Last week, we talked about the importance of good listening skills and the benefits of using them effectively. As a follow-up, here is a refresher on how to determine, up front, whether your sales candidate is a good listener. Below are two key signs of a bad listener and a great question to ask your candidate.
- Does the candidate interrupt you? A candidate can be a little nervous and overeager. However, a consistent habit of interruption suggests that the candidate puts his needs and agenda first.
- Is the candidate a motor mouth? If you have a long-winded candidate, see if you can get him to be more concise. Pause the interview and gently ask him if he has ever gotten the feedback that he can be long-winded at times. Remind him of the time constraints of the interview process, and politely ask him to shorten his responses. Note whether he can do this. If so, you know that he can improve with feedback on his listening skills. If not, then pay attention to this developmental need if you bring him on board.
- Ask the candidate, “Tell me about a time when you had to read between the lines to find out what was important to a customer.” Look for the candidate’s degree of cleverness in both identifying the customer’s real needs and asking sharp follow-up questions to go deeper.
The good news . . . listening skills (unlike Drive) can be taught. Nonetheless, it helps to diagnose listening challenges upfront, allowing us to properly develop this critical skill if necessary.
Dr. Christopher Croner and Richard Abraham are authors of Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again and developers of the proprietary and patented sales test, The DriveTest™, for sales candidates. For more information, click here.