Sales candidates can be particularly challenging to read in an interview, since they are often skilled at presenting themselves in a very favorable light. A powerful technique for quickly moving past a candidate’s defenses is to use “extreme” questions.
Extreme questions include superlative words like most, least, biggest, smallest, worst and best. Extreme questions are particularly effective when a sales candidate describes a general negative reaction to a past situation.
For example, let’s say the candidate says the following: “I guess I have always found cold calling challenging.”
Here are two ways the interviewer can respond . . . one with a standard question and one with an extreme question:
Question: “What did you find challenging about cold calling?”
Candidate: “Making the time during my busy schedule . . . that was always tough.”
Question: “What was the most challenging aspect of cold calling?”
Candidate: “Probably the anxiety involved in the whole process.”
To get maximum leverage from an extreme question, follow up with the echo technique:
Candidate: “After a prospect would hang up on me, my hurt feelings would get me worried about the next call.”
Now, you can continue to probe to find out how pervasive this issue is for the candidate, and gauge whether it would get in his way if he came to work for you.
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!