Hiring Sales Talent the X Factor way (the 7 sins of the interview process)

Skyline with an X shaped building - Teem Recruitment Blog, hiring sales the x factor way

The role of Sales Exec is one of the hardest to fill in 2014 (ManPowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey) leading to a reduction in client service and an inability to compete. No wonder that hiring is near the top of the agenda for many CEOs.

So hiring strategies have been ‘super charged’ with referral schemes, applicant tracking systems, in-house recruiters, engaging specialist headhunters (yep we’re still useful), and/or blowing the budget on all that Linkedin has to offer.

Recruitment strategy sorted!

Erm, well actually that’s just the initial candidate engagement at the start of what can be a very challenging and time consuming process beset with competition and counter offers, conflicting diaries and, dare I say, conflicting egos.

Many of these pitfalls can be navigated with the help of an experienced recruitment consultant (see I told you we were still useful), but here is some free, friendly and occasionally sarcastic advice about what really turns sales candidates off about a hiring process.

#1 Hold a recruitment day

Ask those high performing sales guys and girls to clear their diaries of all those client appointments at short notice for a half day or longer and rock up to listen to the official line on why they should join your company. Don’t forget you cannot discuss the important stuff like salaries. They’ll love attending such a fun gig…hey they might even bump into one of their colleagues!

#2 Do a pyschometric test as the first step in the process

Well you can’t let them talk to a human being until the computer says “It’s OK, he’s one of us”.

Yes I know those tests are really valuable but just don’t introduce it until later in the process.

#3 Making the interview process up as you go along

A great candidate has interviewed with the first and second line managers, presented a 30/60/90 day plan, done a psychometric test and you’ve taken references. You told her that the process should be completed by now but the Sales Director would really like her to meet his friend (who works at an entirely different company) because he values his opinion.

#4 Involve too many people or take too long in the process/decision

Delays and kills the momentum of the process. If it doesn’t happen quickly, it often doesn’t happen at all. Show some flexibility and urgency for crying out loud – this is the most candidate driven market in 15 years!

#5 Involve too few people in the process/decision

45 mins of banter and a bit of light Q&A, firm handshake and you like the ‘cut of his jib’ so you offer him the job. Maybe this was the way we hired in the 1980’s but seriously, don’t do this! The candidate will devalue the opportunity because they will either think it was too easy to get an offer or they will just be spooked by the experience.

#6 ‘Informal’ reference taking

Everyone knows everyone right? So there’s nothing wrong with making a few ‘enquiries’ about a candidate who is gainfully employed at one of your competitors and has agreed, after some persuasion, to meet you discretely offsite to discuss potentially joining your company.

So word got out that he was ‘looking’ and he decided to withdraw from the process? Just as well because their boss wasn’t that glowing about them anyway.

#7 Miss-set candidate expectations

There is a fine line between vaguely acknowledging that the salary, benefits and opportunity will be competitive to gain a candidate’s initial interest versus outright miss-setting of expectations. If you cannot offer things that the candidate has made clear at the outset are important to them such as car allowance, stock options or a home working contract, then you should let them know it’s a non-starter. Otherwise you’re heading for a disappointing finish.

So there you have it! 7 sure fire ways to turn off talented sales candidate that your in-house team or recruitment partners have worked hard to source.

There will of course be sales people who will endure any number of turn offs to secure a role in your company, just as there will be contestants willing to queue for hours in the rain to appear on The X Factor. You never know…..some of them might be quite good.

Jim Kinread

Jim Kinread

Jim Kinread is the M.D of Teem, a leading organisation in the specialist IT sales recruitment arena. Jim has 17 years experience in the sector and leads his team of senior search consultants to help both software companies to achieve their global growth strategy and professionals to achieve their career goals.
Jim Kinread

About Jim Kinread

Jim Kinread is the M.D of Teem, a leading organisation in the specialist IT sales recruitment arena. Jim has 17 years experience in the sector and leads his team of senior search consultants to help both software companies to achieve their global growth strategy and professionals to achieve their career goals.