Human Resources

Properly Conducting a First Interview (Sales-Focus)

How to Properly Interview Salespeople in the First Round

Information is Currency

Now, when you’re doing an initial interview with candidates and it’s kind of in that overlapping, attracting and screening phase. once you have peaked their interest and you’re having a longer conversation with them on the phones, there’s some key data points you’re going to want to take away from the conversation.

So in the case of salespeople you want to objectively be able to measure…

What territory are they covering?
What customers are they focused on?
What products are they dealing with?
What is their revenue?
How many different customers do they have?

This is all very important macro information that you can take away from the conversation and have on your candidate directory or your short list.

Prioritize their Aspirations

You want to learn about their priorities in their career. Figure out, what are their aspirations? What, what, what change are they looking for or what could help them in their career? That way we can effectively trade value with them as you’re recruiting them to your team.

Don’t be Shy About Money, Honey

A critical mistake is to not cover compensation early in this period. You want to make sure that, you know, you’re not hard balling them. You’re not asking for a W2 necessarily, but you’re wanting to know.

What general range of compensation would you be looking in to make a change? You don’t have to get their, their exact numbers. You can, if they’re comfortable with it, but really just see what’s realistic for this person to be able to make a move. So there aren’t any surprises late in the recruiting process.

If negotiations become more complicated, here’s a guide from the Chief Marketing Officer of Gusto “How to Negotiate Salary with a Candidate”

Be Transparent About Your Process

And then at this point, you’re setting expectations for future conversations. Again, we’re not hard selling the opportunity. We’re not trying to force a quick recruiting process because you want to make sure that you’re talking with a lot of different candidates that are meeting your criteria.

Make sure that they know what your timeline looks like, make sure that they know where you are in your process. And then that way you won’t end up having a candidate that feels like they don’t know what’s going on. That they’re just waiting to hear back. Nobody likes just waiting to hear back. It doesn’t give them any warm, fuzzy feelings at all. So make sure that you’re showing them the attention and giving them the information that they deserve as a candidate.

Get More Information About Your Market

And you can also make sure to ask for referrals with other candidates, other, other people that are just like the person you’re speaking with. It’s not always that bad of an idea to ask. Okay. Who do you know reason being, if you’re upfront with them that maybe it’s they’re too high on compensation, maybe you’re looking for something else in their functional background.

It’s okay. If you’ve been honest with them the entire time on what you’re looking for, that you asked them at the end, Hey, if it’s not a fit, you know, who else do you know? Who should I talk with? You know, you seem like a great candidate. You know, you seem like a great sales person who else would really fit the bill, not just for the role, but for our company.

If you do end up screening a few candidates effectively, make sure to avoid the Top Five Recruiting Pitfalls along your interviewing process.

So that’s really how you do like a deeper screen whenever you’re facing the candidates background. if you have any questions, feel free to email me at I look forward to getting introduced. .

By James Aiken

President of Legacy Search, James Aiken has been dynamically involved in recruiting the elite candidates within the building materials industry for many years. With strength in sales and operations, James has built out multiple sales teams for manufacturers and distributors alike. Email him at

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