Interviewing Prospective Salesmen

Interviewing Prospective Salesmen

Interviewing Prospective Salesmen

The interviewing of prospective salesmen is a task which the ONLINE MARKETING Manager may well decide to undertake himself. Alternatively, he may decide to ask his Sales Manager to conduct initial interviews in order to 'weed out' those applicants whom he considers unsuitable. Those who survive this initial assessment can be asked to attend a second interview to meet the ONLINE MARKETING Manager.

Whatever the method adopted, it is important that the inter-viewer should adopt the right frame of mind. One should not regard interviewing as a tiresome chore, to be completed in the shortest time possible. Applicant assessment and selection is a vitally important management function, which, if done in a perfunctory manner, can cost the company a great deal of wasted investment.

The first consideration is that of a suitable venue. A busy sales office where the interviewer is liable to frequent interruption or where the accommodation may be cramped, is unlikely to be the best place to conduct a series of interviews. The interviewer must give the whole of his attention to the job in hand and to do so he may find it desirable to choose a venue which is away from the company's premises. Many organizations hire a suite of rooms at a conveniently situated hotel, where the atmosphere is relaxed and informal.

Informality and relaxation are essential ingredients if one is to have an opportunity of meeting applicants in circumstances in which they will be as normal and unaffected as possible. The interviewer wants to understand as much as he can about the man he is meeting. He wants to observe his manner and behaviour in circumstances which may not be too dissimilar to those in which his customers will observe him. At a formal interview the applicant will behave formally; but he is most unlikely to behave formally when he gets out on the road and calls upon the company's clients.

In order to get a true assessment of the applicant the inter-viewer must treat him fairly and this begins with the location for the interview and the time of the interview. No one is at his best at the end of a lengthy journey. It is desirable, whenever possible, to hold interviews in a place to which it is comparatively easy for applicants to travel. Where a candidate has a long journey to make, it is considerate to schedule his appointment for a time of day which will allow him to complete his journey without having to leave home at the crack of dawn. Thus, in planning a day's interviews, one should arrange for local applicants to be seen in the early part of the morning and late afternoon, leaving the late morning and early afternoon for those who have a long journey to make.

Some thought should be given to the interview room itself. It should be at a comfortable temperature and adequately ventilated. The arrangement of furniture is important. A couple of easy chairs, for interviewer and applicant, with a small occasional table for papers, provides a far better setting than a large desk, acting as a barrier between interviewer and interviewed.

The amount of time to be devoted to each interview will depend upon the nature of the job to be filled. One must allow at least half an hour for each applicant. However, where one is recruiting for more senior positions or salesmen for the industrial field where an assessment of technical knowledge may be involved, forty-five minutes to an hour may be necessary.

The interviewer needs to be relaxed both mentally and physically to get the best results. It is, therefore, desirable to arrange for a limited number of interviews in any one day. If you cram in too many appointments, endeavour to subsist on a hasty sandwich and sit all day in a stuffy room, you cannot expect to have the concentration, or the right attitude of mind, to make an accurate assessment of your applicants. Planning the day is important. Give yourself a break in the mid-morning and the mid-afternoon for tea or coffee. Allow at least an hour for lunch. Try to come as fresh to each interview as the individual candidates.

Before starting your interviewing, consider the object of these interviews. Your purpose is to arrive at an assessment of the qualifications, experience and personality of each applicant and to decide to what extent these are likely to meet the minimum requirements you have set. In making this assessment, you should also consider the attitude and the opinions of each applicant and relate these to his likely performance in the position he is required to fill. Finally, you will need to decide the relative merits of all the men you have seen in order to select those whose qualities most closely satisfy your requirements.

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