Without a solid recruitment process in place, it's difficult, if not impossible, to hire salespeople. Key steps in the process, such as coordinating second interviews or extending offers, may be delayed days or even weeks. Inconsistencies within the process, such as how assessments or preemployment checks are being used, may also affect productivity or retention down the road.
So what's a sales manager to do?
- Build a process and follow it consistently. Your internal human resources (HR) group or recruiting partner is an excellent resource to help analyze what's working and not working within your process, so you can figure out how to best move candidates through the pipeline. A predetermined process allows the company to set milestones and measure success against them. Consistency and putting all candidates through the same process allow for more accurate comparisons and better-informed decisions.
- As you develop a recruitment process, watch out for roadblocks and decide how to mitigate them. For instance, is it difficult to schedule in-person interviews because decision makers are traveling? Consider telephone and Skype interviews for your first round and in-person meetings for candidates who make it to the next round. This keeps the recruiting process moving and strong candidates warm.
- Prescreen. This is best left to your HR group or recruiting partner, who can screen a larger volume of candidates at a faster pace, freeing you to do other things (such as all that traveling). At this stage, prescreening questions that ask about licensing or education level, for example, explore whether candidates meet the minimum requirements for the position. These factors often determine whether a candidate is ultimately suitable, so it's best to screen for these skills up front to save you and the candidate from embarking on a lengthy, fruitless interview process.
- Interview by phone. If your new employee will be working on-site, this may be an optional part of the process; however, it's a vital part for virtual roles or roles that require heavy telephone work, such as inside sales. Still, if you're on the fence about a candidate, a phone screening may help tip the scales and determine whether an in-person meeting is necessary.
- Interview in person. After the initial vetting stages, this is where a hiring manager can dig deeply into a candidate's experience and evaluate overall fit. No matter the interview setting – individual, panel, or anything in between – craft interview questions that fully probe into the candidate's work history, experience, and skill sets. Stay away from hypothetical scenarios and instead focus on actual accomplishments and difficulties over the candidate's career. If you're working with a recruiter, request copies of the recruiter's notes to compare your findings.
- Schedule ride-alongs. This step gives candidates a real-world job preview and allows the hiring manager to evaluate the candidate on the job. To speed the process, schedule a ride-along for the day of your first interview, especially since candidates who may be working will need to take time off for the interview, and these requests can delay the process. If the job isn't what the candidate expects, you'll know sooner rather than later.
- Conduct assessments and preemployment checks. Confer with your HR group or recruiting partner on how best to use assessments within your process – or find out if it's really necessary for the position you're filling. Assessments may be an informative tool to use for positions involving complex sales, long selling cycles, and hunting, while entry-level jobs with flexible requirements may not see added value. Whatever tool you use, do your homework, and make sure your information has been scientifically vetted. Spend time understanding your assessment's reporting tools and how its findings support your interviews. As for background checks and drug testing, make sure you're up-to-speed on HR law and consistent about how you're using preemployment checks within the process.
Building an effective process is the key to success, whether a company is making one hire or 100. A solid process helps establish important milestones within the hiring lifecycle and identify measures of success so that hiring stays on target.