Conducting interviews - Sales Management

The selection process will normally take more than one interview, possibly supported by other forms of assessment tests. Candidates you consider most suitable should be invited for interview (by letter or telephone) with you or a personnel manager as soon as possible, and if you plan to use other assessment techniques the candidates should be notified of that, and advised of the duration of the selection process.

The interview environment

The interview stage of the recruitment process should be treated as systematically as each of the preliminary selection stages of exploring alternative applicant sources,advertising and screening applications (Figure ). It is unwise to try to slot interview sin between other appointments and management activities. Comparisons will be less meaningful and interviews less thorough if you see individual job applicants under widely divergent circumstances at different times.

  • Allocate a specific time period (a day,morning, or whatever is needed) to the interviewing of applicants.
  • Conduct all interviews without interruption sin suitably private locations such as your office or a hotel room.

Duration of the interview

The time you need to allocate to an interviews that you can satisfy yourself you have formed an objective assessment of a job applicant will vary according to your personal interviewing skills. Generally you should expect to allow about 30 to 60 minutes per candidate at a first interview. Experience will show that a good proportion of candidate scan be eliminated objectively within 15to 30 minutes, where they fail to match the personnel specification for qualities, skill sand experience.

Interview conduct and content

The way you conduct the interview and its general content is critical to obtaining relevant information to enable you to evaluate candidates in the minimum time. The possible broad structure of the interview process could consist of:

  1. Personal introductions. Introduce yourself by name and position so that the candidate does know whom he or she is talking to; candidates are frequently nervous and a smile always goes a long way towards relaxing a nervous interviewee.
  2. Introduction to the company, the products and the job. Ideally this should take no longer than five minutes. Prepare note son your introductory presentation to ensure you cover all the main points systematically.

It is also useful to have some product samples and literature in the interview room.

The introductory commentary should cover:

  • a brief history of the company and outline of main company philosophies
  • a product range summary (best shown by photographs and examples)
  • the job functions (you can provide a job description now or while the candidates waiting for the interview)
  • the main terms and conditions of employment.
  1. The actual interview.

At this stage, as the objective is to interview the candidate rather than the reverse, it is unwise to permit yourself to wander off at tangent in response to distracting questions or comments. If a question is raised which you will cover in your introductory commentary you can just delay response with a comment such as‘That is an important point, and
I do plan to comment on that in a moment.’

Format of the interview

The format of an interview will vary according to your personal experience and inter-view style, but some useful guidelines of‘do’s and don’t's’ are shown in a checklist.

At the outset, in getting yourself into the interview frame of mind, ask yourself two questions:

‘Do I know what I am looking for?’
‘Will I recognize it when I do see it?’

You will find that the actual conduct of an interview is easiest if it follows a simple chronological pattern. Your objective is to elicit information on aspects of a person’experience, background circumstances and personality that will impact on his or her ability to integrate into the company team and effectively perform the job functions you assign to him or her.


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