pre-screening employees

Pre-Screen Sales Applicants with a 10-Minute Phone Interview

Posted in: Hiring Salespeople

Pre-screening employees is the best method for sales force testing, and here’s why…

Did you know a 10-minute phone call is all you need to pre-screen your sales applicants? Pre-screening employees is the best method for salesforce testing How can you get all the info you need in such a short period? We pre-screen sales applicants in 10 minutes all the time. It works because every potential applicant takes an assessment test before your phone interview.

Since the assessment test does most of the pre-screening, you can do a 10-minute phone interview vs. the usual 30- or 60-minute one. After you have your pre-screened qualified list, you can start a more robust behavioral, Top grading, or structured interview process to get the shortlist for the final in-person interview.

Automate the assessment test taking, but not so fast…

We suggest clients create an autoresponder for each job opening. Someone should thank them for applying after someone applies for your job (via your career page or job posts). Many companies use an auto-responder or an applicant tracking system (ATS).

The auto-response should include wording such as “Thanks for your interest; we ask every applicant to complete an online job assessment before our first interview. This way, we ensure our company and this job are good fits for you. Please take our online assessment test as soon as possible (place a link to your online test.)”

We have noticed a couple of factors in monitoring response rates when pre-screening employees. We got better response rates in the past when we delayed the autoresponder reply for 2-3 hours. As people are more comfortable with technology today, an immediate auto-responder reply will probably work, but you should play around with the setting to see what happens.

In addition, you can’t be sure that your email got through their spam filter, so a short friendly VM saying look for our email may be needed.

If you are in a tight job market with fewer applicants for each job, your response should refer to something unique about the applicant. This does show applicants that you have read their application and can increase response rates. Still, you want to include that link to your sales assessment test in your response.

Conduct a quick 10-minute screen of only qualified applicants

If you only interview the truly qualified applicants, you can work through your applicant pipeline very quickly. We’ve seen some companies create a 40-hour screening process for each applicant. What a colossal waste of time! As with any business activity, consider your “return on time invested.”

When pre-screening employees, would you spend 40 hours on follow-up with a poorly qualified prospective customer? We hope not. Job applicants must demonstrate they are good fits before you invest in-person time. By screening first, you eliminate the personal bias of selecting applicants via a personal interview. As we’ve said before, personal interviews have a horrible track record of resulting in bad hires.

Pre-screening employees is the best method for sales force testing

Topics to use when pre-screening sales applicants over the phone. Remember…this is a sales call, let them sell you! Your job is to emulate your typical prospect! The screener must be able to judge the sales skills of each applicant.

We create a customized interview scorecard for items we want to cover in this pre-screening call. (Note: if you want a sample copy of our pre-screening scorecard, contact us). Our generic scorecard covers categories such as:

  • was on time (part of the success in sales is showing up)
  • had the appropriate presence
  • demonstrated rapport and warmth
  • did their homework
  • matched experience & knowledge requirements
  • closed for an appointment (this is a sales job… they should do this)

We assign points for each item and give every applicant a final score. At the end of the pre-screening phase, we rank all applicants based on their score. We invite folks with the highest scores in for a structured interview.

If you need help establishing an effective process for selecting sales candidates, please contact us. Our team has years of experience in helping companies field the best sales teams.