Superstar Selection

Take your time interviewing and hiring your next rep—it will pay off for years to come.
May 01, 2005

Joe Renda
"You're fired!" It's a simple phrase that everyone is using, and it's put Donald Trump back into the spotlight. However, the most important statement you will ever make as a manager is "you're hired." With all the pressures of the job and the limited time you have for interviewing, it is easy to rush through this process to fill a slot. Stop yourself—hiring a good person is one of the most important decisions you will make as a manager.

Matt Moyer
Pre-interview Preparation Just as you expect your representatives to pre-call plan, you too should properly plan for an interview.
  • Screen candidates. A quick phone call or a scan of the resume can often help you discern whether taking the time to interview a particular candidate is warranted. Look for appropriate credentials, any major gaps or missing dates, and strong references.
  • Ask key questions. What two or three skills should candidates possess? What competencies does your company require? Do you hire for these or can you develop them? What type of personality fits this territory, team, or district?
  • Review corporate interview guides and guidelines, and prepare interview questions.
  • Thoughtfully select the proper venue for the interview.

Conducting the Interview The most important thing to do is make candidates feel comfortable and relaxed so they demonstrate their true personalities. Following are some tips to incorporate into the interview process:

  • Set the expectations for the interview upfront by describing the interview process—for example, "I will begin by asking you to summarize your resume; I will be taking notes during the interview and may not make sufficient eye contact."
  • Ask specific, open-ended, and behaviorally based questions.
  • Bridgeville, Pennsylvania-based Developmental Dimensions International is known for the STAR (situation, tasks, actions, and results) technique:
  • Ask candidates to describe the specific situation or task, what action they took, and what the result was.
  • Rate candidates' responses on a scale of one to five based on relevance, how recent the situation was, and the quality of the response.
  • Calculate answers at the end of the interview to formulate an objective score.

It's a good idea to include multiple interviews in the hiring process, the first being focused on information sharing or gathering (focus on the candidate) and the second being more sales-focused (focus on the job). The third could be a team interview in which a few colleagues participate (focus on fit). Take-aways from the interview may include:
  • Level of preparation. How much did candidates know about the job, the company, and the products they would be promoting?
  • Impact. What impression did they make? How were candidates dressed? Were they confident? Passionate? You can't coach fire and passion—you must hire it!
  • Body language. How did they express themselves? How did they handle difficult questions? What auras did they give off? If they can sell themselves, they can sell your products.
  • Thought processes. The more candidates talk, the better you will get to know them and how they think. Ask a question and let them respond.
  • The close. If candidates don't ask you for the job, how can you expect them to close a customer?

Post-interview Follow-up Actions do speak louder than words; you can determine a lot about candidates by the quality of their follow-up:

  • How soon did you get thank-you notes? If you asked candidates to get back to you with something, was it done quickly?
  • Set up future interviews in which candidates make presentations on one of your products, a product they have promoted, or something they are passionate about.

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