Hiring Handbook

Finding the Best:
Job Interviewing Skills

The Candidate

Since each individual - and each interview - is different, these points should serve only as basic guidelines, not as inflexible rules.

Meeting the Candidate

At the outset, act friendly but avoid prolonged small talk-interviewing time costs money.

  • Introduce yourself by using your name and title.
  • Mention casually that you will take notes. ("You don't mind if I take notes, do you.")
  • Assure candidate that all information will be treated in confidence.


  • Ask questions in a conversational tone. Make them concise and clear.
  • Avoid loaded and negative questions. Ask open-ended questions which will force complete answers: "Why do you say that? (who, what, when, where and how?)
  • Don't ask direct questions that can be answered "yes" or "no."

The Interview

You will find two groups of questions. The first group contains questions to ask yourself about the candidate. The second group suggests questions to ask the candidate.

During the interview it is suggested that you continually ask yourself:

  • What is this person telling me about himself/herself?
  • What kind of person is he/she?
  • In other parts of the interview you can cover education, previous experience and other matters relating to specific qualifications.


  • Attempt to determine the candidate's goals.
  • Try to draw the candidate out and allow him/her to talk.
  • Don't sell - interview.
  • Try to avoid snap judgments.
  • Remember, if you're talking more than 25% of the time, you are talking too much.

Interviewing Guide

(A) = All sales candidates | (E) = Experienced sales candidates | (NE) = No experience in sales

I. Attitude & Motivation

» Ask yourself:

  • Does this person only try, or is the person committed?
  • Does person have a positive mental attitude?
  • Is person goal oriented? What turns person "on"?
  • How is success defined?
  • Satisfied with status quo?
  • Realistic objectives? Understands there's "no free lunch"?

» Ask candidate:

  • (A) Why do you work?
  • (E) Why did you choose sales as a vocation?
  • (E) What separates the super salesperson from the average?
  • (A) Where do you want to be in 3 to 5 years?
  • (A) Describe your best boss?
  • (E) What do you like most/least about selling?
  • (A) How would you prefer to be compensated?
  • (A) How can the American way of business be improved?

II. Empathy

» Ask yourself:

  • Does person have the ability to perceive and understand how people think and to predict their reactions?
  • By sensing reactions, can person adjust to them?
  • Can person understand another's point of view without necessarily agreeing with it?

» Ask yourself:

  • (A) How do you feel about and react to objections?
  • (A) What sequence do you follow when overcoming an objection?
  • (A) How do you determine whether an objection is valid or invalid?
  • (A) What courses taken, books read, tapes listened to that have helped improve your people skills? How have they helped?
  • (A) What types of people confide in you?
  • (A) Give me four reasons people buy.
  • (A) Four reasons people don't buy.
  • (E) How do you handle customer complaints?
  • (E) How do you go about sizing up a prospect?

III. Ego Drive & Ego Strength

» Ask yourself:

  • Does person have the need to persuade?
  • Is there a need to win?
  • Can person bounce back from rejection because of high self-esteem?
  • Does person have a healthy, intact ego and accept self for what he/she is and will become?

» Ask yourself:

  • (A) Enjoy participation more in team sports or in solo sports such as bowling, golf, etc.? Why?
  • (A) How do you feel when you know you're going to lose?
  • (A) What motivates you?
  • (A) If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  • (A) Ever involved in debating? If so, which side did you prefer? Why?
  • (A) Ever do any public speaking? What subject matter? How were you received? Do you like public speaking? Why? Why not?
  • (E) Tell me about the most interesting and/or successful sale you ever made.
  • (E) Tell me about a sale you resurrected from the dead; why did you continue on?
  • (E) Do you like making "cold calls"? Why? Why not?
  • (E) How many customers have you lost in the last year? Why? How many added? How did you get them?
  • (E) What do your customers like most about you?

IV. Organization & Planning

» Ask yourself:

  • Can person prioritize and manage time?
  • Are there continuity and logic in his/her presentation and in answering questions?
  • Has person planned and prepared?
  • Has person set and reached goals?
  • Can person deal with complex situations? (Not a necessity in all sales positions.)
  • Is person a self-starter?

» Ask yourself:

  • (NE) Why do you want to sell our product/service?
  • (NE) What makes you think you can sell?
  • (A) Tell me about yourself.
  • (A) Why did you choose ___________U? and your major?
  • (A) How do you plan your vacations?
  • (A) What goals set for next three, six months; year? How do you plan on reaching them?
  • (E) How do you lay out your territory for call frequency?
  • (E) Why did you decide to become a professional salesperson?
  • (E) How do you handle price objections?
  • (E) How do you go about overcoming objections?
  • (E) How do you prepare for calling on a new prospect?
  • (E) What kind of company and boss would you like to work for?

V. Decisiveness

» Ask yourself:

  • Can the person make a quick analysis and judgment to negotiate within certain parameters?
  • Is the person a risk-taker?
  • Is the person too patient and unrealistic about chances of closing the sale?
  • Is the person willing to force a decision when all else has failed?

» Ask yourself:

  • (A) What is the hardest decision you ever had to make? How did it turn out? Would you make the same decision again? Why? Why not?
  • (A) How do you handle procrastinators?
  • (A) Why do you feel people procrastinate?
  • (A) Why do you want to leave your present employment? If they offered you more money, would you stay? Why? Why not?
  • (A) Have you discussed your dissatisfactions with your boss? Results? Why not?
  • (A) If I offered you this job, how soon could you give me an answer?
  • (E) How do you handle a prospect who says, "I want to think it over?"
  • (E) When a prospect keeps putting you off, what do you do?
  • (E) How long is too long to call on a prospect who won't buy?

VI. Charismatic Credibility

» Ask yourself:

  • Do you like, trust and respect the person?
  • Will customers and prospects feel the same way?
  • Is the person credible?
  • Does the person build confidence?
  • Does the person posses integrity?
  • Is this a person you would like as a friend?
  • Is the person a good listener?
  • Is the person a responsible human being?
  • Is the person socially well rounded?

» Ask yourself:

  • (A) What organizations do you belong to? Why did you join? Have you held leadership positions in them? Were they offered to you? Why did you accept or turn down?
  • (A) What do people like most/least about you?
  • (A) Give me your definition of integrity.
  • (A) If there were one course you could take to improve yourself, what would it be? Why?
  • (A) How many close friends do you have? What is your definition of a close friend?
  • (A) What types of social functions do you like to attend?
  • (A) When at a social gathering, among mostly strangers, how do you get acquainted and what topics do you like to discuss? Why?
  • (A) Do you like to give group presentations? Why? Why not? Do you prefer large or small groups? Why?

Your overall evaluation of the candidate:

I. Attitude & Motivation ______________________________________________________

II. Empathy ________________________________________________________________

III. Ego Drive & Ego Strength __________________________________________________

IV. Organization & Planning ___________________________________________________

V. Decisiveness _____________________________________________________________

VI. Charismatic Credibility ____________________________________________________

Notes: ___________________________________________________________________