Interview red flags for salespeople

Salespeople, really great salespeople, are hard to find. According to ManpowerGroup’s 2016 Talent Shortage Survey, sales jobs are the third-hardest position to fill worldwide. And with time to fill benchmarks from Workable indicating that, in 2016, sales roles in the UK took an average of 47 days to fill, it would come as no surprise if businesses were hiring less “”suitable”” candidates. To discover more about how to build a detailed and robust interview process,click here to read part 1 of this blog series.

(Image credit: Workable)

But before you dive into your CV pool and start interviewing candidates you think might be good choices, take a step back. The wrong hire could cost your business up to – or more than – £14,000 according to HR Zone.

To discover how a fixed-fee recruitment approach can help you find the right fit for your business, click here.

Also, if that candidate ends up leaving or getting fired, it’ll take even more time to replace that person and more money spent on the recruitment campaign… something you could have avoided if you went for the top candidates in the first place!

Therefore, to mitigate disruption and costs to the business, it’s important to identify interview red flags as early as possible to determine whether or not a candidate will fit in with the team. Knowing those red flags, however, is key, so here are a few things to look out for when interviewing potential salespeople.

  • Late to the interview

If candidates are late to the interview, it could mean that they have trouble managing their time. For salespeople, time is quite literally money. They run on a tight schedule and have targets that they need to hit on a regular basis. Poor timekeeping skills will have an adverse effect on their ability to do their job properly.

  • Inappropriate interview attire

Dress to impress. When candidates come to the interview looking unkempt or dressed in casual clothes it gives the indication that they are lazy and don’t care. Of course, in the modern work era, smart casual attire has become more and more acceptable, but at the first interview, it’s important to dress smart!

  • They haven’t done enough research

Eager candidates will do their research days (if not weeks) in advance, getting to know the intricacies of your business. Diligent research is the mark of a good salesperson; after all, they spend a large amount of their time prospecting and investigating potential sales leads online and offline. Don’t just ask if they know about your business – ask them to explain your business to you and the depth of their research will become apparent.

  • Do they know their numbers?

Top salespeople will have a head for figures and sales deals that they have delivered. They’ll be great at quick arithmetic and putting numbers together on the fly.

  • Being vague about results they have helped to achieve, as well as suspicious work history

The idiom “”looks good on paper, but not in practice”” bears truth here. CVs – at most – are just pieces of paper with a bunch of claims written all over them. Only when those claims can be backed up do they become fact! If a candidate’s CV states that they “”achieved X amount of revenue through X deal””, ask them to talk about it. Also, if it says they worked at Google or Microsoft, for example, wouldn’t they be excited to share that with you in detail?

  • They don’t accept feedback or ask questions

Accepting feedback and asking questions are conducive to sales success. Sales roles – by nature – are competitive and setbacks will happen. But feedback is key to learning and improving – and candidates should ask questions on how they can/will develop.

  • They can’t answer the question: “”What is your greatest career achievement?””

Strong salespeople will be able to succinctly and eloquently describe their proudest career moment, backed up with facts and figures. Career achievements are a big deal – and they won’t shy away from talking about them!

  • Weak or inappropriate references

Does what they say about their previous role and contributions to that role match up with their employer’s view? Also, some people give references from previous colleagues. Those are not references but endorsements. References should come from the line manager/manager only!

  • Poor listening skills

It’s not just about talking. Candidates who listen to your questions and provide comprehensive answers are undoubtedly interested in what you have to say and eager to prove themselves. Whereas candidates that don’t listen or repeatedly ask you to repeat the question have their attention elsewhere.

That concludes our interview red flags for salespeople. If you see one or more of these red flags, make a note of it for further discussion with your team after the interview.

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