Sales Recruiting 101: The First In-Person Interview

Make the Most of the First In-Person Interview…Attract Top-Tier Talent the First Time With a Scientifically Backed Process That Gets Results

You’re probably familiar with the common sales recruitment process. 

It typically goes something like this: 

  • The company sends out a boring, automated job board announcement with information about the role and a link to apply online. 
  • They have a generic script of sales candidate interview questions they use for every applicant. 
  • They choose the top 5 candidates and hope 1 of them sticks around past the 90-day mark. 
  • Then they’re surprised when they have low revenue, higher turnover, and offer a lack of consistency for their customers.

When you’re recruiting for your own company, you need to get the best people on board as quickly as possible.

This article will help you use the first interview – along with the right sales candidate interview questions – to improve your ability to recognize (and hire!) top-tier sales superstars for your organization. 

What to do before the in-person sales interview

You should only be interviewing candidates in person who have done well on a phone interview and have successfully completed a sales hiring assessment. At this point, you are waiting for applicants to self-select themselves out of your sales hiring process by failing to meet your expectations.

First impressions count, especially when it comes to first in-person meetings and interviews. Do what you can to set the stage for a successful meeting. Be prepared with the questions you will ask. Don’t be afraid to your applicant…you’ll see why in a bit. 

What questions to ask in a sales interview?

This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? 

We’ve created a helpful list of The 5 Sales Interview Questions You Should Be Asking Your Candidates! that will ensure you’re asking your candidates the right questions.

Beyond that, the most important thing is to ask open-ended sales interview questions. These questions are designed to get them to give you more information about themselves, their background, and their selling style. 

How do they handle questions that reveal weaknesses or inconsistencies? Do they get flustered or are they able to successfully handle the tough questions?

Don’t forget that a huge amount of communication in any interview (or sales situation) is non-verbal. Pay attention to their body language to uncover topics and situations that make them uncomfortable… their words may not reveal their feelings and stress, but their body language sure will!

Put them in a selling situation

Treat the interview like it was a sales call, and they have to sell you on hiring them.

Really, that’s what the entire interview process is. Go into the interview prepared to  Don’t make it easy on them.

Rarely will they go into a sales call that will have the prospect overjoyed to see them. More often than not, they will be dealing with prospects who are tolerating their pitch at best. See how they do under those conditions by simulating them during the interview process. 

Confirm the sales hiring assessment and your findings from the phone interview.

To verify that your hiring assessment is accurate, confirm your findings from the phone interview with the candidate. 

  • Did the candidate answer the sales candidate interview questions like you thought they would?
  • Was there consistency between the previous phone interview and their in-person behavior?
  • Are there any body language issues that came up during the in-person interview?
  • Did he or she seem interested and knowledgeable about the role and company? 
  • Was there anything missing from the discussion? 

If you feel there is something missing or if the candidate doesn’t appear to be the right fit for the role, consider giving them a second chance.

If they can turn around the interview when it starts to go poorly, they’ll be able to do the same thing on a sales call. It is a rare skill to have, and one that we have seen make a huge difference on occasions. 

In fact, one of our clients solved a $1,000,000 hiring mistake when they hired someone who objectively did terribly during the first half of their first in-person interview. 

Give them the chance to “right the ship” if the interview is going poorly. If they come back from that and convince you to move them to the next stage in the hiring process, you can bet your customers and prospects will likely be sold on them too.

Don’t be afraid to ! 

This one is hard for a lot of our clients…that’s one of the reasons they love working with us.

As the interviewer, at this stage, it is your responsibility to be somewhat hard on the prospective salesperson. If they get hired, not all of the potential customers they go to see will be happy to see them. 

Especially if your company has a frequent (or constant) turnover in the sales department…if your new hire is the fifth salesperson the potential customer has met with from the same company in the last nine months, how well do you think they’ll be received?

Prepare them for that, and only hire the ones who can handle it! 

You owe it to the candidates and yourself to only move forward with those who can conduct themselves well when dealing with “less than enthused” prospects and customers…because you know if they’re able to handle a jerk with flying colors, when they get in front of a really nice person, the sale is as good as closed.

Special note: The second in-person interview

This is where you have the chance to sell your top 2-3 candidates on why they should come to work for you and your business!

As sales hiring recruiters, this is where we take a back seat and let the clients shine as they tell the candidate about all the benefits and great points of working with them. Now is the time for the hiring company to sell them on the opportunity to work for them.

And there should only ever be two in-person interviews, maximum! 

We hear stories all the time of people brought back for 5, 6, 7, or more interviews for a position. Top-tier sales superstars do not have time for that! 

In Conclusion

If you’re looking to hire someone for a sales role, the first in-person interview is vital to ensure you choose the right candidates to move forward while eliminating unsuitable candidates. As such, it can feel intimidating…

However, it is the key to hiring the type of sales talent that sticks around to create a huge, positive impact on your business’ revenue and growth. 

If you’re ready to conduct in-person interviews (complete with sales candidate interview questions that help you consistently find top performers for your business), I created a self-paced course that guides you through the whole process! 

Discover more and reserve your spot today by clicking here.

Hiring top-tier sales talent the first time isn’t hard if you know what to do…our scientifically backed sales hiring process will show you the way.

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