One of my clients recently hired a candidate…here is the story of why he hired the one he did…the lesson is so clear…
I recently interviewed two candidates in a final round before making a hiring decision. The position I had open was for mid-market enterprise companies with between 5,000-15,000 employees. Our industry is in IT services in the cloud, as well as software solutions; all storage and archiving related. In my search, I was looking for a hunter with 5-10 years selling IT solutions. Our typical hire has a storage related background, but a solid IT background also seems to fit.
The two candidates both had great track records with achieving their numbers: one in the storage hardware industry, and one in the software industry but with a security background. They were both aware they were the final two candidates. I went as far as letting them both know where they stood and that this was the final stage before moving forward.
The first candidate I met with was the one from the storage industry. The interview lasted about 20 minutes. I asked the majority of the questions around his background, what he had done and why he was successful. I got good answers back. I also asked him how he would attack the territory in the first 90 days. The answer was fairly generic and he was done in about 2 minutes. I asked if he had any additional questions and he said no. He did put the close on me 2-3 times during the interview, which was good, but I was really hoping he was going to probe more about me and the position. I then told him about the remaining next steps, which included an interview with the VP of North American sales and an offer to come out within the next 3-4 days. We ended the interview with an agreement from me to call him that evening with a decision.
I met with the second candidate about 30 minutes later. We sat down and after a few minutes of small talk he started asking me questions. I like this approach because I expect a sales person to probe the customer then to come back with some pertinent information. He asked me questions about each product, calling them by name. He asked who the competition was for each product, what the selling cycles are, who we sell to and why they buy. I spent a good 20 minutes discussing how we sell our products and who we sell them to. He proceeded to pull out a business plan he had drafted with what he would do in the first 90 days. This fell in line with what we had been discussing earlier about product positioning and what our sales cycles are like. We discussed this in the first interview and he did his homework for the final interview. Although he was interviewing for a position outside his past market segment, he was able to tie his past experience into what my position was for and what I was looking for. We spent 60 minutes or so discussing my team, our products, the company culture, my management style and how he would fit in very well with what my expectations were. At the end of our interview, when discussing next steps, he proceeded to ask me questions about the VP of North American Sales, what he was like, what his past was, what I thought of him and what he should expect from the phone call.
What it came down to is the second candidate treated me like a sales call. He interviewed me, took the time to discuss what I was looking for and was able to discuss how he would fit in with what I was seeking. He was constantly probing for more information and tying that information back to what he could provide to me. He took the time to understand our products, our people, and our culture to really see how great of an opportunity it was. I could really feel his excitement about wanting to join the team and be successful.