If you’ve done any hiring lately, you may have noticed that it seems like salespeople have gotten interview training. They know what questions you’re going to ask, and they have practiced how to answer them in the best manner.
Making it worse, salespeople tend to be naturally good at interviews. They are used to selling products and services, and it’s easy for them to apply those same skills to selling their abilities. They can sometimes charm you into forgetting you’re trying to interview them.
If you want to be able to make the best sales hires, you as a manager need some interview training of your own. Here are five elements to consider.
5 Interview Training Tips for Sales Managers
1. Use an interview scorecard.
Rather than asking random questions based on someone’s resume, develop an interview scorecard for the specific position and ask all candidates the same questions. This will allow you to make better comparisons between candidates with different backgrounds.
Use a simple scoring system in your interview scorecard, and you’ll immediately see the best candidates rise to the top. You can then compare the more qualitative differences to identify the best hires.
2. Conduct group interviews.
Rather than interviewing candidates one-on-one, it’s best to identify a panel of 3-4 people who can interview your pre-screened candidates. Because everyone comes in with their own preferences and biases, this can help you get a better perspective.
Do some initial interview training and make sure everyone conducting the interview is using the interview scorecard, and that they’re all scoring each candidate in each area. When you debrief the interviews, look for areas where you’ve given the candidates different scores and discuss them as a team before aligning on a score. Your colleagues may help you with any blind spots you have.
3. Ask trusted partners and clients to interview sales candidates.
As you’re moving through the interview process, it’s a good idea to get feedback from people with a completely different point of view – your partners and clients. If they can’t connect with your candidates, your prospective clients won’t either.
Since they’re doing you a favor, it’s harder to give partners and clients any interview training. Still, make sure you take the time to fully explain the scope of the position (what they’ll be selling, who they’ll be selling it to, etc.), and make yourself available to brainstorm potential questions and strategies.
4. Use behavioral and personality assessments.
To add more perspective, use behavioral and personality assessments as part of your hiring process. These can help you identify a candidate’s potential strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they would fit into your team.
We haven’t seen any assessments that provide enough information to replace a great interview process, but they can complement any hiring process. Choose a simple assessment such as DISC or Meyers-Briggs that is easy for you and your candidate to understand.
5. Conduct a chemistry test as the last step in your process.
In order to throw candidates out of their interview training mode and evaluate their natural skills, it can be helpful to conduct a simple chemistry test. We ask candidates to conduct a simple four-part presentation about themselves for this test.
The purpose of the presentation isn’t necessarily to learn about the topics discussed, but it provides great insight into a person’s communication and presentation ability. The four areas we ask about are core values, personal/professional wins, unpleasant tasks they’re willing to do, and areas of passion.
You’ll see how candidates react when they’re slightly uncomfortable, and you’ll learn about them as well.
I hope these 5 areas are helpful for you as you improve your interview training process! For a deep dive into hiring salespeople, check out our resource below.