You can easily predict how well a candidate will interview, but not how well they will perform. Why?
I’ve interviewed thousands of salespeople in my career. I’ve built interview methodologies, screening systems, roleplays, you name it. With a recent client, I administered over 250 personality profiles that measured applicants across 10 different sales traits. These traits were compared to a stack ranking of all current sales employees with the client – What did I learn?
I learned to play a little game with each person who passed the initial assessments and resume review and went through an interview. I would predict how well the interview team would rate them and found I was usually right. I looked at 1 trait only and that was how well a person scored on the sociability trait. A high score on this trait would inevitably lead to a great interview – Why?
The interview team didn’t know how to interview. This isn’t surprising as almost no one knows how to interview. What we call interviewing is often little more than rating the quality of a conversation. Did it flow? Was it awkward? If the interview conversation was like a calm game of ping pong with a rhythmic back and forth, the Interviewer would want to move forward. A high score on sociability = a nice conversation in an interview = a thumbs up on the experience = let’s hire them!
This one facet of a larger sales assessment and hiring process showed us that without Sociability, new hires would probably not get through the interview. This was bad news on two fronts. The results of sociability on interviewing let the wrong people through and it knocked out the right people as well. In a comparison of the top reps 33% scored a 4 or less on sociability (with an average of 3.1) These people interviewed terribly but accounted for some of the top reps in terms of quota achievement. These less than highly social candidates would likely get removed from the process even though they had the potential to become high performers
How do we fix this problem?
First, we teach our interviewers how to interview. We give them structured questions that deal with behavioral and hypothetical questions (“Tell me about a time when you couldn’t close a sale?” or “If you worked here and were faced with this problem, how would you approach it?”)
Second, we give each member of the interview team a similar set of questions to pose to each applicant. The core questions are identical with a few questions that vary from person to person. We teach them to discuss these questions and to probe more deeply through the process.
Third, we rate each question on a common rating scale and ask the interviewer to describe their interaction with the candidate across a few criteria. This descriptive part of the process also receives numerical ratings and goes into the scorecard.
The results of this process lead to a fair and deeper understanding of each candidate as they move through the interview stages and meet different members of the team. It eliminates the propensity to discount good candidates with lower sociability scores and helps to temper higher scores from candidates who are destined to fail in an organization.