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When I ask sales leaders what the goal of an interview with a sales candidate is they typically say something like, “To find a good sales person for my open position.”  While this answer isn’t wrong, it’s not detailed enough.  After all, without a process of objectives, most sales leaders break down sales candidates by how much they like them.  Likeability is how to win a popularity contest, not a sales position.  Break down sales interviews into manageable goals and make sure that the candidate meets all the requirements.

For most organizations sales interview goals can be broken into 7 categories.  A typical example is:

  1. To assess their demeanor during the interview.
    This one is the easiest to assess.  It’s the likeability scale.
  2. Ability to establish Business Bonding and Rapport?
    Does the prospect build on their likeability?  Are they moving the conversation in a productive direction and strengthening the bond or are they being positive with no real substance to what they are saying?
  3. How do they respond to tough questions?
    Ask some tough questions and see if they get flustered.  Tough questions typically will challenge a statement they’ve made or question their preparedness to take over the position.  If they can’t calmly and rationally answer your tough question, they likely can’t deal with client’s and prospect’s tough questions.
  4. Ability to improvise and think on their feet.
    Your tough question will often validate or invalidate this requirement but be sure to let the sales candidate speak.  Are the responses making sense or are they labored and disjointed?
  5. To detect signs of discomfort with certain topics.
    Introduce several sales related topics and see if the sales candidate backs off of the subject.  Money issues commonly cause discomfort as well as understanding the decision process.  Remember the sales candidate is demonstrating how they sell so if they can’t talk about money or decision processes with you, they can’t with prospects either.
  6. How do they handle stalls?
    Don’t volunteer your interviewing process.  Rather leave it vague and see if they confront the stall.  If a sales candidate leaves without knowing where the opportunity stands, they likely don’t confront prospect stalls and objections.
  7. To decide if this candidate should move onto the next step in this interview process.
    This step should be easy if you’ve used a goal checklist.  If so, then make sure they meet the other six requirements to decide if they move to a next step.  The next step should likely be another interview or a skills assessment.

Having intermediary goals is a great way to objectively access candidates.  When all the sales candidates have a standard checklist it takes gut calls out of the equation and allows for an assessment of how sales candidates handle important aspects of the sales process.

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