The Drive Interview® follows a formula we labeled the 3 Ps for ease of memory: (1) Planning, (2) Probing the Past and (3) Patterns.
Using the sales interview techniques outlined below will allow you to “look under the hood” of your candidates, digging deeper into their skills and uncovering their true intentions.
Planning is the process of preparing for the sales interview. It is absolutely critical that you, not the interviewee, control the interview and gain the information you need for a valid assessment of the candidate’s potential to succeed in this position.
Remember, the candidates’ coaches are recommending the opposite (i.e., that they control the interview). It takes structure and discipline to keep candidates on point so you can gather the right data and make accurate observations.
Probing the Past is the second P in our 3 Ps sales interview process. The best way to predict a person’s future behavior is to carefully examine what they did in the past.
It is therefore critically important that throughout the interview you use experience questions, which speak to behavior, as opposed to philosophy questions, which speak to aspirations. Remember, the ultimate name of the game for you is not finding people who can (or think they can) sell, it is finding people who will sell.
Here is an experience question we like to use in determining Drive:
“Tell me about a time when you thought you had a sale but were surprised and disappointed by the prospect or customer. What was your next move?”
Notice we didn’t ask, “How did you feel?” It’s too easy to give a glib answer to that question. We want to know how the candidate reacted. Did this person bounce back quickly? Did they learn a lesson and apply it to the next case?
The foregoing example is the kind of question that probes the past for clues that the candidate has applied Driven characteristics before and will do so again for you. We provide a list of such questions in our interview guide found inside our online course.
Patterns, our third P, hold the key to a successful interview. Structure your process to connect individual questions into a web of patterns which, once identified, are virtually sure to reemerge (both positively and negatively) when the candidate comes to work for you.
Let’s say that you want to understand if the candidate can successfully multitask because the position in question requires a variety of actions.
You might ask: “Do you prefer handling assignments individually, or tackling several projects at once?”
A smart candidate, having researched the position, might answer the basic question by stating: “I prefer doing several things at once; it keeps me stimulated.”
So far so good, but later in the interview, you loop back and ask: “When is your confidence the lowest?”
If the candidate replies: “When I am overwhelmed with information.”
Whoa! Time out!
You need to probe deeper with a follow-up inquiry such as: “Tell me about the last time you got overwhelmed.”
If the answer includes having “too much on their plate” at the time, you now have contradictory information that requires another follow-up.
So, you say: “Give me one more example of a time you were overwhelmed.”
If the candidate responds with yet another example of having a lot on their plate, you have made an important discovery. Now, a pattern of breaking down when asked to multitask emerges, despite this candidate’s coached answer about loving variety.
Establishing patterns is a very enjoyable part of interviewing. It is like detective work: searching for evidence that the candidate is truly Driven by uncovering paths they have taken in the past—and will no doubt take again in the future—in trying to succeed as a salesperson.
The examples above are just a few of the behavioral interview questions we have outlined in our Masterclass: The Ultimate Behavioral Interview Guide for Sales Managers.
Inside we provide you with the exact questions that you need to ask in the interview to help you dig deeper into a candidate’s past and understand their career intentions. These questions should give you a feel for the way psychologists probe for Drive.
Inside our masterclass, you can expect to learn how to structure a behavioral interview, the types of responses to listen for from your candidates and get access to a downloadable interview guide with all of our favorite interview questions, just like the ones above.