I was doing some job interviews for a client recently who has hired us for Group and Individual Sales Training in Alberta.  The company was looking to hire a Salesperson and wanted to ensure they hired the right person.  I’ve always felt that job interviews are a two-way street.  Here’s why…

We are involved in dozens of job interviews over our lifetime.  Whether we are applying for the employment opportunity or potentially interviewing someone looking to fill a position, each one of us can vividly recall the great interviews and the ones that didn’t go so well.


What The Employer Wants

The job of the manager screening candidates is to find the best person for the job.  Yet, many managers will openly admit that this is no easy task.  I have been in that position many times, picking my questions carefully to find the best person who will over-perform and be part of the company’s future success.

Every Manager has hired who they thought was a great choice to later find that the performance of the new employee falls shy of expectations.    So, let’s attempt to define exactly what it is that the Manager is looking for in the right fit:


1.  Skills

This is best expressed in a simple formula.  The tasks required to do the job = the current skill set and capability of the individual.  The manager is hoping to find a hand-in-glove fit or as close to that as possible based the applicants seeking the opportunity.  Who is best qualified to do this job?  This is question the Manager needs answered.


2.  Proven Track Record

This helps in answering the above question.  Every Manager is hoping to find someone who has previous experience in performing the functions of the job.  Proven track record also eliminates the high risk factor in hiring the wrong person.  The right skill set and a proven track record narrow the search for the right person.


3.  Positive Attitude

While you can train people in product knowledge and skill set, hiring a person with the right attitude is  the most important quality to search for people.  You can’t train someone to have the right attitude.  They either have it or don’t.  An overabundance of skills and track record do not make up for a bad attitude.


4.  Longevity

Every Manager wants to hire people who will stay and contribute to the company for years to come.  While this is virtually impossible to be certain of, many smart Managers know what questions to ask and observations to make when looking for employees who have plans to stay and not market themselves as free agents in the employment market.


5.  Someone Who Gets It

Ask a Manager what this means to them.  While you may get varied answers, it comes down to this.  Management wants to hire someone who isn’t a pain in the you-know-what.  While every employee should be allowed to voice their sincere opinion, all Managers hope that the philosophy of a new employee coincides with theirs more often than not.


What the Employee Wants

This goes beyond just getting the job.  Talented, skilled people looking for employment want to find the right employer.  They do not want to be looking for another opportunity in the near future.  I have yet to meet someone who really wanted to jump around from job to job.  Many people end up doing this because their needs are not being fulfilled.  So what do employees want?


1.  Job Satisfaction and Happiness

Go figure!  People want to show up for work with a smile on their face and leave the same way.  They want to like their job and the place they work at.  They want to be fulfilled, knowing that they are making a positive contribution to the success of the company.  They want to be confident in their performance and have a relationship of mutual respect with Management.  It’s hard to leave a job when you feel that you are making a difference.


2.  A Future

Positive employees want a career, not a job.  That involves the possibility of a strong future with the  company.  For some, that might mean a promotion into Management.  For others, it’s as simple as an opportunity to contribute toward the future.  Coordinating specific events, being a member of a committee or being asked to help in the development of a fellow staff member is powerful stuff.   People want to learn and grow with a company that is doing the same.


3.  A Boss and Company who Gets It

No one wants to work for a jerk.  People will walk away from a great career because of it.  Every positive employee wants a boss who leads by example, listens to them and allows for their opinion and input.   While every employee understands that their work will be supervised and reviewed, no one wants a micro-manager.  Mutual respect is the glue that bonds the employer-employee relationship.


4.  A Decent Paycheck and Benefits Program

People want to be paid fairly for their services.  They like to see the occasional pay increase coupled with a good benefits package.  They love to see a pension plan and the possibilities of a profit sharing plan.  They like to think that they can share in the financial success of their employer.  This financial need is not the biggest priority for many great employees, yet it is an important part of longevity.


A Match

You may notice that many of the needs of both the employer and right employee are not dissimilar.  So how can the right employer and the right employee find each other?  That answer lies in the quality of the questions and answers that are exchanged in the initial job interview.

This will determine suitability of the employee to the position and company and vice versa.


Great questions for Managers

Q.  Tell me your definition of success.

Q.  What’s the best job you’ve ever had?  Why?

Q.  What job fell shy of your expectations?  Why?

Q.  Describe the kind of job that fits you like a glove.  What is it like?

Q.  What Management style do you thrive on? 

Q.  What Management style holds you back?

Q.  What does the phrase “making a difference” mean to you?


Great Questions for Employees

Q.  What does the right person have to do well in this job?

Q.  What would you expect from the successful applicant after being hired in the first 30 days?

Q.  How would co-workers describe the company?  If I may ask, how would they describe you?

Q.  Is the position newly created or are you looking to fill a vacancy?  Why is it vacant?

Q.  If someone left due to not being successful, what did they lack?

Q.  Describe the behavior and actions of a successful employee in this position.

Q.  How would you describe your management style?


Admittedly, tact and diplomacy need to be exercised by job applicants when asking these questions.  Consider an opening statement like this when given the opportunity to ask questions on your behalf:


“Thank-you, I do.  I believe that you want the same thing I am looking for.  A match.  You want the right person for the job.  I want to find the right company and stay there for a very long time.  I am prepared to work hard, over-perform and make the commitment required.  I just need to find the culture that best suits me.  Does that make sense?  (wait for the yes and start asking the smart questions).”


Afraid you’ll scare off the Manager?

The Manager you are looking to find is a leader who will smile and appreciate your questions.  Any adverse reaction on their part should be a signal of their true management style.   The right boss will answer your questions fully and gain respect for you to care enough to ask them.  Asking these questions of the right Manager will differentiate you and possibly get you the job – if it’s the right one.


Here’s my point

Smart managers and smart employees focus equally on both sides of the equation no differently than two people looking to start a long term relationship.  It must be the right move for both parties.


What do you think?  Would you ask these questions?  Would you appreciate being asked them?



Pro Sales GuyPro Sales Guy


PROSALESGUY TRAINING offers Group and Individual Sales Training, Sales Management Mentoring and Consultation,  and Business Consulting Services in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.  Training can be done on site or via web conferencing.