Interviewing Skills Training to Unlock the True Potential of Your Organization

Interviewing Skills Training to Unlock the True Potential of Your Organization

Interviewing skills training is important because hiring the wrong person for the job can be a very expensive mistake to make for organizations. The company loses valuable time because it takes a long time to realize that someone was wrong for the job. 

The company may spend months testing and training the employee only to realize they just wasted their investment. The financial cost is obvious – the organization is essentially paying the salary of someone who is of no use to them. 

Then, the company has to start the hiring and training process all over again, which further adds to the costs. It is bad for the person hired as well – it isn’t really their fault; it is an organization’s job to ensure that the person hired is right for the job.

Interviewing Skills Training to Find the Right Candidates

In most cases, the right interviewing skills lead to hiring people who are truly qualified and full of potential. It results in the company performing better, and the person being hired becomes a valuable asset to the company.

Interviewing skills training allows interviewers to understand what they need to probe and what questions they need to ask. It also teaches them about what to look out for and what are some warning signs that a candidate may not be the right person for the job. 

It is an essential skill for any recruitment manager; anyone who is handling recruitment for the company that does not have the right skills will end up filling the company with low-performing employees, which will spell disaster for the company.

Who Needs Interviewing Skills Training?

Any manager that handles hiring and recruitment needs the right interviewing skills training. Most major corporations ensure that all of their managers are properly trained because they know the true cost of hiring the wrong person. The problem is that most people think that they are a good judge of character.

You can easily understand the problem by looking at your personal life. We all had friendships which turned out to be toxic, and many of have made relationship mistakes which resulted in us being with the wrong person. The same is true for professional life as well.We may misread someone and think that they will be an asset of the company when in reality they turn out to be a liability.

The New Parameters of Interviews

Interviewing skills training is also important because the way interviews are conducted is changing. More interviews are being conducted online through video conferencing or on call than ever before. It becomes even harder to judge someone if they are not in the same room as you. 

However, with the right training, a manager will be able to understand and connect with people and accurately assess their real potential for the company. Companies happily pay for this training for their managers because they know that the cost of hiring the wrong person is much higher than what any training would cost.

Interviewing Skills to Hire the Right Sales Reps at the Start

a businessman is lined up at the clearly marked start

If you are a high growth company ready to hire salespeople, make sure that you fine-tune your interviewing skills training first. These new hires are too important to your business success…you have to do it right from the start.

Here are some behavioral interviewing skills tips from honest-to-goodness talent acquisition experts on how they went about interviewing applicants for sales jobs…and did it well.
  1. They screened resumes for the unusual.
    Believing that resumes are of dubious value in talent selection because they often overstate the candidate’s qualifications and give no real sense of a candidate’s values and working style, the interviewers looked for something that piqued their interest. Did the candidate do summer work on a fishing boat in Alaska or with engineers-without-borders in Kenya? It would be interesting to find out what they learned from the experience. Do they collect Japanese block prints or skeet shoot as a hobby? It would be more fun to talk about these topics than “work experience” and they figured they could learn a lot more about candidates’ beliefs, passions and personalities.

  2. They wanted proof in phone interviews that the candidate could sell.
    While many interviewing skills training programs focus on past behavior to judge future performance, these interviewers focused less on what the candidates had done than on what they could do. Could the candidate convince the interviewer they should be hired? Have they done their homework so they know enough about the company to sell it? What can the candidate teach the interviewer? In other words, they wanted the candidates to prove that they could be confident, persuasive and provide value in the present.

  3. They asked the candidate to describe what they would do if they could start a company.
    This question can highlight just how well a candidate would fit in a fast-paced and high growth culture. You can learn about how flexible and agile they can be, how innovative, how able to work in ambiguous situations, how independent, and how resourceful.

  4. As the interviewers were leaning toward a no-hire decision, they gave the candidate a chance to prove them wrong.
    Here is where a candidate really has to stretch…something a real salesperson has to do often. What positive quality did the interviewer overlook? How much does the candidate really care about this particular job and this particular company? What can the candidate offer that no one else can? If they can handle this phase of the interview successfully, they have earned a second look and more complete consideration.

Yes, these are not the typical tips you learn in interviewing skills training. But high growth startup sales cultures require special traits…a willingness to take risks, a passion for the new, a commitment to educate potential buyers, and a dedication to the company even in those lean, early stages.

Interviewing Skills Training for When You Want the Very Best

A business man is climbing stairs labeled "good enough" to "better" to "best"

Would you ever hire anyone but the very best candidate? Interviewing skills training can help you sort through the good enough candidates, through the better hires  and finally identify the very best…the “A” players who will strengthen your organization and enable its success.

First, according to behavior-based interviewing skills training experts you need to know exactly who that ideal candidate would be. Work with the hiring team to design a clear profile of success in the specific job and corporate culture you are hiring for. You can easily figure out what technical capabilities they should have. But we maintain that, even more important than their technical expertise, are their attitude, working style and cultural fit

Over and above these “better” employees is the very best, the one who has all the competencies required, shares the same values and work ethic as the company, and exhibits a high degree of emotional intelligence or EQ. We believe that employees with this rare skill help organizations grow faster than companies without them.

Here, based upon behavior-based interviewing skills training experts, is what they can offer:
  1. A highly developed people sense
    They genuinely care about people and want to understand them better… what makes them tick, what are their passions, and what are their ambitions. Their empathy makes EQ employees highly desirable for key, customer-facing jobs.
  2. A natural ability to lead
    They know how to get along with all types and are people magnets. People like to be with them because they are so good at communicating, solving problems and cooperating with others. They know how to both give and receive feedback and are well respected because they respect themselves.
  3. An overall perspective
    Employees with high EQ seem to be able to capture the essence of a problem easily. They can cut through the people issues to see the root cause. And then they are able to pull together differing factions to focus on common goals and solutions.
  4. Strong interpersonal relationship skills
    Not only will they enhance the relationships within the company, but they also build strong external relationships. They have an innate sense of how to connect with clients and customers so that the relationship is not merely established but grows and is sustained. They help build customer loyalty. What could be more valuable to a business?

Guard Against Hiring a Toxic Employee

cartoon of a manager selecting the next new associate by putting the candidates through an old-fashioned egg race

OK, so presumably you have a more sophisticated process for interviewing and evaluating candidates than this old-fashioned egg race. But how well do you really get to know your interviewees? Are you confident that your interviewing skills training is helping you to ferret out top talent and guard against hiring a bad employee?

Have you noticed how it seems an even mildly irritating, rude person can have a stronger effect on the environment than the nice guys? It’s actually been proven. Don’t risk the organizational culture you have worked so hard to create with even one toxic personality. It will cost you dearly…not only in the negative vibes they spread but in real dollars. While “A” players add to a company’s profit in terms of productivity, a bad employee erases those gains more than two-fold. And that’s not even counting the decrease in their coworkers’ morale and the negative effect on customers.

So let’s agree that bad hires should be avoided by interviewing with the resolve to ferret out bad candidates who display toxic behaviors regardless of their skills and experience. Basic behavioral interviewing skills training can help with tips like the following:

  1. Check with every employee who has come in contact with the job candidate. How, for instance, did they treat the receptionist when they were asked to wait? Or how did they interact with the janitor who could have used help opening the door as they were carrying equipment? You want an employee who is naturally courteous with everyone.

  2. How does the candidate discuss former bosses and coworkers? Do they blame others for their failures? You want a candidate who, though their previous situation may have been difficult, is ready to take responsibility for their share of what went wrong and who is loyal to those who are not present.

  3. Ask questions that uncover how good they are at building relationships or recognizing areas for improvement. Here are a few that can reveal weaknesses…If I talked to Sara (the candidate’s former boss), what would she say about you? What would you like to improve most about the way you interact with others? Tell me about a time when you were under a great deal of stress and how you handled it. Think of a person you found difficult to work with and tell me how you dealt with the situation.

    In each case, probe for further behavior-based competencies so you begin to predict how the candidate would behave in your organization.

  4. Train your team to conduct behavior-based interviews effectively and get them involved. The hire should be a team decision. Establish a structured interviewing process based upon an agreed-upon job profile and see that each interviewer probes for different behaviors and competencies. Set up a common rating scale and then gather to discuss results.

  5. Check references thoroughly and don’t just ask about technical expertise. Find out about the candidate’s attitude, work ethic and behavior on a team.

Once you accept that talent and skill can’t make up for a difficult-to-work-with employee, you can refine your interviewing process to weed out the folks that won’t fit.

4 Sales Interviewing Best Practices to Rise Above the Rest

One red hot air balloon rises above all the others colored grey

In our work with clients who are trying to hire top sales talent for their sales team, we find that they often make the same mistakes over and over again. These are common sales interviewing mistakes that could be overcome with some targeted interviewing skills training. And, if overcome, companies could avoid adding to the unfortunate statistic that has awarded sales the highest turnover rate of more than 20% annually in any industry. 

Come on…you can rise above the rest if you only follow these four best practices for interviewing and hiring top sales talent for your sales team:

  1. Hire for attitude, not industry-specific knowledge.The true fundamental drivers of sales success are often motivation and empathy. These are the qualities that support knowing how to help clients to succeed. You can always teach a new sales rep what they need to know about your markets, products and services, but you cannot always change their attitude.

  2. Don’t hire for their so-called book of business.It is so tempting when you are in a hurry to increase sales to bring someone aboard who promises new clients and valuable contacts with an impressive Rolodex. But rarely is their network as transferable, forthcoming or valuable as you hope. Again, hire for their ability to share in customers’ thoughts and feelings and their innate drive, preparation, dedication and training rather than for their claims of new and easy business.

  3. Simply “liking” a candidate is not enough reason to hire.While cultural fit is certainly important, there should be some objective measure of culture fit rather than the interviewer’s biased assessment if they “like them” or not. Please. You are running a business here, not a popularity or dating contest.  You need to know that your new hire can solve problems and can get things done. Sure, they should be a fit for your sales culture, but they do not need to qualify as your new BFF.

  4. Apply and heed the results of a proven sales assessment tool.Know what critical few sales competencies are needed for success in your specific market and environment. Then find a way to measure how strong candidates are in these few, critical behaviors. It is worth your time and investment to put each candidate through their paces. Rate them objectively so you develop a track record of what works and what doesn’t. Monitor the results and adjust as needed. This is the way to improve your sales hiring process and to hire “right” the first time.
Invest the time required to hire top talent.  And above all else, do not settle.

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Interviewing – When Sales Skills and Experience Really Matter

A man points to the word "Skills"

The focus of any job interview should be on what is needed to succeed at the specific job you are hiring for. 

You should always begin with a very detailed job description that defines the intellectual, motivational and performance competencies required for success. For some jobs, skills and experience are critical; for others, they are less important. When you are hiring for a sales position for example, consider carefully what you will be asking your new hires to sell, to whom and how.

If your new sales reps will be involved in transactional sales at a rather junior level, you can probably train them in the sales skills they need and teach them what they need to know about their products, services and their customers. They can learn a viable sales approach and process and pick up the skills of how to communicate effectively and move toward success. Interviewing for this kind of selling where sales and products are relatively simple should focus on attitude more than experience. 

But if you are hiring a sales rep who will be selling more complex and solution-based offerings B2B, the vote of interviewing skills training experts weighs heavily in favor of both attitude and successful experience at selling. You cannot afford to wait until your new hires get fully trained to ramp up to speed and be productive. You need them, from the “get-go,” to know how to

  • research the customer’s industry, their business and your likely competition 
  • articulate your value proposition and solutions that are unique to each customer
  • follow a proven sales methodology
  • understand the customer’s buying process and identify key buyers
  • bring value to each interaction and present persuasively
  • prioritize accounts
  • negotiate and close
  • maintain and grow customer relationships

So how do you find all this out in your interviews? Practice behavior based interviewing. If this is new to you, your time in an interviewing skills training program will pay off quickly. You will learn how to dig beneath the “black and white” claims on the resume to the “flesh and blood” experience of the job candidate. You learn how to ask questions and probe for the truth behind the candidate’s effort to impress. 

When you can uncover what truly motivates them, their fit for your sales culture and their commitment to your company through superior interviewing skills, you are much more likely to hire someone who can help clients succeed, build a loyal customer base, and hit their sales targets. 

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What Resumes Don’t Tell You About a Job Candidate

The cartoon interviewer asks, "Everything on your resume is true, right?" of the man whose nose grows longer

Even if every fact on a resume is true, most of what you learn about a candidate cannot be learned from what’s printed in black and white. You need to find a way to interview the candidate in person…to get up close and personal. 

There are so many ways to sabotage your own hiring process and end up with an employee who is far less than what you hoped for. Doesn’t everyone who engages in the interviewing game want to find the top talent, that “A” player, who will enhance the team with just the right attitude, skills and fit? And yet how often are we disappointed? 

Here are some of the reasons we make the wrong new hire choices.

1. We don’t know how to get to the candidate’s real story.
You need a proven, fair, balanced behavior-based interview process. Each interviewer should have attended a behavior based interviewing skills training that teaches how to dig beneath the surface. Sure, a candidate may be able to legitimately claim that they were part of a successful sales initiative that increased revenue by 250%. But you need to understand exactly how they were involved. Did they lead the project or were they just in charge of filing orders?

2. We are pressured to hire someone as soon as possible.
This one is very common and, admittedly, it is hard to be really discriminating when a key stakeholder is breathing down your neck to find a replacement for the critical team member who just left. Our advice? Don’t ever settle. Be patient and hang in there until you find just the right person. Otherwise you will be stuck with a mediocre hire that will drag the team down for a long time to come.

3. We rely too much on referrals and too little on our own judgment.
Employee referrals are great. They eliminate the time it takes to identify a person we want to investigate as a potential hire and typically result in people who are apt to be a higher cultural fit. But that should be as far as it goes. Don’t shorten the interview process because of an enthusiastic recommendation. Recognize the bias and follow the same procedure you would with any other candidate.

4. We focus more on skills than on attitude.
Sure, you need to begin the conversation about relevant skills, competencies and experience. After all, you want to ensure that the necessary capabilities for the desired job performance are all there. But what really matters in the end is the candidate’s attitude and cultural fit with the team and the organization. Skills can for the most part be taught. Attitudes and values, however, rarely change significantly. Be sure you hire for a candidate’s work ethic, values, change agility, motivation, enthusiasm and willingness to learn. 

After twenty years of work helping clients hire successfully, we know that the best new hires are those based on the talent you need that fits in your unique corporate culture and that supports your business strategy. That’s where effective behavior-based interviewing should lead you.

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