How to Hire in Our New Remote-​Work World

BY C. Lee Smith
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If you’re like the most sales managers, you’re still adjusting to the new normal. That means learning how to hire in our new remote-​work world. Don’t stress. You’ll get a handle on how to proceed by defining what you're looking for and by using the right sales skills assessment solution.

Why You Need to Change Your Hiring Process

Most sales managers are accustomed to the traditional hiring process. When they have an open position, they let the HR department know what they need. They might reach out to a few potential candidates they’ve been keeping an eye on. And they might ask a few trusted colleagues for recommendations.

In the past, you were able to bring a candidate to the office to be interviewed by several team members. You watched the person interact with waiters at restaurants. And you got a sense of the in-​person experience your clients would encounter when they did business with your prospective new sales rep.

If you’re following this pattern, you’re likely to end up hiring reps who are similar to your current staff. That result may not be good enough to help you through the sales challenge you’ll be facing in the next year and beyond.

The Challenges of Hiring Now

Hiring a rep for an indefinite remote-​work position has changed everything. The good news about the COVID-​19 pandemic is you have more sales rep candidates to choose from. And you don’t have to worry about the expense and complications of relocating your ideal candidate once you onboard them.

What’s more difficult now? Your parameters about your ideal candidate have changed. You need to know how well this person will perform in a remote-​work business. Are they comfortable in environment that requires more outreach via email and video chat with clients and prospects? Do they possess the kind of hustle that ensures they won’t require constant supervision? Will they find a way to fit with the team despite not being able to meet them in person?

The answers to these kinds of questions are available in the results of a comprehensive sales skills assessment. To find the candidates who best meet your current needs, analyze this information before you invite a candidate to a video interview. Interviews are time consuming and the outcomes don’t ensure that you’ll get the best fit for your organization.

One problem with virtual interviewing is that internal staff members may not be comfortable with the process. “Some candidates get hired at companies because no one strenuously objects anywhere in the process,” notes Robert Glazer. If you ask candidates to take a sales skills assessment before the interview, you’ll have an opportunity to weed out individuals who aren’t optimal for the kind of product you sell or the customers you sell to.

How to Hire in Our New Remote-​Work World

Knowing the right questions to ask during an interview can be challenging, especially if you’re new to the process. To some extent, a question and answer session during an interview can be an organic process as you explore a particular topic with a candidate. Sales managers often have go-​to questions they ask every candidate. “Where do you see yourself in a year, or five years?” is a favorite question, according to the results of our Voice of the Sales Manager survey. The candidate’s answers to those questions tells you a bit about their personal aspirations. You need to know more, especially about how they would fit into your team.

In other organizations, interviewers must follow a prescribed set of questions. They aren’t allowed to deviate from the prepared script. That approach may work well when you’re hiring for the same position over and over again. Not every organization is in that situation.

When you use the custom-​generated questions that are based on the results of a candidate’s sales skills assessment, you have an opportunity to dig deeper. If a candidate has scored low for a work tendency such as collaboration, a sales skills assessment solution should highlight the issue. You may like other aspects about the candidate’s profile and decide to interview them. In that case, personalized interview questions that specifically target their collaboration ability will give you more insight into whether that tendency will be an issue in your department.

COVID-​19 has made all of our jobs more challenging. You can reduce those challenges and improve your hiring outcomes, by being mindful of your process and making necessary adjustments.