September 11, 2014

woman in sales interviewAfter reviewing sales candidate resumes, hiring managers often add a phone screen to determine whether to move the candidate forward into the testing and interviewing process.

This 20-30 minute phone call helps bring the candidate’s resume to life and provides some excellent clues about whether he or she has the characteristics the company is seeking. Since the time is short, hiring managers often wonder about the best questions to ask.

Here is a salesperson phone screen protocol, we use and recommend, to help you determine whether a candidate is likely to be successful in the testing and interviewing process. 

First, ask the candidate briefly to walk you through his or her resume.

For each previous position, ask the candidate to answer three (3) questions:

  1. Please provide a basic description of the job.
  2. If you were on a sales team, where did you rank?  (Competitive candidates will know the answer.)
  3. What got you to move on to the next position?

These three questions help you to establish the candidate’s previous employment patterns, which are a solid predictor of how he/she would respond to the challenges of your open position. The more similar the previous roles were to the open job, the more likely you will see similar behavior if the candidate comes to work for you.

Next, ask at least one question for each of the 3 elements of Drive: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness, and Optimism.  Finally, we recommend adding a question regarding confidence, especially if the open position requires cold calling.

A well-constructed phone screen is like an interview sampler, allowing you to make an informed decision about moving the candidate to the next phase of the hiring process – increasing the chances that those you have take an online sales test and conduct an in-person interview will be up to the challenge.

Do you use a phone screen in your sales hiring process? If so, what questions have worked best for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Dr. Christopher Croner and Richard Abraham are authors of Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again and developers of the proprietary and patented sales assessment test, The DriveTest™, for sales candidates. To experience the difference of the DriveTest, contact us today!