A big part of being a good interviewer is asking quality interview questions. It is more important than ever to ensure that the applicant who is interviewing at your company has a good interview experience regardless of whether they end up being employed with you or not. Further to this, the market has tightened considerably this year for high quality sales talent and as a result how you, the interviewer conduct yourself not only is being more highly scrutinized, but can be a determining factor in whether a candidate will accept a position with your company or not.
I can recall a particularly challenging job role that Salexo was given to fill and it required a significant search through targeted candidate approaches (that’s headhunting in plain speak!). Eventually we managed to get 2 candidates who were prepared to open discussions as a tentative expression of interest. You can imagine our dismay when, after the initial conversation, they decided to not pursue the opportunity any further. Both of their primary reasons were due to the questions that were asked by the interviewer. Bear in mind the interviewer was given advance notice that these candidates were approached and were receptive to have a conversation. The interviewer opened both interviews with strong questions regarding why the applicant applied for the role (they didn’t), why they wanted to work for the company (they were not sure they did), and why they wanted to leave their current employer (they did not necessarily want to). To both candidates it demonstrated a complete misread of the scenario and as we all know in sales it is important to read the room. It was clear to the candidates that the hiring manager had a list of questions that they were going to ask no matter what the circumstance.
Whilst it is really beneficial to have a prepared list of questions, it is important to tailor them to the situation. A lot of our clients have 2 distinct formats for a candidate has applied or a candidate that has been approached on their behalf. It is also important to show flexibility in your interview style and allow the interview to have a flow of conversation.
So what about the great interview questions? At least some of your questions should be focused on finding out the real nature of the applicant and give you an insight into their sales approach.
An unusual question to ask is:
- Tell me something about yourself than others may be surprised to know about you.
(This can really transform the interview to a conversation where you learn something very interesting and real which would not normally come up in an interview. Of course you do need to have you answer to this question as well!)
- What aspect/part of the sales process do you think is the most important?
(A great question that gives you insight into the candidate’s understanding of the sales cycle, their ability to articulate their understanding and also the type of sales person they are.
- What do you consider you best Sale?
(Always interesting to hear the answer to this one! It will tell you what is important to the candidate, whether that be particularly challenging sale, a large dollar amount, a long sales cycle and so forth.)
- What is the first thing you would do if you were to start in this role?
(this will give you an opportunity to gauge if the candidate understands the job role they are interviewing for as well as giving you insight into their priorities.)
- What do you like to do outside of work?
(whilst this is not a common question asked in interviews, it is a valuable one. It allows you to connect with the candidate on a more personal level and also get a greater understanding of their ‘why”.)
Feel free to contact us for more questions, especially if you are looking to drill down on a particular attribute that is essential to your hiring process. We would also love to hear any unique questions that you like to ask!