Salespeople who golf tee Gary Johnson off. So, when the sales manager at ABC Seamless Siding & Windows in Toledo, Ohio, interviews candidates for a sales job, he not only carefully checks their resumes, he also asks what they do with their free time. “I have nothing against golfers, but if they put golf on their resume, that will be a problem,” he says. “On a sunny day, when I can't find them, I know where they are.”
Clark Brockman, on the other hand, loves having three former golf pros as Exterior Innovations sales reps, and in his interviews looks for clean-cut golfer types. “They have the ability to slow things down in their mind and think on their feet,” says the president of the Savannah, Ga., replacement company. “A lot of people just go out there and hit. [These guys] think through every shot.”
Interviewing Skills A fondness for golfing greens isn't the only thing that Johnson and Brockman check for in their interviews. Johnson looks for evidence of some sense of urgency. He asks candidates how they handle pressure. “The most laid-back guy on earth is probably not my guy,” he points out. Brockman encourages applicants to talk, and looks for those who tend to be “a little bit boastful” and want to make a lot of money.
At Weather Tight in Franklin, Wis., president Tod Colbert also looks for salespeople who want to make money. He even asks them how much. If it's too little, that indicates a lack of ambition. Too much? An ambition out of scale with what's realistic. The question, Colbert says, “helps us know how to approach the rest of the interview.”
Goal-Oriented Colbert and his sales managers also ask candidates about their 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals. “If they don't have an answer, they haven't set goals,” he says. “We also want to see if they're looking for a stepping stone or for a career.”
To weed out candidates who want a 9-to-5 job, Weather Tight's Colbert asks about the hours candidates prefer to work. “In our industry, the hours are so crazy. They're the No. 1 reason we lose salespeople, so we like to clear that up right away.”
And to make sure he has someone who can sell, Colbert always challenges interviewees with a question like, “Based on your resume, I don't believe you can do this job. Why do you think you can?”
Pam Fry, a Nashville window saleswoman whose annual sales have often exceeded $1 million, suggests three questions for those who want a job like hers: “How do you handle rejection? How often do you find yourself getting angry? What sale was your most challenging, and why?” The question about the sale gives insight into whether someone is a team player — a very important quality, Fry says.