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Hiring the best

“Hi Jeffrey, I am running a software company out of Alberta, Canada, and we are leaving no stone unturned to find a sales and technical support team leader that can and will do just this. After reading Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard, I have a question for you. In your business, what are the key indicators in the candidates that you shortlist to find a loyal messenger of this calibre when you are recruiting for a position?” Kathryn IN spite of massive testing and background checking efforts to the contrary, hiring the right person or the right people is always subject to the human factor. Companies make fortunes trying to pre-test and pre-qualify applicants based on a subset of technical and emotional responses so that managers can claim victory when they get the right person, and cover their butt when they make the wrong hire. I am not in favour of this hiring strategy. I am in favour of having a company or an agency pre-screen people for past history of credit or wrongdoing – checking their background right away to avoid wasting time, or making a fatal error. Background checking is an imperative today, for both business and personnel safety. All the other success factors you seek, all their strengths and quirks, all their successes and their failures, you discover by talking to them one on one. (There’s a novel idea.) The human factors that go into a decision-making process are the perceived ability of the other person to be a self-starter, their perceived intelligence based on conversation, your perception of their ability to get the job done based on conversation, their past history of success, their demeanor (including their attitude), their willingness to work hard and get the job done no matter what, and finally, and perhaps most important, your perception of their ability to fit into your existing team or family. Note well: No test on the planet will give you this information with any certainty. The way to find the best employee is to make a decision based on your personal evaluation of their history, their interview, their potential, and your gut feeling. Start with their recent past employment. If there’s a lot of grumbling about, “They didn’t understand me. I was underpaid. The boss was a jerk,” thank them and say goodbye. It’s likely they’ll feel the same and say the same about you. In a personal interview you can determine their intelligence, their communication skills, their personality characteristics, and expose their attitude. Here’s what to ask and talk about. Talk to them about their growing up history, their likes and their dislikes. Get the candidate to relax. Talking about where they grew up will get to their emotions. Talking about likes and dislikes will get them to reveal their character and personality traits. Talk to them about their last job, and the one before that. Are there repeated patterns? What were the real reasons for leaving? What did they like about it? Were they able to exceed goals set for them? Discuss their past history of success. Get them to reveal their abilities to self-start. Get information about how they treated customers, and how they handle sales and service situations. Get them to tell you about a lost customer and a big sale. Ask them about the best, most memorable sale they ever made. Let them tell the story as you take notes. Look for enthusiasm and pride. And find out the whole story, not just the sale. Talk to their past customers. References are pretty much preset. I recommend that you ask any potential candidate to get you the names of past customers. These are the true measure of a salesperson. Past customers can confirm the true capability of the critical elements of relationship building and service performance. They can also confirm ethics and the ability to deliver as promised. Please avoid Miss America questions like “why sales?” and “why our company?” You’re smarter than that. Recap: The candidate you want is a smart and self-starting person with a great attitude and a past history of success. “Jeffrey, this takes too much time,” You whine. Really? If a great salesperson can add a million dollars in revenue to your company, what’s that worth? And if you’re in HR and whining, how much revenue are you adding? If you want a few more ideas about choosing the right salesperson, go to www.gitomer.com, register if you a first-time visitor, and enter the words PICK ME in the GitBit box.

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