During my first real job interview, immediately after college I was asked a series of interview questions for a recruiting and sales position. The meeting was with the owner of the franchise who also had a tremendous track record as a successful salesperson. However, one question has stayed with me all these years and perhaps more importantly the answer given by the franchise owner.
“In your opinion, what is the most important skill you must possess to be successful as a sales professional?”
My answer: The ability to establish relationships.
Perhaps most people would have given the same response and even more believe to be the correct answer (or at least that which my interviewer was looking for).
RESILIENCY. As I learned that day, believe today, and share as often as I can to anyone who will listen, is the most important skill you must possess to be a successful sales professional. All relationships, in every aspect of life, are tested regularly. Any salesperson and most certainly, every recruiting professional, will tell you that there are peaks and valleys throughout the sales cycle. It is how we respond to each that will set us apart from our competition. Today’s business is becoming increasingly more commoditized as information and resources are made readily available to our markets at warp speed. Thus, testing our ability to overcome objection after objection and negotiation after negotiation. So, how do we as recruiting professionals as well as the hiring authorities we represent assess a candidate’s resiliency? We can structure our interview questions based on the STAR interview technique.
The STAR interview technique is a behavioral (e.g. soft skills) interview question and answer method used to help predict future performance. In this method, the interviewer(s) seek answers to questions based on a Situation, Task/Target, Action, and Result previously experienced by the candidate. Utilizing the STAR technique provides structure while assisting the candidate and interviewer to stay focused on the answers. Focus during the interview is a two-way street. The candidate should remain on topic, provide specific answers based on past situations, and maintain the action he or she took to resolve the matter. The interviewer should listen and document each element of the answer. An accurate reference will later provide the information necessary to properly assess how the candidate answered the question (did they provide a complete STAR) and did the answer (e.g. the action taken by the candidate) fit a characteristic ideal for success.
Adaptability, Prioritization, Active Listening, and Leadership; just a few soft skills a behavioral based interview should be structured to identify, evaluate, and reinforce the overall selection.
If we apply the STAR technique to assessing resiliency, as well as the soft skills mentioned above, as a defining characteristic of a successful (or future successful) sales professional, we can better determine how the candidate will perform when (not if) a similar objection is presented to them again.