Hiring Sales People, Part One

Hiring is hard, I would know. I have completed the hiring song and dance for more candidates than I care to count, across more roles pertaining to sales and marketing than I knew could possibly exist when I started my career. Despite countless resources available for employers and candidates alike, it still seems like a new unlock for success on either side is discovered every quarter. As business evolves, it only makes sense for hiring processes to also evolve.

In looking back on what skills I have had to hone to ensure top talent within my teams, I keep coming back to one precise moment in my interview process that has created a conversational fork in the road. This is the portion of the interview that has always made my co-interviewers cringe; however, there has been no clearer way for me to separate candidates into those that have a high success rate within my company and coaching style, and those that have read copious articles on interview techniques. This step in the interview is what I like to call “the feedback portion”.

Many times, all parties involved in a hiring interview forget that courtesy should be prioritized over politeness. We forget that we are all opting into, at the foundation, a business transaction. While it is important for us to be selling our brands and cultures to our candidates, it is just as important for us to be honest about what we are expecting from them-growth; measurable, forecastable, calculated growth.

With growth comes feedback. Rather than prompting your candidate with a, “How would you handle this situation?” question and ending the investigation with their answer, why not move forward with seeing how they would operate within the role? Offer feedback and insight the same way you would if they were already functioning within the role. Issue praise, lift the hood on blind spots within their process and response, and then ask them to tackle a similar scenario again. Their potential for success lies in how they respond. If they give the same roadmap, it would be tough for them to recapture my attention as a potential fit. If they integrate the feedback they were offered, I will move forward with asking them more complex propensity based questions. If they use my feedback, and then build on their response, bingo. These folks are the folks you want to invest additional interview time with for deep dives in experience, capacity, and culture.

Hiring is hard, but it doesn’t have to be discouraging. Rarely do we feel comfortable with exposing our blind spots as a candidates, or communicating our most basic expectations as a company to potential talent. In prioritizing our politeness and niceties, we are making hiring harder than it needs to be. There is no better time to set the tone on what a company expects from its candidates than in the interview. A first impression is hard to rewrite, so make sure you are leading the conversation with what matters most to your brand. Keeping the interview authentic to what a candidate can expect in the workplace will help ensure your talent stays on brand, and is prepared from day one to make the company mission their own.