Don’t judge a book by its cover. I used to make a living doing nothing but recruiting, so every person who showed up for an interview was a potential paycheck for me. I couldn’t afford to waste any opportunity, so I interviewed a lot of people that management may have rejected before the application stage. After interviewing these people and giving them the right opportunity to show me their strengths, the same managers who would have rejected them wanted to hire them, and indeed a lot of them turned out to be real winners. You have to get your managers to look further than what’s on the surface. It is inappropriate to judge potential customers by the way they look, just as it is inappropriate with potential employees.
Make sure you have a professional job application to complete—not a faded, crooked copy. Your applicants will certainly judge you and your dealership by the way you and your paperwork looks. Have each applicant complete the form in its entirety. A lot of applicants will have a resume and will want to save time by not completing all parts of the application. Make it clear to each applicant that you need every part filled out, and that you would be happy to review their resume as a supplement to the application. This will be a first test to see how well they can follow simple instructions.
Remember that there are two interviews going on; applicants are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. You have to sell each applicant on why they should come and work for you just as all the applicants must sell themselves to you. The best way to do this is to start the interview enthusiastically with a brief history of the company, including all the highlights and awards. You need to let them know why you are looking for salespeople, and what you offer in the way of a career. It is neither necessary nor apt to go over pay details at this time.
Let them know what is going to happen today. At the end of the interview, you will ask them to write a few things down. Then, you will make a decision as to whether you want to take it to the next step, so they will know today whether this first part of the hiring process has been successful for them. Don’t leave them hanging.
Know What You’re Looking For
Before you start asking questions of applicants you need to know what it is that you are looking for. Don’t forget, we asked people with no prior experience to apply, so what they have done in the past isn’t all that important. It is more important for you to focus on the potential of each applicant – how well do you think they will accept the training? Can you see them interacting well with other people? Are they adaptable? So look at their past, certainly, but look at it for their future.
It may seem corny, but I used to play a little word association game with applicants. I had a series of words, and when I said a word they had to immediately say what the first thing was that came to their mind. They said just one word after I said only one word. This exercise will tell you a couple of things: how quick they are on their feet, and depending on the words you give them, you will soon get a feel for their character. For example, what is the first word that pops into your head when I say commission? You could learn a lot from someone with that answer alone! Don’t let this game go on too long; 30 words or less should do it. Don’t write the answers down; just listen.
A couple of questions to ask to find out about future potential are: “Go forward 5 years; where do you see yourself?” The answer to this question will tell you a great deal. If they respond with “Doing your job,” you know they have the initial intention of working for you for a while. If they tell you they will be in an engineering job, they are probably just looking for something to tide them over until they can get back into the field they just left.
“You are going to hold a dinner party at home tonight, and you can invite four people, anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would you invite, and why?” I have found this to be a great question, as the answers will give you a great insight as to the person’s character. I look for family members to be invited primarily, this shows good kinmanship—a great asset to have working with a team. I wouldn’t necessarily rule anyone out if they didn’t invite family, but it is a plus if they do.
Ending the Interview
Always ask the applicant if they have any questions for you. Then tell them you will leave them for a couple of minutes while you review the application and the interview. While you are gone, give them a piece of paper and a pen and ask them to write down in 30 words or less why they think you should give them an opportunity. Leave them to it. On your return, read through what they have written, and give them your answer. Either congratulate them and invite them back for the next stage in the hiring process, or thank them for their time and let them know they were not successful this time. While you shouldn’t leave applicants hanging, sometimes it’s necessary to make the best decision. If this is the first interview of the day and you may want to look further at them, you should tell them they are on a short list of applicants and you will get back with them after you’ve reviewed the rest of the applications.
The Hiring Process
The hiring process should consist of these stages:
- Decide that hiring is necessary
- Design and place the ad
- Conduct initial interviews
- Further interviewing/initial training
- Role playing/testing
- Offer of employment
As you see, there are further stages in this process that you may not be familiar with. These stages will enable you to make informed decisions to hopefully allow you to hire good people who will perform for you for years to come. I will cover these final stages next month.
Vol 4, Issue 10