The 2-Minute Sales Interview

Before you go investing a ton of time and effort in setting up and conducting a face-to-face interview, consider a two-minute telephone interview with the potential sales candidate.

While this is particularly important if you’re considering investing in an airline ticket to fly someone in for a formal interview, that isn’t the primary reason for this tip. The main purpose of the call is to evaluate the salesperson’s telephone voice and general demeanour.

Psychologists tell us that there’s a correlation between language skills and intelligence. People who communicate well tend to be some of the brighter bulbs on the tree. However, there’s probably an even more relative reason for conducting a two-minute telephone interview.

Much of today’s selling is done over the telephone. If the salesperson doesn’t impress you with his performance on the telephone, he won’t impress your prospects either.

Have a half-dozen, open-ended questions ready. Simply start with, “Tell me about yourself,” and then shut up. Listen to the person’s grammar, diction, pacing, inflection, etc.   Does he have an accent that makes listening to him difficult and a chore? If he stumbles around, slurs his words, or can’t string four words together in a cohesive phrase, thank him and move along to the next candidate.

Yes, you may throw out the occasional diamond in the rough with this approach, but how much time do you have available to do diamond polishing? It’s far too easy to make a bad hiring decision these days and the two-minute interview might just improve your odds.