performers and sometimes the worst interviewees are the best performers?

It happens because the traditional and tribal process of asking the 20 standard, stupid, inane, canned, and silly questions force us to judge candidates on how well they can interview, NOT how well can they do the job. Layer on top of that the fact that we accept superficial responses to these questions and you’ve got the likely probability your candidate will fail to achieve your expectations.

The first step in overcoming superficial interviewing is to ask the right questions. We’ve designed a simple system for interviewing based on 5 Core Interview Questions. The first three questions are based on the most important traits of success. The second two questions are based on whether the person can meet your expectations and achieve them in your unique culture or environment.

We’ll get into the 5 Core Interview questions and the rationale for asking them in a later blog post. To whet your appetite and not leave you hanging, here are the 5 Core Interview Questions. These are based on a collective 75 years of executive search with my partners, over a 1000 search assignments, 250,000 candidates interviewed, and 30,000 hiring managers and executives that have been through our “You’re NOT the Person I Hired” program. In addition, we’ve conducted surveys, research projects, and tracked successful candidates over a 25 year period. All of those measures and activities have brought us to these 5 core interview questions:

  1. Initiative: Can you give me an example of where you’ve demonstrated high initiative in your last position – going above and beyond the call of duty?
  2. Flawless Execution: Could you share with me a task or assignment – – and you had to overcome significant obstacles and hurdles?
  3. Leadership: Could you illustrate your leadership by telling us about an example – where you either were part of the team or led the team? What did you do specifically to help the team achieve their goals or results?
  4. Success Factors: One of our most critical success factors for this role is X. What have you done that is most similar, comparable, like that expectation?
  5. Adaptability: How would achieving this success factor in our environment differ from attempting to achieve it in your previous company?

 

Superficial Interviewing

Superficial interviewing is the process of taking whatever the candidate tells us and accepting it as the truth.

Let’s think about truth in interviewing for a moment. Think back on all the candidates you’ve ever met in the hiring process. What is the percentage of candidates who have lied, embellished, or exaggerated what they have done or what they thought they could do for you. If I think back over my last 200 presentations to Vistage and TEC groups, almost everyone thinks the number is 100%. I’ll suggest it’s somewhere between 120% and 140%. You might wonder – how could Barry come up with a number like this? It’s because candidates lie, embellish, and exaggerate more than once – 17 times on their resume, 26 times in the phone interview, 38 times in the face-to-face interview.

Many candidates feel comfortable lying, embellishing, and exaggerating because they know you’ll never probe, validate, verify, vet, check-out, confirm, cross-reference, or triangulate their responses. They feel it is okay to claim accomplishments their peers or bosses achieved, give themselves inflated titles, make up their education, and completely misrepresent their responsibilities.

Layer that on top of our usual level of desperation to get the job filled, and now you’ve got hiring executives and managers who don’t want to know the truth. You meet a candidate that you have a great rapport with immediately, and you’ll stop asking questions and start selling the job. If you keep probing, you might discover the candidate’s warts – you don’t want to know their warts – you’re already in love and you want them to get the job.

Our methodology of getting to the truth in interviewing and moving beyond asking silly questions that generate superficial responses is called the “Magnifying Glass Approach.” It encompasses asking for examples, peeling the onion on every claim, and obtaining precise details on the examples, such as starting points, quantification, budget, resources, names of those involved, costs reduced, metrics improved, goals hit, difficulties overcome, and solutions generated. It’s done by asking the candidate WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW?

It involves DOCUMENTING the details from their examples. It’s a form of interviewing that is rigorous and objective. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a candidate to make it up fast enough. They can either immediately substantiate their claims of achievements, results, and accomplishments with great detail and depth, OR they will self-implode before your very eyes within seconds.

Most hiring executives and manager ask the candidate a question, hear the response, then think to themselves “good answer”, and then move on to a different line of questioning. We glaze across the top of the interview thinking we’re doing a good job of collecting information. Instead of asking 15-20 different superficial interview questions that generate canned responses, let’s ask very few – but dig deeply into each one.

One of the most significant reasons behind hiring failure is the lack of time invested in conducting a rigorous and probing interview.

When should you STOP asking the 20 standard tribal interview questions, and STOP accepting superficial responses?

One Simple Thing CEOs Can Do To Improve Interviewing

Q. Are there any tricks to improving the interviewing in our company?

 I wouldn't call it a trick, but there is one thing that impacts interviewing more than anything else and when properly handled can literally change interviewing overnight. The power of  first impressions.  Few things impact the interview more than the interviewer’s first impression of the candidate.

Often the first impression will drive the interview. It can set the tone for the interview before the interview even begins.  A strong first impression can result in an easy interview with soft ball questions. A negative first impression may result in a difficult interview or very short interview since the interviewer has already decided that this is not the right person and they haven't even left the lobby.

I suggest training yourself and your managers to be aware of the power of the first impression. Everybody has first impressions. I have had over 10,000 interviews in my life and I still have first impressions. Only a robot wouldn't have them. The issue is how do we deal with them? I have learned that regardless of a positive or negative first impression I set that aside and still conduct a probing in-depth interview. At the end of that interview I will revisit my first impression to determine if it is still valid. Over half the time I discover that the first impression is not valid and the person can not only do the job, but has such great strengths that they are able to overcome any negative first impression. You could lose a great candidate for the wrong reason.

It all goes back to getting your managers properly trained. Teach them to set aside their first impressions, conduct thorough in-depth probing interviews, and then decide if the first impression is still valid. This trick, as you call it, will dramatically impact your hiring.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard