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Designing An Effective Interview For Sales Recruitment

At the heart of most businesses is sales and many companies rely on their sales teams and their respective sales managers to meet their quotas and positively impact the growth and scale of the business. As such, the more the company grows in size and coverage, the sales team also needs to grow comparatively to meet the increasing demand. And the task of salespeople recruitment falls onto the lap of the sales manager.

However, because these managers specialize in selling and persuading sales leads, hiring new talent isn’t often their forte because recruitment is, in a sense, “buying,” which is out of their league. So, to help you improve sales recruitment and selection, we’ll be tackling one of the most important steps in the process — the interview.

Start With The Interview Setting

People often forget that the setting can affect an interview, and choosing the right one can help stimulate free discourse and a proper conversation. Your surroundings will dictate the interview’s flow and feel, and if constant distractions are always present, this will inhibit the effectiveness. Your questions will miss the mark, and you won’t get anything meaningful out of it.

  • No Interruptions: A proper interview setting is a room or area where the interviewer/sales manager is unlikely to be interrupted by his team or colleagues. It will help keep the focus on the interview and not have anybody’s mind wander off elsewhere. If not possible, notify that visitors and interruptions are barred. 
  • Encourage Natural Discussion: You don’t want your interviewee to be on edge and run the risk of losing a potentially strong candidate for your sales team. So, avoid interviewing in a huge room with just the both of you. Choose just the right size to encourage natural discussion.
  • Avoid “Too Formal” Atmosphere: While the interview table may seem like it has zero effect, a large and overreaching table for an interview will create a “too formal” atmosphere. You’ll want a more relaxed, informal setting to get the most out of the interview.

Establishing Rapport

The interviewer also aids in establishing rapport, and there’s a lot you can do as a sales manager right at the start to build a connection with the interviewee. For starters, you should be the one to bring the candidate into the interview room to reduce status differentials and build rapport.

  • Opening The Conversation: When opening the conversation, begin with easy-to-answer questions even if they aren’t directly correlated with the job description to give them a chance to talk and gain confidence for the more challenging questions. 
  • Stay Open-Ended: Backing up on the previous advice, try to start with more open-ended questions instead of closed ones early in the interview to give them a large scope of talking points. Sure, closed questions are inevitable, but a series of them make it difficult to relax and extract meaningful answers.
  • Be Relaxed And Courteous: Finally, on the topic of establishing rapport, you need to be relaxed and courteous. You don’t want to come off as intense and overpowering because that will make them feel anxious.

Employ Different Techniques

Now that you’ve found the right interview setting and successfully established rapport, you’ll want to encourage the interviewee to talk about themselves and give you a baseline on their character, work ethic, and behavior. And a huge part of these techniques requires you to be a good listener.

#1 Playback Method

As the name suggests, the playback method means repeating the last few words of that candidate’s answer to elicit the reason or get a more meaningful explanation. For example, when a candidate says, “I previously worked at ABC company, but I didn’t like it very much.” You can follow up with, “You didn’t like it very much?” And by doing so, you might find out what troubles the candidate may have or different skills they can offer, like repair management modules for after-sales.

#2 Feedback Loop

People like getting feedback, and in an interview, positive reaffirmation or showing obvious interest in what the candidate shares act as a reward. This will help instill more confidence in the interviewee and encourage them to talk more freely and touch deeper topics. So, try to squeeze in a nod or encouraging phrases like, “Yes, I see.”

#3 A Bit Of Silence

While silence can potentially work against building rapport, it can help signal the candidate that his/her answer was uninformative or unsubstantial to the question. In these situations, your candidate will most likely take not and add more, giving you extra information. Just try not to abuse the silent treatment.

#4 Neutral Questions

One principle of a good interview is asking neutral questions rather than leading questions because this can often give a biased standpoint and lead to limited and unhelpful responses. For example, say, “What do you feel about the products we offer?” instead of “I’m sure you’ll have zero problems with selling our product?”

Effectiveness Varies

Overall, try to mix and match this advice and techniques appropriately as you see fit, but don’t forget that salespeople’s effectiveness is different and varies. Candidates can have varying working methods, levels of independence, and reasons for getting into sales, directly affecting how they stay motivated and execute their job well.

Meta title: Sales Recruitment And Selection: Making The Perfect Interview

Meta desc: Apart from selling, sales managers also take on the role of salesperson selection and recruitment to expand their team and hire new talent. Keep reading and learn how you can design an effective interview for sales recruitment.

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