How to Interview and Hire Great People Especially in Sales

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Interviewing is one of the most important skills in management and yet have you ever taken a class or even read a book on how to do it effectively? Below are many of the most important areas and specific questions all of which should be asked of every candidate you are looking to hire.

A common tactic in improving sales teams of any size is to prune the under performers on an annual basis and bring in top performing talent from competition. I have rarely seen sales teams that couldn’t stand for a little rearranging.

My first boss told me, “Mark, people are either turkeys or eagles, and they pretty much stay that way all their life. Don’t hire people that have been a turkey at any of their positions hoping they won’t be a turkey for us. Only hire eagles that have been eagles all their life, and you can do that by asking about their every job.” So, here are the best questions for the experience side of the interview:

• In just the next 10 to XX minutes, tell me about every job you’ve ever had with increasing detail as we get to the present.

• Most liked job? Least? Why?

• Work responsibilities normally expected of you in sales positions but yet you found least satisfying?

• What do you want to avoid in your next job?

• When considering different opportunities what things are you looking for?

• Would you explain how you came to leave your last few jobs?

• What compliments have you received for your good work?

• What criticisms have you received? How’d you feel? Were they fair?

• What type of training or coaching would you most benefit from?

• What kind of supervision brings out the best in you?

• Rate your previous bosses. Best? Worst?

• Describe two of your biggest accomplishments and two of your biggest disappointments.

• Describe what you consider to be the ideal job.

Next you must discern how this person will tackle their prospective role. Here are sample questions for this facet of the interview:

• How would you manage yourself in this role?

• What would be your sales targets?

• What would be your measures of weekly and monthly success?

• What do you feel are your greatest strengths?


• When have you been the most bored? Why?

You need to understand the whole person; here are a few questions to get to the personal side:

• What does your spouse think are your strengths and weaknesses?

• How does your spouse feel about the work you have been involved in?

• In what group activities are you involved?

Leadership roles?

• When you took your present job, what were your goals, how have they changed?

• What type of position would you like to hold several years down the road? What are you aiming for eventually? How do you plan to get there?

• What level of income do you hope to be earning in two years? Five years?

• How flexible are you to work extra if needed?

• Are there any hours you wouldn’t be available?

• Ask about each critical success factor you feel is key to them successfully staying on for years to come.

If you become a masterful interviewer and check references you can successfully grow any business at will.

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