7 Ways to Hire Better Employees
By David Pearce, President, SalesTestOnline.com
While obviously not a definitive list, the following 7 things can be implemented in your employee screening today. Costs are negligible.
1. Sell me the pencil!
Old time sales managers had it right when they made job applicants sell them the pencil (or stapler, chair etc.). What could be a better indicator of how a sales person will sell than to be suddenly asked to do a short sales presentation. Perhaps give the applicant 10-15 minutes to look at a brochure on your products/services and then ask him to sell it to you. Obviously you are not looking at whether he has a grasp of the subject or has knowledge of the technicalities. These can be taught. You are looking for the raw material. Does he look you in the eye? Notice his body language. Is he able to relate the information to benefits to you? How does he react when you challenge him? Does he crumble or show resistance and assertiveness? Does he attempt to close you?
2. Call me!
If your business requires doing phone work, and what business does not today, doesn't it make sense to have the applicant do some sort of phone presentation along the lines of the previous simulation? Why not have the applicant go into another office and call to make an appointment with you. If this is too tough for him how do you think he will react to having to do this on a daily basis to sell for you? Again, you are not looking for a handle on his technical qualities so much as phone manner, communications abilities, how he reacts to a little rejection and whether he asks for the appointment.
3. Write me. Better yet email me!
Since we are making our applicants do the work why not take it a step further. Give each applicant the very same assignment. Specify a deadline of say 4pm on Friday afternoon. Have each one email you a one pager on why they are the best person for the job. If the applicant does not even bother to send you anything then that is obviously telling. With the others you will gain valuable insight into how they follow very simple direction, their response to a clear deadline, their ability to present their thoughts and ideas in writing and how compelling they can make the argument that they are the best for the job. You might even find out something about their computer literacy.
4. Be consistent with your questions!
Depending on how much time you have, find 4 or 5 questions that you ask everybody. Make sure you ask those questions of every single applicant. Document the response to each and apply some sort of rating system to each answer. Knowing the specifics of the questions being asked and knowing what you thought of their answers at the time will make it much easier when you sort through the information later.
5. Be clear in the role you want them to play!
Yes, you want them to sell but not all sales roles are the same. Is the job new business development? Customer service? Is it some type of combination? Are you expecting him to prospect? Is the rejection rather harsh? Are leads provided? If you know what role he is to play then you will have a better handle on the kind of person you need for the role. This will bring into better focus the relative fit of various job applicants. For example, as a general rule sales roles that require the ability to prospect require sales people that have a large ego, are very assertive and dislike rules, details and direction. Don't expect this kind of person to take kindly to a lot of procedures, policies, hand holding, and paper work. Each sales role is different and each sales person is different. It's all about matching the person to the role.
6. See the opportunity from their perspective!
This covers a lot of ground but as a general guideline if the applicant sees the position as a great opportunity, that is a good thing. I would rather work with an under qualified person who sees the job as a step up than an over qualified person who sees the job as a step down. If the applicant views the job as a great opportunity he is more likely to be committed to the position and to work hard to develop his skills and to stay in the position. An over qualified person while having the ability to do the job may not use his full ability since he sees the job as "beneath" him and is a turnover risk because he will likely jump at the next opportunity that comes along that is in keeping with his former experience. The qualifier to this is if the role you are offering is a short-term position leading to greater responsibility.
7. Test them! You should expect me to suggest testing. That is the business we are in.
Seriously though, the aspect of the applicant that will most often determine his success or failure has to do with his underlying personality traits. Skills, training and product knowledge are very easily measured and/or taught. His underlying personality, while the critical determining success factor is also hard to measure because applicants are often "playing the role" to get the job. Without our test or some other such test you can be easily fooled. An added benefit of our system is that your job will be custom profiled to determine it's necessary success factors. You will also be given areas to focus on in interview questions and reference checking with the result that you will have specific red flags that you will be able to focus on.
David Pearce is the President of SalesTestOnline.com. Established in 1986, SalesTestOnline.com is North America's #1 provider of pre employment assessment testing of sales candidates as well as sales profiling tools used to evaluate sales employees for sales competency. SalesTestOnline.com has over 1400 satisfied customers (97% re-order rate) who use our personality sales test to measure sales aptitude when hiring. Our online sales assessment test is customized to your unique criteria, fully automated, instantaneous, extremely accurate and very economical.
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