You Want Me To Do What?

Have you ever had an interview for a job and been asked to do something that made you stop and question what the interviewer was thinking? I’m not referring to anything unethical or immoral, but more of a challenge you didn’t expect. Sometimes, there is a lot more to a challenge than simply the requested task. Sometimes, it’s all about your reaction. I was recently interviewing a candidate for a business development role that required an above average ability to open doors to C-Level executives. I decided to challenge the candidates by posing to them the very task that they would have once hired. I asked each of them to go open the door to a potential client and set up an appointment for me. I honestly just wanted to see their response. Would they shy away and give an excuse to why it couldn’t be done, or would they whole heartedly accept the challenge and move forward in the interview process? Another example of one of my challenges is one of my favorites for interviewing sales people. I like to give the candidate a 2 minute overview of the company, our products/services, and who our target customers are. I then look them in the eye and say you’re hired; now sell me on the company. A great sales person will stumble and fumble but give it a shot and try to sell me. The candidate who didn’t really pay attention will bag and run for the door. It’s not about how polished your resume is or how well you dress, it’s about whether you can do the job. I need to know that BEFORE I hire you, not find out 60 days after that you were all smoke and mirrors with no substance. Companies can’t afford to hire bad sales people. The cost, time, and effort involved in on-boarding, not to mention the lost sales revenue from hiring incapable sales people, can cripple a company. Why are more decision makers not challenging their candidates before hiring them? I placed a sales account executive for a client this year that had hunger and desire, but no real sales experience. The CEO of the company set a task for him to do a full sales presentation (without training or assistance) just to see what skills he had. Talk about pressure – but this guy blew them away and got the job! He even tried to go for the close at the end of the presentation! Today, he is on his way to being a sales rock star for that company. When I spoke to the CEO, his goal was simply to see how hungry the kid was and if he would quit and run when challenged. In my opinion we need more challenge and less hand holding in the interview process. It’s time to get serious and stop the crap shoot. It’s time to stop costing the company thousands of dollars from bad hires. Interviewing to find “A” players is not easy so if you can’t do it, find someone that can.


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.