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How To Score Your Interviews

In every book on sales management, especially those that are focused on recruiting and interviewing salespeople, there are always tools, sample questions, salesperson assessments and descriptions on various techniques used during the process. In my own book, Your Sales Management Guru's Guide to Recruiting High-Performance Sales Teams, I have included a variety of sample questions, interviewing ideas and even a three-week new hire on-boarding sample.

One of the most highly used tools to improve selection is the "candidate interview scorecard." How can you build one? Take action on the next two steps and you will improve the quality of your selection process dramatically.

Fundamentally, the two elements that I believe need to be absolutely part of the interview process are: 

1. A clear definition of what your ideal candidate looks like. Simply put, it is critical you define specifically a minimum of the five work experiences/areas of knowledge that you require, and the five psychological or emotional characteristics the job demands. Examples might include:

  • Has four years of sales experience in your industry.
  • Has worked a regional sales territory versus a local geographic one.
  • Has knowledge of a specific vertical market.
  • Has new territory development/hunter experience.
  • Can work independently (home office).
  • Competitive.
  • Creative.

Knowing these elements will help you write your advertisement, job descriptions, determine your interview process, evaluate and scan resumes and begin to narrow down your candidates. 

2. The next step is to take the emotion out of your hiring process. I mention this for a reason: It's critical. I often hear managers compare various candidates by saying, "I really liked this one. I feel good about her. He seems to be what we are looking for." These kinds of comments generally come from the gut and lead to poor selection.

We recommend creating a "candidate interview scorecard" to assist the interview team with accurately assessing each candidate. This tool is used during the interview and right after the interview is completed. The scorecard contains a list of 10 to 15 words from the list in No. 1, with each word listed and ranked on a scale of 1 to 5. During the interview, the scorecard is upside down and the interviewer simply takes any notes on that document. When the interview is complete, the scorecard is turned around and the candidate is immediately scored simply by selecting the number associated by each word.

All the candidates' scorecards are then shared with their individual rankings totaled. You will then easily see how each candidate was ranked by each interviewer and you can rank/stack each candidate. I like to recommend having at least three people on your interview team.

Take the time to define your "candidate interview scorecard" and dramatically improve your sales candidate selection. Many of my clients have taken this approach and implemented it in all employee selection processes. 

What other tools do you use to improve your interviewing and hiring process?

Posted by Ken Thoreson on November 03, 2014