Is That Your Final Answer?

As a recruiter that was born a sales guy; I hate it when I’m interviewing a candidate for a sales position and they give me a canned or “what they think I want to hear” answer to one of my questions.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s just about the same as a lie.  You might be thinking to yourself, why does it matter?  If you are a recruiter that wants to provide the best possible candidate to your client, you have to find out who they really are and what their story is, not just how polished they are at interviewing.  You can’t do that if your candidate gives you pre-planned canned answers and doesn’t open up to you. I was interviewing a candidate for an outside sales job and asked him very simply what he loved about sales.  What I got in returned actually ticked me off and I called him out on his answer.  He gave me a long drawn out answer about providing the best customer service, giving the customer what they want, interacting with amazing people, and the challenge brought to every new day and every potential sale.  I said, “seriously, that’s what you love about sales, is that your final answer?”  I told him I didn’t want some canned, rehearsed, typical polished PC recruiter answer.  I wanted to know what he loved about sales!  He laughed and said money, I love how much money I can make.  Now that was finally an honest and straight from the heart answer.  As a point of fact, my client would have hung up on this guy if he didn’t mention money in the first 30 seconds of an answer to my question.  I will never coach a candidate to lie or change their answer while on an interview, but I will call them out and make them answer honestly every time. During another interview, and after about a half an hour of really good conversation, I asked a young man what his current base salary was.  He was shocked that I had the nerve to ask such a personal question.  He said that he didn’t feel comfortable giving me that information.  His reaction honestly made me chuckle a little bit.  Again, is that your final answer?  I told him that my job, provided he was a qualified candidate, was to get him hired for the perfect job and to get him a pay raise in the process.  I couldn’t do that if I didn’t know what he was currently making.  He sheepishly provided me the requested salary information and thanked me.  At the end of the day, I have to know enough information so that the client and the candidate both agree on an offer letter when it is put forward.  I don’t believe in wasting time on both sides (three sides if you count me) or negotiating some back and forth counter game.  Let’s get it done! Another example of “is that your final answer” is turned on the recruiter themselves.  From my experience, most recruiters will ask a question to a candidate and write down their answer verbatim.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind writing down questions and answers, I do that myself while on an interview.  What I do mind is when a recruiter is so focused on getting an answer to every question they don’t actually listen to the answer.  If you don’t hear the answer, you can’t possibly drill down to ask follow up questions.  All you get is surface answers and have no depth of knowledge of your candidate.   In this case “is that your final QUESTION” applies. It is my job as a recruiter to know everything about my candidates.  I need to know how many other recruiters they are working with, if they have other job offers on the table, and if they are doing a job search just to get a counter offer or pay raise from their current employer.  I owe that to my clients who trust me to bring them “A” talent.  I would hate to bring the perfect candidate to one of my clients just to find out after 3 interviews and an offer letter that they were never really interested in the first place. As a recruiter you have to ask the hard questions, the uncomfortable ones, the ones that will get your candidate’s story.  If you don’t have their story, you don’t have a candidate, and at the end of the day you are just another  typical recruiter that pushes check boxes and resumes to your clients.  


Keenan is A Sales Guy Inc’s CEO/President and Chief Antagonist. He’s been selling something to someone for his entire life. He’s been teaching and coaching almost as long. With over 20 years of sales experience, which he’ll tell you he doesn’t give a shit about, Keenan has been influencing, learning from and shaping the world of sales for a long time. Finder of the elephant in the room, Keenan calls it as he sees it and lets nothing or no one go unnoticed.