Hiring can be a minefield. Managers of sales organizations understand this better than anyone, since the sales industry sees an average of 20-34% annual staff turnover.
Properly screening candidates goes a long way towards predicting their future performance and commitment to the position. Here are some essentials for screening a salesperson:
- Clearly define the position in the job posting.
Do not use vague or general phrases, such as “seeking a motivated self-starter” or “team player.” The stamina and sociability of a candidate is not something they can self-assess with great accuracy (the tools for assessing these qualities will be mentioned further on). Instead, write a clear, detailed, competency-based job description, including the specifics about the responsibilities and demand of the role, allowing people to self-screen appropriately. If the role demands a lot of prospecting, for example, then any would-be applicants that hate prospecting will screen themselves out of the pool.
- Properly access a candidate’s soft skills.
A CV might tell you what you want to know about a candidate’s education and experience, and references can verify the information. Yet, when it comes to the subtler qualifications of the personality type and work tendencies a position requires, many hiring managers are confined to what they see and hear, which, as most hiring managers know from experience, is not much to go on.
So how can managers accurately assess a candidate’s soft skills? One thing that’s been shown to work is sales personality testing. They are fast, easy and inexpensive to administer, customizable to the specific profile of the sales role, and proven to be highly accurate. Companies like Sales Test Online have streamlined the process, making online sales personality tests an ideal pre-interview screening tool.
- Know the right way to check references.
Not all hiring managers know how to get the most pertinent information from a candidate’s reference. Here are some tips to get the most out of a conversation with a candidate’s reference:
Ask how the reference knows the candidate: this enables you to know that the person you’re speaking to is in an adequate position to evaluate your candidate.
Describe the role and responsibilities, asking the reference if the candidate has had to meet any similar challenges in their previous role.
Avoid broad questions if you want to avoid vague answers. Ask open-ended, but specific questions.
- The Performance Interview
Consider following up on your initial interview with a candidate with a second interview — the performance interview — to test their aptitude for the role. Give the candidate a task, something they'd be asked to do as part of their position within your company and assess how well they manage its execution. This is an excellent opportunity to get a sense of how well a candidate will perform in their new role before making the final decision.
Taking the time to incorporate these steps into your hiring process will save your company time (and money) in the long run. The more careful and effective your screening process, the less likely it is that you’ll have to fill the sale role soon twice (or thrice) within the same year.