The first step of our seven step selection process begins with screening. This initial part of the process offers a transition where your “recruits” become “candidates”. This first step has only two objectives:
- Determine whether or not a candidate has the basic capacity to do the job;
- Determine the “chemistry” you and the team would have with the candidate.
The right capacity and chemistry means a likely possible “fit” with you, the clients, the team and the company, enabling the candidate to advance in the process.
You are not making a final decision; your only decision is whether or not the candidate proceeds in the process. Take the pressure off yourself and use three simple activities to screen salespeople effectively.
- Start with a review of a written resume, job application or Curriculum Vitae (CV). Compare what the candidate brings to the table with what you need. At this stage you can eliminate those who lack the credentials, experience, knowledge or skills which are the foundation of any basic capacity to get the job done.
- Next undertake a quick ten minute telephone interview to validate your understanding of the experience, knowledge or skills outlined in the written resume, job application or CV and check for interest, motivation and fit or any constraints that knock the candidate out of the running.
- Conduct a screening interview, ideally face-to-face, depending of course on the job and the location of the candidate. Use this time together to identify basic capacity and chemistry. You should be able to answer two questions at the end of this interview:
- This person has the basic experience, knowledge and skill to perform in the job at whatever level you need, and;
- I like this person and I would consider working with – and coaching – him or her.
Keep the screening interview welcoming without being outright friendly. Make the candidate feel accepted and comfortable. Candidates are all concerned, as they should be, about being judged, and your welcoming disposition should relieve some candidate anxiety and enable you to see a clearer picture of the candidate at their most comfortable level.
In our view it is best that the screening interview last no less than 30 minutes and no more than one-hour. Imagine how you would feel as a candidate if it were shorter. Don’t be afraid to tell the candidate in advance of the interview that this is early in the selection process and you will not take more than 45 minutes to one hour, and, possibly less.
All of the attention and preparation that you devote to effective screening enables you to set up a “safe” and respectful environment where you will be best positioned to get the candidate to open up. This ability to get candidates to open up is at the heart of a decent screening interview. Help the candidate open-up and you will have a chance to select the ones with the basic capacity to do the job and the chemistry critical to your future working relationship.
Keep in mind that as you are judging your candidates they are judging you and your company. Preparation here shows through and candidates see and feel your seriousness. Your care, effort and compassion in screening create a feeling of respect for your candidates. You want to create a good feeling in screening – a valuable first impression that your best employees most likely talk about.