Let’s All Work the Interview (Sale) in Business and at Work

I love interviewing and hiring sales folks. Okay, perhaps I’m a bit biased with my own share of sales DNA – it’s a little like hiring experienced hunters from my own tribe.

What I love the most about sales hiring is that the best hunters already know how to do the job / the work in the interview, giving me a generous work sample to extrapolate their potential performance once hired into their new role. If the interview experience is like giving out cookie samples at Costco, a majority of candidates barely bring the cookie crumbs into the interview – and some candidates don’t bring anything at all, effectively wasting everyone’s time on both sides of the interview table. With strong sales hunter candidates, they bring you the whole box of cookies to sample to your heart’s (and company’s) delight.

Great sales hunters apply through your company’s prescribed process; and then follow up with a well-written reach-out email, LinkedIn InMail or other company-specific (hint: do your research!), preferred methods of reach-out to HR and the hiring manager that help authentically and respectfully close a sale (No stalking, please!), indicating, among other success factors:

  • How they meet / exceed the requirements of the job;
  • How excited they are about your company, its products and the shared value proposition;
  • Showing their thoughtful due diligence by identifying both the positional and company needs for success – and how they, as a competitive candidate, can meet / exceed those needs;
  • Their demonstrated tenures of at least 2+ years at their former and current positions, indicating that they have lived out their decisions / accomplishments at each job, and have not just job-hopped for more $$$;
  • Great quantifiable metrics, including but not limited to how they met / exceeded plan; bonuses and sales awards earned;
  • Industry and/or related industry knowledge;
  • Great reputation;
  • Great LinkedIn profile;
  • Excellent references.

As a corporate / employer-side recruiter with 25 years experience and strong sales DNA, it’s vital to walk the talk of sales in the recruiting process in kind, by demonstrating the following traits, and more:

  • Passion for and a sales knowledge of:
    • The company;
    • The product(s);
    • The executive team;
    • The market, and the company’s future therein;
  • A clear, detailed and always-evolving understanding of what the company (the client) needs from its sales team, now and into the future;
  • A strong track record of sourcing and qualifying (passive and active) solid prospects (candidates) who convert into hires (sales);
  • The clear knowledge and acceptance that as a Senior Corporate Recruiter, I am one of the lead sales and PR practitioners for my company;
  • The ability to recognize a sales hunter when I meet one, either in social media, email, the phone or in person;
  • Listening for when the candidate closes the sale of themselves in the interview;
  • The ability to step in and sell the product myself (e.g., also doing the job in the interview).

Not all of us are sales hunters. However, the creative possibilities exist for other functions on both sides of the interview table to integrate work sampling into the interview process, e.g. hiring candidates to do freelance / contract projects with their prospective employer, giving both the employer and the candidate a realistic and potentially more predictive view into what future shared work life might look like. If the employer doesn’t already utilize the freelancing / contractor option to preview a candidate’s work, candidates actually have the free will to make that recommendation themselves as part of the reach-out / pitch to the prospective employer / customer.  And what initiative that will demonstrate, differentiating you from other candidates who just mechanically submit their applications via the Interwebs!

Isn’t doing the work during the interview process a more reliable data point than me asking you what you want to be when (and if) you grow up in 5 years? Or if you were a tree, what tree would you be?

How can we work together to make the sale to meet everyone’s needs on both sides of the interview table, in business and at work?


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