Beware of Salespeople Who Interview Well

Hiring a salesperson who interviews well is an easy trap to fall into. The person is usually a charmer. He’s answered every question eloquently and in depth, giving you far more information that you asked for. He’s articulate, witty, personable, and obviously knows his stuff.

Maybe, maybe not. You may have just been sold.

You may be dealing with a highly trained interviewee who has a social streak a mile wide. What do I mean by highly trained? Keep in mind that there is much more material floating around on how to "ace the interview’ than there is on "how to interview."

Websites abound to help salespeople second-guess your every question and come up with pat answers that they’re told you want to hear. Unfortunately, not all these answers are truthful which is why reference checking is so important.

In addition to being well prepared to answer your questions, some of these people fall into the overly social personality category and have the gift of gab which enhances their likeability during the interview process.

When you suspect that the person is just too glib and you’re getting long answers to short questions, beware. Sometimes you’re getting long answers because the longer the answers, the fewer the questions you’re likely to ask.

Remember that the salesperson who is sitting across from you during the hiring process has only one purpose and that is to "sell" you on making him a job offer. Be careful what you buy.

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2 Responses to “Beware of Salespeople Who Interview Well”

  1. Damian Thompson April 24, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Brian,

    You raise a good point and at some stage we have all “over-bought” as a hiring manager, many sales people and sales managers are the easiest to be sold to.

    But (there had to be one of those), sometimes a good sales interviewee is also a great sales interviewer for your product and service to prospective clients. They might be a great interview because they are legitimately a great sales professional.

    The idea that if they are a good interview you must be overly cautious is suspect to me. Hiring mistakes are the most costly thing a company can do so of course assessment testing is vital! Also a multi-stage interview process can weed out the great “stage-players”.

    I am not a big believer in reference checks being vital, as a good interviewee will also be savvy enough to only give themselves positive referral sources. And so many HR departments have trained referral source to giving the modern day equivalent of name , rank, and serial number only these days.

    If given the choice between 2 candidates with similar work history and assessment scores, I will always choose the one that does the best in the interview selling process.

    DT

  2. Brian Jeffrey April 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Damian:

    I wasn’t trying to say that I won’t hire someone who interviews well, I was just cautioning people against the situation where the only thing a candidate can sell is themselves.

    Like you, all things being equal, if they interview well, they go to the top of the list.

    I also appreciate your concerns about reference checks. While I’ve had it happen, not too many people are stupid enough to give you anything other than the names of people who will give glowing references.

    That’s why I generally avoid calling the people who the candidate provides on their resume and ask for the names of former bosses, coworkers, and even a couple of customers if appropriate.

    My overriding point is that we should hire carefully.

    Brian

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