The Stressful Interview = Real World Sales

The BBC provides a look into a “stress interview” which is an interview approach that places an inordinate amount of stress on the candidate.  The goal is to learn how the candidate handles the pressure in an unexpected environment.  This approach should sound like a sales call.  It does to us and that is why we use some of these techniques in our structured interview process. From the BBC article(emphasis mine): “There are certainly different kinds of stress associated with many positions – achieving results, meeting deadlines, dealing with difficult clients, for example,” says Neal Hartman, senior lecturer in managerial communication at MIT. “The stress interview can create conditions to… Read More

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Don’t Ask This Interview Question

I haven’t heard of this one but it is intriguing: To boost the chances of preventing that hiring misstep, there’s one easy tactic everyone should take in an interview: Stop asking candidates to evaluate their own abilities. Here’s why. Underskilled candidates consistently overrate their abilities, and more skilled candidates consistently underrate their abilities. There’s even a name for this: the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological research finding that the poorest performers are the least aware of their own incompetence. So I’m immediately left questioning why?  Are highly-skilled salespeople awash in humility?  I don’t think so and neither does the author. Top performers set higher standards for their own performance, so they… Read More

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The Most Important Trait In An Interview

Trustworthiness.  It is true.  I have sat through many interviews where I simply did not trust, or believe, what the candidate was telling me.  The Harvard Business Review tip of the day quickly dissects this point. The most important thing to get across in an interview is not that you are smart and motivated – it’s that you are trustworthy. Trustworthiness is the fundamental trait that people automatically look for in others. To be seen as trustworthy, you need to demonstrate warmth and competence. Warmth signals that you have good intentions, and competence signals that you can act on those good intentions. If you follow the usual interview advice and… Read More

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How GPA’s Matter In Hiring

They don’t.  That is the conclusion from Google based on their own internal research.  Some info from the New York Times article: “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” Bock said. “Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything. Mind you, this is research from inside Google – they know… Read More

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They Always Reference The Top Salesperson

I’ve encountered a common question in recent interviews which pertains to the current level of performance from the existing sales team.  This economy is wreaking havoc on many salespeople in terms of their commissions.  Sales candidates are aware of this situation and are diligently asking the question regarding where the current team is performing.  I find it to be a most appropriate question. The problem often lies within the hiring manager’s response.  It is simply difficult to hide a grossly underperforming sales team.  If the economy is cratering their success, the problem is even more difficult to contain in an answer.  This usually leads to a pseudo-answer that deflects the… Read More

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Interview Question Psychosis

Let me be honest, I have sat in on some interviews that were borderline psychotic.  Questions from left field, overt anger and emotions, lying responses that were easily observed…and those were the good ones.  In all seriousness, interviewing is difficult and being a good interviewer is even more challenging.  Most managers do not spend their time honing their interview skills.  This fact often leads to bizarre questions.  It also leads to bizarre question patterns. Every year there seems to be a list of the oddest interview questions from the year – it is a guilty pleasure of mine to read them.  Perhaps you would enjoy the list also?  To whet… Read More

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Gotcha Questions

Do you know what I mean by “gotcha questions?”  These are the questions designed to trap, trick or zap a candidate.  These types of questions are often used by interviewers who believe they need to “win” the interview.  I know it sounds odd and uncommon (I certainly hope it is), but I have sat through interviews where the gotcha questions have been asked. Interview questions are a tricky sort.  Almost everyone enjoys reading interview questions in hope of discovering an effective one.  However, we incorporate assessments into our process which provides an x-ray of the candidate’s abilities, motivations, aptitudes, style, etc.  The power in this approach is that it identifies… Read More

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Keep It Clear

I have sat through some interviews which have been enlightening in terms of the struggles of hiring managers who do not hire often.  One of the blatant deficiencies I observed was this – a lack of good questions.  Is there anything more important than questions in interviewing an external candidate?  Even an internal candidate. Here is one instance of what I observed – a rather inexperienced manager asked esoteric questions that left me scratching my head.  The candidate did a good job attempting to answer the question without embarrassing the hiring manager.  One question took almost 2 minutes for the hiring manager to ask!  The question included an analogy, an… Read More

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Impression Management

I am a psych major.  As my mother likes to say, “I’ve never met a psychologist who didn’t need their own services.”  Although I am not a psychologist, I get the gist of her commentary. In that vein, I was revisiting some of my antiquated text books in search of a professional explanation for why “bad” sales candidates can often smoke good interviewers.  I give you self-presentation or impression management.  The definition from Social Psychology-Understanding Human Interaction by Baron and Byrne: …they flatter others, pretend to agree with them about various issues, or feign great interest in what they are saying – all in an attempt to create a favorable… Read More

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