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MARKETING – Dig Deep When Conducting an Interview

This is the fifth in a series of articles that addresses the issue of hiring the right salespeople for your dealership.

When dealing with a job applicant, don’t take all answers or information at face value. Dig deeper and check the following subjects carefully:
-Employment dates. If substantial amounts of time exist between jobs, check out what your applicant was doing. These long “fishing trips” may indicate a lack of the dedication and focus you’re looking for in a long-term salesperson.
-Claims of past income levels.Ask for the actual amount from their W-2 forms. Don’t accept vague answers. Some people try to pad their income by including fringe benefits or intangibles as part of their salary.
-Past duties, responsibilities and titles. Make sure applicants clarify their current or former job functions. Avoid or overcome vague answers by reminding the applicant that you always check references very carefully.
-Checking references. Ask for references’ names and their phone numbers as well. The references should include the person(s) to whom the applicant reported on a daily basis. If a conflict exists or existed between the applicant and a supervisor, ask for an additional contact within that organization.

When interviewing, also try and cover these additional points:
-When should you begin selling the job? You don’t have to sell the job until you identify a desirable candidate. Be fair and honest. After you’ve established the value of the position, communicate the less-positive aspects of the job as well.
-The importance of a second opinion. You will find a second opinion helpful in either confirming your positive impressions or pointing out details you may have overlooked. Ask other managers or senior sales personnel to conduct their own interview. Don’t bias them by telling them anything about the candidates or your impressions. Have them write down their impressions before they discuss them with you.
-Evaluate objectively. Measure the candidate against your established job criteria. Do so objectively and never allow your emotions or biases to interfere.
-Wait to hire. Never hire on the spot. It doesn’t matter how good the candidate is. You must always conduct a reference check, get a second opinion, and conduct a final interview. Explain your hiring process to the candidate. If you emphasize how difficult it is to get the job, you’ll create a sense of competitiveness. Good candidates are usually attracted to positions that are hard to get.
-Spell out your requirements. Be sure the candidate understands and accepts everything that’s going to be required before you offer the position. This can include such topics as working hours, holidays, fringe benefits, compensation and direct responsibilities included in the job description.

There are various types of tests you may use to determine a candidate’s suitability for a sales position. These tests can evaluate the candidate’s leadership, ego, drive, empathy, strengths, decision-making ability and capacity to handle details.
In order to keep costs low, the number of candidates should be reduced to the finalists before any aptitude tests are administered.
When reviewing the tests prior to selecting one, ask yourself:
-Are the skills being evaluated relative to the job as a Salesperson?
-Is there any statistical proof offered that the test does in fact predict success in salespeople?
-Does the company supplying the test provide training or trained personnel to evaluate the results?
-Does the test provide results that are either too simple or too good to be true?
-Do the publishers of the test offer written assurance that it does not discriminate against individuals by sex, age, race, color, religion or national origin?(double-check this point with your legal counsel).

Next month: Checking the references.

Author, speaker and educator, Gart has been retained by every major powersport manufacturer/distributor. He is a frequent keynote speaker for national motorcycle conventions and state Motorcycle Dealer Association events. Visit www.gartsutton.com.

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