The Drive Interview® follows a formula we labeled the 3 Ps for ease of memory: (1) Planning, (2) Probing the Past and (3) Patterns.
Step 1: Planning
Planning is the process of preparing for the 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.
Step 2: Probing the Past
Probing the Past is the second P in our 3 Ps interview process. The best way to predict a person’s future behavior is to carefully examine what he or she 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 he or she 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 below.
Step 3: Patterns
Patterns hold the third P 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: “Are you better at juggling a number of priorities or projects simultaneously or attacking a few projects one at a time?” 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 the candidate’s confidence is lowest: “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 my 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 his or her 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 he or she has taken in the past—and will no doubt take again in the future—in trying to succeed as a salesperson.
Sales Interview Questions We Love to Ask
We are looking for Driven salespeople. We know that Driven salespeople share three outstanding characteristics: need for achievement; competitiveness; and optimism. Use these interview questions to help you dig deeper into a candidate’s past and understand his or her career intentions. These questions should give you a feeling for the way psychologists probe for Drive.
Here are some examples of probing questions for the other core and specialized skills.