Attract Top Talent by Preparing Ahead of the Interview

Most people heading to a job interview know that preparation is critical to make a good impression and increase the chance of getting a good offer. Because of this, candidates take time to ensure they are ready, doing research on the company and devising answers to potential questions. On the flip side, interviewers within an organization should also take time to prepare to interview a prospective hire.

Qualified candidates can be difficult to find. You don’t want to squander an opportunity to make a good hire by not being prepared or not making a good impression during the interview. Hiring managers need to understand the stakes are high, particularly in revenue-generating sales positions. Ultimately, time and money are wasted if you struggle to hire qualified candidates due to poor interviewing or a bad offer.

Start with a Clear Description

A critical element that is often overlooked in the small to medium sized business market is that job descriptions and duties may not be clearly documented and well understood across both sides of the interview table. Likewise, in a larger corporate environment, the HR department may not fully understand the details of the position, so specifics get lost in translation.

Data has proven the correlation between poorly written job descriptions and higher turnover. This can easily stem from mutual frustration at expectations not being met by employers or their new hires. To attract “A players,” a hiring manager must have a detailed job description that clearly identifies job duties, scope of work, and expectations.

Ask Questions and Actively Listen to the Answers

Once you have a solid job description written, strategically think about the qualifications necessary to fulfill the role. Use this information to create questions that go below the surface. Questions should vary from position to position within an organization because the qualifications for roles are different.

Don’t focus on their past experience or other information that can be gleaned from their resume; aim to dig deeper.

Here are some example questions to use as a framework to help you dig deeper when talking with a potential candidate:

  • What are some obstacles you have been able to overcome?
  • Can you succinctly describe a complex issue that you are knowledgeable about?
  • How does this position fit into your long-term career goals?
  • What mistakes have you made and what did were lessons learned from these experiences?
  • How do you handle conflict within your team or with a client?
  • Can you share an example of a work success that demonstrates teamwork and group interaction?

The ultimate goal is to gain a sense of the traits of the candidates including what drives and motivates them through their answers to the questions related to the position. Industry knowledge can be taught, and candidate mindset is a better indicator of success.

Download our free guide, A Simpler Way to Recruit and Hire Top Sales Talent, to get started on the path to finding your next top performer.

Five Mistakes That Keep You From Finding the Best Salesperson

Assembling the best possible sales team can be a gamechanger for your business. But like most things in life, it doesn’t just happen. Locating, recruiting, and hiring top sales talent requires planning, ingenuity, expertise, and focused action. To thrive in competitive hiring markets, you need to create a value proposition that attracts highly qualified sales candidates. Bear in mind, though: Your company is not the only one out there looking.

So what can you do to give yourself the proverbial leg up on the competition and guarantee that you will successfully identify and attract the best sales talent? Start by avoiding these common pitfalls that keep businesses from hiring the optimal candidate.

Mistake # 1 Your Ideal Candidate Profile is Unclear

Can candidates easily decipher what qualities, experience, aptitudes, attitudes, and skillsets are required to be successful in the role? If not, you may waste time talking to the wrong candidates, leading to frustration on both sides of the table. Writing an effective ideal candidate profile for a sales position is critical.

Additionally, the scope of the position should concisely indicate what an employee is responsible for in their role, as well as the nature of the work environment. While clearly outlining desired traits and responsibilities won’t alone enable you to hire the best salesperson, it will help you build a stellar candidate pool.

Mistake # 2 Your Company Brand is Weak

Strong companies understand that branding goes hand in hand with creating a good company culture, so remember that your company brand needs to be more than simply creating an appealing footprint for clients. Cultivate a positive culture that is reflected throughout your brand. Doing so will reduce turnover by creating happier salespeople. And happy employees are not only more likely to remain with your company longer; they are more productive and tend to create more positive experiences for your clients. In short, a strong brand creates a win-win situation. You get more qualified sales candidates who will perform better for a longer period of time.

But managing your brand goes beyond what happens inside the walls of the company. Sites such as Yelp, Facebook, and Glassdoor allow people to post employment feedback about your company, including management style, benefits, and compensation. If a revolving door of salespeople is reflected in the form of negative reviews, potential employees may not consider your company a good place to work.

Mistake # 3 You Are Valuing the Wrong Skills – or Ignoring the Right Ones

While technical skills are important to employee success, soft skills are equally critical. Mindset accounts for 80% of success whereas skillset makes up the other 20%. Obviously, this does not mean every potential sales hire has to be a happy-go-lucky ball of sunshine. But it does mean a candidate’s personality and mindset play roles in who will be a good fit, so keep those things in mind during the interview. Also, valuing interpersonal skills such as conflict resolution or emotional intelligence can play a vital role in finding the right candidates.

Taking into account how a potential hire will work within your organization is vital. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current sales team also enables you to identify your needs and find the best fit. The right candidate needs personality and/or character traits that match the demands of the job.

Mistake # 4 Your Interview is Ineffective

An old computer programming phrase can easily be applied to interviewing candidates: garbage in, garbage out. It means that concentrating on the wrong data will lead to the wrong results. The interview process for sales jobs can be easily sabotaged by underprepared, distracted, careless, or indifferent interviewers.

The best way to gauge a candidate’s aptitudes, qualifications, and skills is to use behavior-based testing alongside insightful questions designed to measure core competencies. Far too many sales managers believe they can pick good candidates based on their gut feelings, and unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

Mistake # 5 Your Sales Hiring Process Prevents Retention

Hiring and retention are really two sides of the same coin. Paying attention to one without also taking care of the other is like sailing in a leaking boat: No matter how much you bail out the water, the situation will not improve until you find and fix the leak that is causing the problem. For your hiring process, the first step in “fixing the leak” is to improve employee retention, and it needs to start even before your new hire does. A comprehensive and well-designed onboarding plan helps new employees know what to expect and prepares them to hit the ground running. It sets clear expectations, provides necessary information and training, and helps them to forge relationships within your company, ultimately improving company culture.

Another simple way to “fix the leak” and invest in your company culture is to survey your employees to create mutually beneficial solutions. Cultivating a company culture that focuses on making everyone feel valued and empowered can dramatically improve morale, productivity, and employee turnover rates.

Hiring the best salesperson for your team does not happen by accident. It is a deliberate process that requires attention, ingenuity, and planning. Avoiding these common mistakes is just the first step in building the best possible sales team to drive your revenue. Download our free ebook, How to Recruit, Hire, and Onboard Top Sales Performers, to get started on the path to finding your next top performer.