Linda Hertz Group

My Medical Device Sales Career

6 Secrets Hiring Sales Managers Look For In The First Interview

When Human Resources interviews they often will quickly review your resume and then ask set “situational questions”. These vary by company and I can address these in future articles, but given my Sales Manager background, I will stick to what I know best; what most sales managers look for and will ask in that CRITICAL FIRST phone or “face to face” interview.  Knowing exactly what that manager is looking for WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE in moving forward towards getting the job or getting left behind with all the other failed candidates.  I will outline the 6 secrets hiring managers won't tell you; THEIR game plan for weeding out the keepers from the throw-away candidates!  

To understand the managers interview process and the type of questions a hiring sales manager is going to ask, you must understand a managers mindset in the first interview (phone or face to face). They are trying to quickly “size up” the candidate and really find reasons to eliminate you quickly.  We call them finding a candidates “red flags”. If they find the red flags quickly, then they save a lot of time and shorten the interview. Good hiring managers have already sized up your resume and liked what they saw well enough to interview you; they have already assessed the possible red flags before they started the interview and they want to get to that sooner than later.So this is what you should anticipate in a first interview:

  1. Questions surrounding your understanding of the company and the job: Products, Call Points, Geography of Territory, specific requirements of job and possibly your earning expectations.  The manager is listening for the amount of homework you did on the company, the products and the specifics of the job at hand.
  2. The Hiring Manager will then often ”fill in the pieces” by correcting or adding information to enhance your understanding of the position and the company. If the manager has to fill in too many pieces, the interview will be very are OUT!  You didn't do enough homework or preparation.
  3. If everyone is still interested, the hiring manager will begin to review your resume. Some will delve right into what they perceive as possible red flags in your resume (if any) others will start with your most recent employment and work back to your college days, others prefer to start from college graduation and work forward through your resume. The questions will often center upon your decision making reflected in the flow of your work career:
    • Job Gaps and why (periods of unemployment)
    • Why you joined a company and specifics of what enticed you to take the job
    • Why you left a company (specific factors that led you to make the decision to leave)
    • College decisions, yes most big companies still want your GPA even if years ago!
    • How you paid for your college education (paid yourself, loans, scholarships and etc.)
    • Sales Performance in each position, quota attainment, NATIONAL rankings and TOP sales awards.
    • You will be asked if you have a Brag Book or some form of documentation of your sales performance; If you don't have any, this interview will probably end right here and right now!
  4. Any point along the way, if a red flag comes up, the hiring manager will hover around it and probably revisit it with more questions for you. One thing for certain, if the manager decides it is a “knock out” factor the interview normally ends shortly thereafter!
  5. A good hiring manager will ask, if there is time, what motivates you every day as you head out the door for work.  Be prepared to define your top 2 to 4 motivators.  The hiring manager will be listening very intently depending on his type of company culture and job.  (I will post another blog here to define this further)
  6. Lastly, especially for a sales position, the hiring manager is looking for a strong CLOSE at the end of the interview!  If you don't close the interview you won't be moving on!  Who wants to hire a sales person who can't even close the interview?  There is ONE CLOSING QUESTION you must ask...and the question only evokes two possible answers; A YES OR A NO. See related articles on HOW TO CLOSE THE INTERVIEW.

Remember that if the first contact is a phone interview (see 11 Steps To Mastering The Phone Interview) then your first impression is the spoken word and everything you say is magnified.  A hiring manager will listen to not only what you are saying but almost more importantly how you are saying it.

Are you speaking intelligently, using words and vocabulary that would reflect a person who would be hired to talk to the type of customer or call point of the company?  A sales job calling on surgeons or the CEO level of an organization is requiring a whole different level of selling sophistication vs. one calling on Mom and Pop retail stores!  Are you sounding “sharp” and “succinct” and energized or distracted, tired or simply not “on it”? Do you sound knowledgeable or are you groping for words and saying “e’m” and “well ah”, and long pauses in the conversation before your respond to the questions? Do you sound like a “go getter” or a “laid back” person. Are you using words that are not impressive and land with a thud like “stuff”, “you know”, and using any four letter words of any kind (even the ones they can say on TV…mild ones should not be used)?

My Hiring Manager Clients almost always mention first how the person sounded before we even get into the background qualifications of the candidates AND they almost always become the knock-out factor to getting the “face to face” interview. They often will say “the candidate just didn’t sound like someone who could do the job or someone I would want to have on my team, let’s pass on them”. There is a reason for the cliche’ “I just didn’t like the sound of it”!

The phone interview can be one of the most important and difficult interview venues to master due to the lack of visual contact that compliments the spoken word. You are missing that opportunity of “looking them in the eye” and asking them for the next interview step. The playing field is different and you must be aware of the speaking and verbal interviewing skills that are needed to master this event!

If your first interview is "face to face" then you must obviously "look the part" as well.  Most sales candidates do well when they can shake a hand and sit down with the hiring manager, they are use to that type of venue every day as they conduct their outside sales calls.  Just remember to incorporate that experience into the interview and remember that on this call, YOU ARE THE PRODUCT and the HIRING MANAGER IS THE CUSTOMER.  You must meet his 6 customer needs as outlined above before you can get to the next step in the interview process!

©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved

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Started by Devin Hanson in Ask Linda Jun 14, 2020. 0 Replies


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