How Building a Sales Team Works

Interviewing Tips and Warnings

The interview will only be effective if you are properly prepared. Here are a few tips to help you along:

  1. Start by creating a relaxed and friendly atmosphere so your applicant will be comfortable.
  2. Have a list of questions ready to make the interview process fair to all job candidates.
  3. Allow plenty of time for the applicant to fully answer the questions.
  4. Begin your interview with open questions that will encourage your interviewee to talk (these questions will begin with who, what, when, where, why, how).
  5. Get more specific information by probing deeper into the answers from the "open" questions -- ask for examples.
  6. Make sure you ask some behavior-based questions, like how they handled a staff problem in the past.
  7. Be sure to take notes.
  8. Don't ask questions to which you already know the answers.
  9. Watch for inconsistencies in their answers.
  10. Don't monopolize the conversation.
  11. Don't paint an unrealistic picture of your company.
  12. Set up a rating scale so you can compare each candidate equally.
  13. Don't allow any interruptions -- put phone calls on hold, close your door, etc.
  14. Don't cut your interviewing time short -- allow enough time to adequately rate the applicant.
  15. Be on the lookout for job hoppers (a new employer each year?).
  16. Be on the lookout for a salary history that shows little increase (usually means the person is too comfortable with average sales and probably not competitive enough).

There are also a slew of questions you shouldn't ask. This list certainly doesn't include every question you should avoid, but does include some of the more common questions you might slip up and ask. Check with your HR department for more information on illegal interview questions, or go to the EEOC Web site.

  1. DON'T ask how many days the applicant was sick last year (but you CAN ask how many days were "missed").
  2. DON'T ask broad questions about a disability, such as "do you have any disabilities?"
  3. DON'T ask about any past workers' compensation claims or job injury history.
  4. DON'T ask about lawful (prescription or over-the-counter) drug use (unless it is part of a screening for unlawful drugs).
  5. DON'T ask age, gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, or religion, or anything else that could be discrimination-based.
  6. DON'T ask about child care necessity.
  7. DON'T ask about employment status of family members.
  8. DON'T ask about sexual preference.

Okay, so once you've hired your staff, you need to conduct some initial training. Read our next session to find out some of the best ways to make that training effective and interesting.