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Tips for a Sales Manager: How to Avoid Hiring The Wrong People

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When something’s not going completely right in the company, the manager is expected to go and trace down the sources of the problem. In many cases, if your employees are not delivering the performance required, it turns out that they never were the right person for the job in the first place. Staying alert and on top of the hiring process with these tips could stop you from making such a costly mistake ever again.

Hire proactively. Do not wait until you have a job opening to fill. Be in alert mode constantly and look out for new talent that may come by. Blame Murphy’s law, but you usually stumble across the biggest talents when you’re not in desperate need of them, and vice versa. If you’re consistent, you may end up making a good network of A players who are just a phone call away, instead of settling for what comes your way when you really need to find someone.

Take the time to read through references. No, really, I mean it. Pay attention to what the candidate’s previous employers had to say, and focus on the details. Better, pick up the phone and personally check unlisted references as well. There may be a reason they were unlisted, and you may want to know about them.

Don’t rely on your gut. Rely on the proven tools. Many times I’ve seen the advice of “following your instincts” or “believing your gut feeling” being given to managers as the golden rule of hiring. No way. Your personal sympathies or dislikes can easily turn into prejudices (see next point), that at the end of the day will have nothing to do with the candidate’s qualifications for the job. There are tools and procedures to help you choose the best candidate. Stick to them.

Keep an open mind. Put your gut and instincts aside, and give an equal chance to everyone. You may already have a more or less clear picture in your head of how the employee should ideally look and where should they come from, which makes you subconsciously play down the candidates who don’t exactly fit into this mental blueprint – be it their background, experience or approach to your company’s ideas. Give everyone an equal space to present their skills, and maybe you’ll be surprised by the person who’ll end up sitting in that chair.

Utilize the tools. Remember what I said about using proven tools instead of your gut feeling and the color of the candidate’s chakra? Good. Because I meant every word I said. Together with your HR, put together a set of behavioral questions, work and out-of-work situation simulations, go through the references and maybe run some background checks. Dive into it and get to really know the candidates’ professional views, prospects, and history the reliable, old-fashioned way.

Don’t panic. This is seemingly a beginner’s mistake, but I’ll still give it its space. When the numbers are low and the pressure goes up, people tend to act hastily and make decisions that may not be fully thought-through. Hiring a new guy may be a sufficient immediate solution to workforce shortage, but not making sure he’s the right (let alone the best) one can backfire in the days to come.

Don’t get too charmed. This is a tricky one. People who’ve done a lot of interviews will also know their way around them. If someone is too much of a dream, telling you all the things you want to hear, don’t fall in love immediately. Take a step back and make sure that every word they say can also be underset with some solid evidence of their past working experience. I’m not telling you to be paranoid; just stay on your toes and ask for results, instead of just big talk.

Keeping it cool and concentrating on the hiring process is something you should make the time for. If done correctly, keeping away from rushed decisions and trying to avoid the mistakes listed above may become your greatest strength. Hiring the wrong person is much easier than firing them and executing the damage control during the aftermath. We want to avoid that for the sake of everyone involved, right?

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