I about fell out of my chair reading this SellingPower.com article – Interviews Get Comfortable.  A quick excerpt to set the tone:

“It’s your job as an interviewer to make the candidate feel comfortable and it starts from the moment you see that person,” says Barbara Pachter, a speaker, trainer, coach, and author of numerous business books, including The Power of Positive Confrontation (Marlowe & Co., 2006). Pachter does acknowledge that there are times when interviewers put candidates in awkward positions to view reactions, but for the most part they should work to put candidates at ease.

Her suggestions for putting candidates at ease include:

    • Be a gracious host.
    • Ask easy questions
    • Set up the room for comfort.
    • Handle awkward moments properly.
    • Change the environment.

In all fairness, you have to read the article to get an understanding of her approach since there is some nuance to it.  However, in sales successful interview techniques are much different.

My experience has consistently been this:  I learn more about the candidate during the awkward, uncomfortable moments than the smooth, relaxed interactions.  Here’s why – salespeople (even bad ones) tend to have highly refined social interaction skills.

Simply put, they can make themselves appear to be stronger than they actually are.

The key in a successful sales interview is to ask the difficult questions and then use the awkward silence afterwards to compel the candidate to respond.  Silence produces tension and tension removes the candidate’s veneer.  It is at these precise moments that you learn about a candidate’s true sales ability.

I can understand Ms. Pachter’s approach in hiring other positions, but sales is the most difficult position for which to hire.  The better approach is to use an accurate, repeatable process.

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