Surefire Way To Interview Salespeople

For those of you looking for new sales help in the New Year, let me offer you a tune-up for the way you hire salespeople.

Some of you have long, involved processes that include psych tests (better hope they're certified), questions about whether they were involved in sports in high school (yes, this question is still around), and the highly dubious, "Show me your W-2's" method that is supposed to show whether past performance is predictive of future success.

Forget all of that.  And forget your "gut instinct," too.  Salespeople are good at selling themselves, so anyone who has ever held a sales position and had any success should be able to convince you they know what they're doing.  Most account managers can worm their way into a position by repeating this mantra, "I love the phone.  All business starts with the phone, and if I just continue to make my calls, I'll be successful."

Of course, once they are hired, there always seems to be something that keeps them off the phone (I'm no exception, and have been guilty of it in the past, but you might consider adding this to your employment process in the hire of your next salesperson.

Ask them to write down a schedule of a normal day, their first week, the first 30 days, and the first 90 days. 

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Interviewing The Interviewer

I was watching Curb Your Enthusiasm last night, and Larry David was giving Leon some advice on how to win a job interview.  He said, you have to flip it on him.  You start out answering questions, but after a while, when you've given enough good answers, you have to, in more coarse terms, flip it on them.

Larry_david You become the interviewer.  Hilarious and uncomfortable humor aside, he's exactly right, at least for some kinds of jobs.  This is the one and only time I'll suggest taking advice from the man who brought you The Contest.

The truth is that in some interviews, you should flip the script. 

Certain jobs require, shall we say, a bit of ego, to be done correctly.  I don't mean arrogance, but rather the confidence that you know how to achieve results and the awareness of what you're worth.

This group includes, but is not limited to;

Salespeople, managers, marketers, technophiles, knowledge workers, consultants, and anyone who has a rare skill or one honed over time and in demand.

To get the most out of your interview, someone in high demand has to do as much interviewing as they do answering.  And a good interviewer is looking for just that.  You know that point when the manager stops, puts down their notes, and asks you if you have any questions?  She's not talking about the benefit plan at that point. She wants to know if you're the type of person she has to train, or the type of person that knows what needs to be done, and works with the manager to create an environment for success.



Find out more about Hispanic Recruiting at LatPro.com.


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Oh, And Thanks!

The following is a guest post from the College Recruiter Blogswap, by  Karen Burns, Working Girl.

Everybody says you should send a thank-you letter after an interview.  Everybody is right.

People seem to be getting it because according to the Wall St. Journal about 90 percent of applicants send thank yous.  Good news.

The bad news:  Only half of those personalize their letters.

Ugh.  People are sending form thank yous?  That's worse than no thank you at all!

While we're at it, here are some other ways people are shooting themselves in the thank-you foot:

  1. Mis-addressing the letter (thanking Wendy's for your interview with Burger King)
  2. Sending a thank you with spelling or grammar mistakes ("I appreciate you're time. . .")
  3. Relying on email (okay to email but follow up with a "real" letter)
  4. Not typing the thank you (you ain't writing Aunt Sadie--this is a business letter)
  5. Procrastinating (send thank yous within 24 hours)
  6. Sounding desperate ("I can't wait to hear from you!")
  7. Sounding fake ("I am writing to thank you for the interview" is stilted--be sincere, be yourself, be enthusiastic)
  8. Sounding canned (obviously, no form letters--use your thank you to repeat the highlights of your interview and to remind the employer of who you are, what your skills are, and why you would be great for this job).

Thank-you letters are as important as resumes or showing up for the interview on time.  Don't let yours ruin the good impression you're trying to make.


Top 10 Interview Mistakes I Have Made Over The Years

1.  I haven't fully decided if I want to stay in this industry...

2.  What I'm really looking forward to is working my way into your position...

3.  My last boss would say I was lazy...

4.  How much do I read?  Well, I've had a lot of time on my hands, so lately it's been about a book a day.  You probably don't believe me - but let's see - there was Hunt for Red October, the Panopticon, The Spanish Inquisition, Paul, and the current one, well, this one I'm actually rereading, but it's The End of History and The Last Man.  Have you read Fukuyama?  Fascinating book.  The premise is that capitalist democracy is the final stage in....

5. The shoes are nice - I bought them at Nordstrom's.

6.  I like the job so much - I went out and bought French-speaking CD's in case I had to go to Quebec.

7.  How much did the last guy make?

8.  Gross Profit Margin?  We worked off something called net.  I'm not sure what the number is - 75%, wait - no $14.40 - I won awards for it, but I'm not sure what you're asking for.

9.  The drive is killing me.  I'd love to not be in my car that long every day (for an outside sales position, although one closer to my home).

10.  Of course I'll take the job.  How much does it pay?


Interview With TiVo: William Uranga

William Uranga is the Staffing Director for TiVo.  Yes that TiVo, the DVR that is changing the way we watch television.  Franki and I bought ours several years ago, and to be honest, I don't know how we ever lived without it.

So when we found out William and his team were going to be at the Spring ERExpo, we trotted over and introduced ourselves, and suggested an interview.  The following are the notes from that interview.

TiVo has recently completed a experimental hiring project, using the TiVo box, new recruiting processes, and the Jobster system to find new and exciting ways to hire employees.  TiVo wanted to try something new, as they were suffering the typical heartburn in recruiting one gets from working in Silicon Valley.  to add to their difficulties, TiVo is a boutique shop. They never hire 15 c++ engineers at a shot, each of their needs is individual and unique.

So at first, they made the basic changes.  They went fom 4 major job boards to 2, switched to niche boards, pumped up the referral program and added contractors to the pool of eligible referrers.  That yielded results, but they wanted something new.  So they decided to use their brand to do the hiring.

Brand Recruiting
The first problem William faced was the TiVo experience. It's so much fun, and they put so much stock in the use of the TiVo, that using the brought to hire brought up concerns about diluting the experience.

This was the first time using Brand Recruiting, and there's always the fear that users would not like having TiVo pitch them on working at the company. The big question was how to tap into the excitement that TiVo generates to get a good response.

Initially, they decided to go to conferences and use the TiVo brand as a draw for other people. They went to CES, Digital Life, and tried recruiting at seminars, using meeting rooms.  Then they struck on the idea of using the DVR itself.  They performed a central messaging test, where a white envelope message in the TiVo user screen sent a short text message when selected, which boosted traffic to the TiVo careers site over 2-3 weeks.

But it was while experimenting with ways to sell TiVo advertising that the idea of pitching the TiVo work experience came to light.  Using the options that are normally reserved for Now Playing Lists and advertisement, TiVo decided to try a direct recruiting pitch integrating video, the website, and their new ATS system to reach out to the community.

The System.
The original careers site was not so great, and William admits it.  Feedback told them the website ranked poorly, and their recruiting process needed some tweaks.  So they purchased an Applicant Tracking System, tweaked the site to better reflect the excitement of working at TiVo, and signed a contract with Jobster to set up a referral community and communicate directly with online social networks.

They created two videos"  A 30 second call to action, and a 3 minute plus, MTV Cribs Style video, treating recruiting as advertising and branding, and recognizing that commercial watchers are tired of getting brand crammed down their throat.  So they went for pull marketing, allowing people to choose whether to watch the video, sign up, and join their Jobster community.

The Results
The video was the first sign of success. Users on average completed 95% of the videos, the net result meaning people actually watched the 3 minute spot, and then clicked through for more information.

The information they provided later went to phone and e-mail contacts, which came out in a CSV format and went to the sourcer.  The sourcer then plugged into the jobster software, providing them a place to watch and manage the jobs and brands.  This allowed them to watch people, and manually load the right fits into the ATS (though a link that did it automatically would be nice (take note, Jason)).

At the same time, every person who showed notice was responded to in some way (that’s the big deal).

The TiVo message was originally sent to 1.5 million users.  They had a response rate of 2-2.5% (he had the exact figure, but my CD was scratched with the data)., and of those who applied and indicated interest, they ended up with 12-13,000 people in their target locales.  Not bad for a 500 person company that only advertises for job in the Bay Area and in New York.

The direct results was the hiring of a Senior Director Level Adsales person for about the same amount it would have cost to use a third party firm, and in addition, they have a huge social community of potential hires and referrers through the Jobster network, which will continue to pay dividends for years to come.

Summary:
William sees his project as a success, and TiVo is now looking at the possibilities for other companies with a broader range of hiring needs. Imagine if they can work with national companies with diverse geographical hiring requirements.  Using job advertising and their own experience, they can use the TiVo platform in a non-intrusive, but wildly effective manner.  As teh TiVo user base grows, their ability to  target ads through segmentation (geography, user self-labeling).  Imagine Citibank hiring in eight different cities, segmented to specific zip codes.  Or imagine the value of hiring a tech-savvy audience (as most TiVo users are, in aggregate).

It's a simple matter of going where people are, and letting them self-select their responses.

It's as Easy As TiVo...

This interview is a unpaid and unedited description of a phone interview between Durbin Media Group and William Uranga, Staffing Director for TiVo.


How Many Pages To Your Resume

BusinessPundit asks if the one-page resume is still relevant.  He has statistics, and comments.

My question is why are you focused on the resume?  A resume is like a pair of shoes.  You have to have them to get the job, but the shoes, no matter what they tell you, are not going to be the most important thing.

Candidates spend way too much time on their resumes, and then fail to put time into the social networking and research aspects of a job search.  Now don't get me wrong.  I'm a big fan of resume-writers.  They do have a point, and a good one is a necessity.

But the resume also helps commoditize the job.  And it's a marketing device.  Think of a resume as marketing materials.  Every salesperson knows that when you get the client on the phone, the kiss of death is when the client asks you to send them something.  You have them on the phone, and that is your best chance to move the conversation forward.  Sending them materials gives them a chance to reject you.

It's the same for your resume.  When you get a hiring manager or recruiter on the phone, your best chance to schedule an interview is right then.  If you send them your resume, you give them the chance to reject you.

So get on the phone.  And hand them your resume when you get to the interview, or better yet, when HR asks for it to put in your new hire file.


Social Media Interview Questions

I've been carrying on a short e-mail conversation with Betsy Beard, the inhouse recruiter for Fleishman Hillard, the PR firm looking for a new media/social networks account executive in St Louis.

So I saw the job description, but decided to create my own list of interview questions for social media consultants.  This is a bit more involved than just blogging, but if want a job like this, or are hiring for a job like this, you could do a lot worse then to add these to your job description:

List of New Media Interview Questions

The Basic Job Description:

  • In Plain English, tell me what I’m actually going to be doing for Fleishman, or if I get to create the position.  How much flexibility is there on what needs to be done?
  • What is my manager like.  Do they understand social media, or am I going to be managing my manager for the first few months?
  • Has anyone else done this position for Fleishman Hillard before?
  • I’m going to rattle off a few names here – do they sound familiar?  Twitter, Flikr, Typepad, Wink, Photobucket, Techcrunch, ValleyWag, Technorati.  Does anyone at Fleishman know what these are and use them?
  • What is the salary range?  Do I get bonuses for bringing new projects or billing extra hours?
  • How much travel is involved?
  • Do my duties as a social media expert consist of doing the job, or training clients to do so?

The Tough Questions:

What kind of internet access does Fleishman have?  Are there any blocked feeds or websites?
What is the work from home policy? 
Will I be asked to create or post on fake blogs or leave fake comments?
Do you have a corporate blogging policy in place?
What about my personal activities?  What happens to current blogs and current properties I have a stake in?
Will I be signing a non-compete or a document that says Fleishman will own anything I create while I work there?
Do you have other social media and Web 2.0 types there that I can learn from?

The important details:

Do I get a cool laptop?  Mac or PC?
What is the dress code?
Which IM client do we use?
How far away is the nearest Starbuck’s?  Is there a local coffee shop I will be able to visit?
What about parking? 
Any cool perks?  Awards – trips to other cities?

I've sent this list to Betsy asking her for her responses.  I hope she will be able to answer them all, and if she does, well, one of you better come through.  At the very least, link this post if you like the questions.

Fleishman isn't the only one looking - IBM is looking for a social media guru who wants to travel 100%. If either of these positions suits you, shoot me an e-mail and I'll pass your name along, if you have the chops.  No resumes - Let your url's do the talking.

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Blogswap Guest Post: Rejection - Don't Be Blue

The following is a guest post by Liz Handlin for the CollegeRecruiter.com Blogswap.

Every job seeker, no matter how talented and experienced, has received at least one dreaded rejection letter in his or her career. And, no matter how talented and experienced the job seeker, rejection always brings up deep seated insecurities and that inevitable question: "Why?"

Even though it is a drag to be rejected by a potential employer the key to landing a job is not to dwell on missed opportunities and just keep focusing on possibilities. Nearly every time I have ever been rejected after interviewing for a job, I later discovered information that made me realize that the rejection was a blessing in disguise.

For example, I once interviewed with one of the world's largest banks for what I thought was a dream opportunity. I was scheduled to fly back for a final round of interviews that should have culminated in an offer when I got a call from the HR department informing me that they were not going to fill the job. I was devastated. But then a couple of weeks later I found out that the bank was restructuring and laying off thousands of employees including the entire department with which I had been interviewing. Whew. I guess I dodged a bullet!

If you don't have a job and are getting rejection letters after interviewing, the process can be both scary and depressing. Do not let yourself get so down on yourself or depressed that your interview skills suffer. Each job interview has to be a whole new world of positive thinking. Don't reflect on past losses, failures, or rejections when preparing for an interview. Prepare and put a positive spin on everything that you discuss with your interviewers. Positive thinking will get you far in interviews.

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HireVelocity: Interview from an ERE exhibitor

While at the ERExpo, I happened upon Dennis Smith hanging out at the Hirevelocity booth.  Since anything Dennis likes, the rest of us by definition would like, I took the opportunity to get an interview from Jill Rosenfield.  These are her answers to my questions on what makes HireVelocity tick.

Questions for HireVelocity:

1)  What is HireVelocity?  Can you give me a) HireVelocity in 10 words or less, and b) A 30-second Elevator pitch?

A). We are an RPO - Recruitment Performance Optimization firm.
B). We provide sourcing and screening services to large companies with Talent Acquisition organizations.  Our output is Qualified, Available, and Interested (QAI) candidates to corporate recruiters.  This frees the Corporate Recruiters up to spend time with Candidate Control and Hiring Manager Relationship Management.

2) How long have you been around?  Where are you located?

3 -1/2 years.  Locations in Atlanta, Tampa, Salt Lake City and Hyderabad, India.

3)  Do you see yourself as a competitor to third party recruiting firms?  Is there any room to work together?

To a certain extent they will see us as a competitor for the easier-to-fill positions.  However, we really emphasize the importance of Search firms once we have proven, for a low cost, that the right candidate is going to come from a search firm.

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JobMachine Interview: Sourcers Extraordinaire

Shally Steckerl and Dave Mendoza are super-sourcers.  Neither need an introduction from me, and but they just started a new business, and I truly think that most recruiters (both third-party and corporate) could benefit from their services.  Don't know what sourcing is?  Heard about it but unsure how it applies to you?  Read on for how JobMachine can help you place more of those talented passive candidates next year.

1)  What is JobMachine?  Can you give me a) JobMachine in 10 words or less,
and b) A 30-second Elevator pitch?

a) JobMachine creates, consults and trains recruiters on the world's most
advanced sourcing techniques.

b) The focus of JobMachine's consulting practice is to add value to our
customer’s sourcing and recruiting teams by helping them build core
competencies and organizational capabilities. We have helped architect
sourcing and research teams at companies like Microsoft, Google, Cisco,
Coca-Cola Enterprises and Motorola, and have advised and trained many
others.

2) What exactly does a sourcer do? Do you just find lists of candidates and
hand them to companies?  How is that different than what Jigsaw, ZoomInfo,
or a list broker does?

Sourcers utilize all databases including JigSaw and Zoominfo, as well as
resume boards, among hundreds of other sources. However, a sourcers true
value is in being able to conduct original research using a combination of
ethical telephone elicitation techniques and advanced manipulation of search
engine data to identify the names, titles and contact information for
prospective candidate leads that may potentially fit open requirements. A
sourcer may work internally or externally, providing an organization with
the results of the original research so recruiter can then call the
prospects to gain their interest.

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