Learn How to Interview From the Pros: The #1 Lesson For Hiring the Best Talent

Don’t just rely on the resume.  Ask any successful entrepreneur or business leader about the lessons he/ she learned from growing a successful business, they will be sure to talk about hiring mistakes and that dreaded bad hire.  Hiring “A Players” for any organization is tricky business.  “Hiring the wrong candidate can be devastating personally AND to the sales organization. The financial costs can be upwards of two, three or four times the annual salary of the candidate. With stakes so high, it’s not a surprise many hiring managers are terrified of the hiring process.”  Keenan speaks in detail about what to look for and how to find those killer sales people:  Why it’s Hard to Identify Killer Sales People in an Interview and What to Do About It.  It’s important to distinguish the coachable candidates from the “bad eggs” that will inevitably cost your organization time and resources.  The A-ha! moment is knowing that you can’t find this on their resume, a person’s ability to learn and grow, and be coached does not reside in his/her resume or skill set.  It’s wise to look to leaders who have already made the mistakes.  While it’s healthy to learn from your mistakes and pave your way professionally and personally, it’s redundant to “reinvent the wheel”.   When asked how her leadership style has evolved, Michelle Peluso, chief executive of Gilt Groupe answers, “I sometimes kept people on the team because their skill set was so great, even though they were kind of poisonous. I call them morale zombies. Now I make decisions really fast on that stuff”.  Hiring bad people is top-of-mind when it comes to good business practice.  You can’t get away with it and continue to be a successful leader.  It’s a leadership issue not just an HR practice.  Read the NY times interview here: Michelle Peluso of Gilt Groupe: I Don’t Need an Ivory Tower (or an Office). True leaders don’t just have a lot of “good stories” to tell.  Their bad experiences are the arsenal they draw from to avoid that costly bad hire.  They’re not just horror stories (even though they can be a entertaining to read and hear).  The point is through experience, you can identify bad hires by asking probing questions to affirm your suspicions and make the best decision.  Here are some more real-life experiences people have had with hiring the wrong people, and how they got to the root of it: “Wanting to expose Mike to an aversion, our hiring manager said, ‘You said you were OK with criticism. So can I share one with you?’ The hiring manager pointed out several instances during the interview when Mike strayed from the path of the conversation and provided unnecessary details. Basically, he told Mike he was a long talker, an issue which sales reps need to correct in order to be effective. As the hiring manager delivered this message, Mike’s smile became a scowl and his face turned beet red. He leaned forward on the conference room table and curled his hands into fists. His loud reaction included such comments as Who do you think you are? and I’ve never been so insulted in my life!”  Is Your Hiring Process Too Friendly? via ere.net. “He was a borderline narcissist. His reaction to my coaching often approached rage. I hired him for his past performance in another industry. But, I failed to fire him quickly when I realized he was unwilling to change.”  My Un-Resume.  I Didn’t Fire Him Fast Enough via andersonleadershipsolutions.com “I was conducting a recent interview (with a recruiter), and when asked about their greatest sales failure, they mentioned that they would send what they considered qualified candidates forward for further screening/interviewing and that management would “blow up” the interview. When I asked more about the situation, it came to light that the candidate was not being totally honest in their conversation with potential candidates so that they could hit their numbers and push them forward. The end result was a lead that never had a chance. Furthermore, the potential candidate got a bad taste and impression of their company because of the actions of that recruiter. This is not coachable it is a character failure.”  -Bob Rollins, Recruiter Extrordinarire @ A Sales Guy Recruiting The ability to receive criticism constructively, and how they approach it is what separates the good from the bad.  There are countless candidates that fit the skill-set requirements of a desired position, but what is consistent with all successful “A Players” is their aptitude to take criticism, under pressure, and apply it in a way that will improve the situation.  If an organization cannot depend on its people to change and improve, where will it come from?  The leadership?  Of course, but if leadership is doing its job and the people can’t do anything with it, well…you’ve got a huge problem.  If you’ve hired and identified someone that cannot be coached, the worst mistake you can make is not letting go fast enough. What are some red flags that point to those bad hires that might look good on paper but really aren’t “A Players”?  And what could you ask to get to the root of it?  Share with us some of your stories in the Comments!


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.