Do You Need a New Go-​To Interview Question?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Do you need a new go-​to interview question? Maybe so — especially if your last sales hire turned out not to fit into your organization as you’d hoped. Now may be one of the best times in a decade to hire sales talent, but it’s easy to make an expensive mistake, unless you use the right tools. You can improve your hiring outcomes by asking great interview questions and by using sales skills assessments.

The Value of Sales Skills Assessments

Some sales organizations ask their candidates to take basic sales skills assessments. The results of these assessments reveal which candidates have the skills to successfully sell. These candidates may score high when measured for their ability to target and prospect, ask discovery questions, write email messages, and close deals. Using these kinds of assessments is a good first step.

Organizations that take their assessment requirements to the next level will achieve better hiring results. Why? Because they consider factors beyond basic selling skills. Comprehensive sales aptitude assessments will reveal which candidates fit best into the open position and with the manager and the organization. Keep in mind that not all sales reps perform poorly because of an issue with their sales skills. Our Voice of the Sales Rep research shows that nearly 25% of reps have left a sales group because they didn’t like their direct manager.

Other times, reps can’t fit into an organization. Maybe they don’t believe in the mission of the company or the benefits of the product they’re selling. Before long, you’ll notice a lack of engagement. Despite your best efforts, this employee isn’t able to sell at the same level as everyone else on the team. Analyzing the results of sales aptitude assessments will help identify candidates with a better fit to your job, team, and company and help you avoid the poor engagement problem.

Asking the Right Go-​To Interview Question

The best way to improve your hiring efficiency is to ask your top candidates to take your assessments before you decide who you will interview. The assessment results help hiring managers weed out the candidates who won’t be a good match. The results can also help you frame the kinds of questions you should ask during the interview.

Some hiring managers have their favorite go-​to questions for interviews. For example, Mary Barra, the CEO General Motors asks this question: “What three adjectives would your peers use to describe you?”

In her Inc. column, Judith Humphrey explains that a candidate’s answer to the Barra question reveals the level of collegiality. Sales professionals should possess sufficient collegiality with team members. If they’re aloof or secretive, their co-​workers may not feel comfortable seeking their help or sharing their expertise when it’s necessary.

A candidate’s answer to this question also tells you something about their self-​awareness. If they claim to be very sociable, but the results of their assessment show they score low on this workplace tendency, you should ask additional questions to get to the truth.

In addition to the question posed by Mary Barra, consider using custom-​generated interview questions from your sales aptitude assessment system. A comprehensive assessment system will present questions based on how the candidate scores in terms of behavioral tendencies, motivation and natural people skills. The answers you get will help you make a more informed hiring decision.