One Big, Juicy Interview Question

When you’re looking to add a sales professional to your team, you can expect a certain amount of smoke and mirrors. After all, these are candidates who presumably make a living selling, so they’re skilled in putting the best face on things … including their own track records. How do you separate the real sales pros from the “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” set? Is there one question that will tell you most of what you need to know as a hiring manager? Yes, there is.

Try leading off your next interview with the following. You might be surprised at just how revealing it is in those first precious moments of meeting a potential hire:

“Tell me about your current position – your territory, quota, customer base, metrics and expectations, and how you’re doing against those goals.”

That’s a whole lot going on in one question, to be sure. But note that it goes well beyond the standard, “Tell me about your current position,” and puts some very specific criteria on the table.

Those expectations require candidates to slow down, think, sort through a complex, multi-part question, stay on track, organize their thoughts, come up with specific numbers, and brag about their successes against their goals. And you’ve just accomplished two things: forcing them to think on their feet, just like a real sales situation, and ascertaining that their dazzling personality has some real numbers behind it.

Their answer might be 5 minutes long or more, and that’s ok. What you’re looking for are specifics: Do they know their own numbers? Goals? Expectations? And do they know where they stand in comparison?

Ask this first and you’ll very quickly define just who you’re dealing with.