At RSU Contractors, promising candidates for sales positions are asked to complete this pre-interview questionnaire. The company reviews the answers to determine if the applicant is a viable candidate, then schedules a phone interview, which may lead to an in-person interview. Candidates who fail to return the questionnaire do not move forward in the process.
The questionnaire helps the company focus on the strongest candidates, says Mark Williams, CEO of the Nashville, Tenn., company, and helps gauge candidates’ aptitude for sales.
Those who don’t take the time to fill out the questionnaire completely are not right for the job, Williams says, noting that he believes a person interviewing for a sales position should “be selling themselves.”
“It also shows how the person communicates in writing,” he says—an important part of any sales position. Williams says that some candidates have told him they like having time to think about the questions. Their answers provide talking points for the phone and in-person interviews.
A. Employment status: Mark Williams, CEO of RSU Contractors, prefers candidates—even those who are unemployed—to be “active in something” whether it’s working on a contract basis or volunteering.
B. Difficult situations: There will inevitably be times when salespeople have to communicate with clients about difficult situations. In answer to this question, Williams seeks specific descriptions from candidates, not hypotheticals.
C. Compensation: The answer provides an opening during the phone or in-person interview to discuss base salary and commission. Williams says that the job candidate has to understand that increasing commission will take time. “It’s an investment on both sides,” he points out.
D. Project type: Defining what specific sales experience the candidate has helps RSU in its efforts to pursue specific market segments.
E. Sales relationships: “We want people who have been in a sales environment and who understand that it’s about relationship-building,” Williams says. By asking for specific examples from past jobs, Williams can gain some clear insights into the sales rep’s ability to relate to clients.
F. Customer service: RSU asks about customer service because it doesn’t want the salesperson to sell the job and then simply disappear. It wants someone who will stay involved throughout the process and attend benchmark meetings with clients. The salesperson is also responsible for wrapping up the job and making sure the final billing is correct.