Interviewing Strategy to Deliver The Right Candidate

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In our meetings with distributors and manufacturers, all comment on their need for qualified talent to support growth, to replace open positions or, in some cases, a need to upgrade their current talent.  The challenge is “how to find the ‘right’ person?”  And many are concerned, although this isn’t vocalized, about the cost of making a “less than optimal” decision.  Further, how do they know that a candidate is truly qualified?

Recruitment / acquiring the right people can be a major inhibitor to achieving growth.

This past week, John Salvadore, an electrical industry veteran having worked for a manufacturer, a distributor, a marketing group and various service providers and is now the principal of GRN Coastal Recruiters, shared an approach which may be more time consuming but ensures that the candidate is interested in the role, committed to joining if there is an offer and, most importantly, verifies if the candidate has the skill sets you are seeking.

Interviewing techniques that work: Is the candidate truly qualified?

In today’s sales environment, customers are looking for sales reps that can solve their problems. Reps that have a technology skill set that can help them select the right products for their applications so that they can buy product with confidence . Your recruiter can ask a series of questions to vet the candidates skill set but there is plenty of opportunity for you to do the same once the candidate is in your building.

The “ in house” interview has to take on more meaning, it has to become more of a qualifications interview in which your candidate truly shows you what their skills set truly is capable of delivering. How do you extract this information?

The most successful companies do the following based on position type.

Sales managers: a few days ahead of the actual in house interview, have your recruiter or HR specialist send the candidate an assignment within their area of expertise. The candidate should need to do some basic research and then have the candidate actually prepare a presentation for your team at the interview on the topic. Results: this allows you to see how the candidate prepares information, their style, presentation skills and how they think on their feet.

Technical specialist’s roles: Any technical interview can be challenging so try to make it easier on yourself by again making the candidate show you their skills in action. Make the candidate do a presentation in the training room or meeting room on the product they will be responsible for. Even if they currently support a different brand of product, they should be able to do a brief feature and benefits presentation of the key features as to why the customer would want to buy the product. Specialists are a key person in the selling process and their time is very valuable.

Lighting and Switch gear reps: I think the best way to see some depth for these positions is to have the candidate do a short take off on some blueprints at your office. Have them do a take-off for a lighting project and develop a short bill of material. Have them call out what brands of products they would apply to the project, ask them why and have them give you a ball park price on the project: Results: this will reinforce a candidates product knowledge, technical skill and freshness as to street level buy prices.

Outside sales: In addition to discussing customer bases and type of customers they are comfortable discussing, I think it is valuable to have the person walk you through a typical day and week. How do they manage their sales day, what determines where they go, How much time is allocated to CRM, when do they do CRM. How much support do they need in the field? You have to be careful that a rep can support themselves to a degree and do some of their own quotes or you will end up seeing them utilize your technical specialists all the time and this may prove to be a detriment to the rest of the sales team. If you can get your outside sales team to be as much self supporting as possible, it frees up your technical staff to also be out in front of other customers.

Operations: Bring them into the warehouse and show them your operation and technology being deployed. Have they used bar code technology, what systems are they use to dealing with. What do they specifically think of your operation? Is there anything that jumps out at them as an area of improvement?

We feel presentations are the best way to make a true judgement. The simple “sell me this pen” method can work also. You want to see how the candidate reacts on the spot, how they think on their feet, how creative they are, how they react under pressure.

In the end, these types of interviews need to have more than the basic script of questions. These are skilled positions and the top candidates will want to show you their skills without hesitation. You are making a big investment in top talent and you don’t want to be disappointed. All employees need ongoing training to stay crisp but you want to make sure that their incoming skill set is as advertised and they can truly deliver on day one to your expectations. These are all ideas that can be executed upon in the local marketplace. These are things that your talent acquisition team or recruiter can’t “see” during the screening process.

Delivery: This “skill set evaluation” portion of the interview process is becoming more and more utilized. Just as companies are asking candidates to take a “test” such as a Wonderlic, Chally or Predictive index, the Skill set evaluation, especially for higher priced talent is becoming more prevalent.

The desired outcome to proper interviewing techniques is to get the right number of people with the right skills, experiences, and competencies in the right jobs at the right time.

Clients need an interview framework to identify competencies, capabilities, attitudes, and attributes needed to meet current and future personnel needs of the organization. Proper interview techniques will help eliminate the gap between capabilities needed or perceived and those readily available. Effective development and utilization of human capital is critical.

If we can identify competencies, that will improve results, raising confidence in the investment in the potential hire will become much easier.

The above strategy makes sense especially when you consider the cost of the hiring process as well as the cost of “the wrong hire”,  hiring someone who under-delivers and the cost of training someone (which varies based upon their knowledge level and skill-set).  The worst that can happen is that a candidate you’re interested in declines to “prove” themselves. Perhaps they aren’t the right candidate?

What are the challenges in your recruiting and interviewing process?

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Supporting manufacturers, distributors and others in the electrical channel with accelerating growth through business / channel strategy, marketing development and customer-focused market research. We generate "ideas that deliver results."