Having banged on about how too many sales people are let out into the field without adequate training, I’ve also long felt that our managers are untrained in recruitment. Sure, at the end of the day it usually comes down to 3 basic questions:
– Can the applicant do the job?
– If offered, would they take the job?
– Will they fit in?
But, prior to any interviews will be at least one shortlist and this will be down to CVs. Even if HR are involved, the CV and/or application form will be the basis of interview questions.
The most immediate advice I can give is for directors to instruct any managers who are recruiting to put some serious time into looking at CVs: marking them up with notes, queries and questions to ask. Tell them to be aware of anything which ‘just doesn’t look right’. Secondly, it should go without saying that if particular qualifications are essential for the job they must be checked. Finally, in keeping with the best sales technique interviewers should ask open-ended questions (ie questions beginning with who? what? where? when? who? which? or why?) These will enable the nervous-but-honest to open up and talk about their experience – but make it harder for liars to lie. In short, a closed question can be batted away easily by the bluffer with just one word – “yes” or “no”. The burden then quickly falls back onto the interviewer to ask another question giving the liar valuable time to coolly prepare himself. Instead, asking a question such as “In what way did your responsibilities change in your eight years with British Airways?” will make it far harder for the liar to answer convincingly, because it requires a more detailed answer. If (s)he is genuine – and any good as a potential candidate – they will explain what they did during that time, giving you useful information in understanding how that experience is relevant to the vacancy in mind. Following with further open-ended questions will continue to pin down the bluffer.
Recruiting new people always carries some risk. Entrusting your company’s sales to someone without basic checking and unprepared interviewing can be foolhardy. To quote Albert Einstein, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the truth in important matters.” However, business owners can’t be expected (nor will they want to) to micromanage every vacancy which comes up in their organisation, but they can – and should – alert their management team to the fact that a significant number of applicants are happy to present themselves less than truthfully.