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5 Small Shifts That Will Enhance Your Next Interview – Sandler Training

Sandler Training



Written by Hamish Knox; President of Sandler in Calgary, Canada

Creating accountable, sales focused organizations in Calgary



An interview is a leader’s version of a sales call. Typically, though leaders get less practise at interviewing than their salespeople do making sales calls, which means they sometimes get “smoked” by their candidate.

You’ve probably got a solid interview process locked down already; however, making these four small shifts will enhance the experience for you and your candidate in your next interview.

  1. Shift your mindset from “sell” to “sort” –as my colleague, Mike Crandall says, “professionals sort. Amateurs sell.” Depending on your level of desperation to fill your vacant role, which prompts you to adopt a “gotta get someone in that chair” mindset,” you’ll be more focused on selling the benefits of working for you and your business than than sorting out if this candidate is the right fit for your role. A “sort” mindset prompts you to ask more questions and clarify ambiguous statements like “I love prospecting.”


  1. Shift your body –interviews are often conducted across a table, which creates a barrier and a combative, head-to-head environment. By the time you get to an in-person interview you’re probably confident that this candidate could be the right fit for your open role. Shifting your body to the same side of the table creates an environment of “us” instead of “you and me,’ which puts your candidate at ease as long as you respect their personal space. Another benefit of shifting your body to the same side of the table is you can better see your candidates legs, which, according to former FBI profiler, Joe Navarro, are the best body language indicator of your candidate’s level of comfort (just don’t stare, that’s creepy).


  1. Shift the environment –an interview is a high anxiety environment for a candidate because they are (not necessarily literally) standing alone against their interviewer who holds the power in that setting. Our brains still carry wiring from way back when humans first developed and back then being alone usually meant you died. Group interviews cause even more anxiety because your candidate is literally out numbered. Just like salespeople can use an Up Front Contract to take away their prospect’s anxiety about what will happen in a sales call using an Up Front Contract with your candidate will shift the environment of your interview to a conversation between two equals.


  1. Shift your pre-interview planning – I ran an exercise called “cost of a bad hire” with a room of 50 business leaders recently. The average cost of hiring a bad fit employee in that room ranged from $10,000 to $400,000. In another workshop the cost of a bad hire was $2.1 million for one  Yet when asked about the time they invest in planning for an interview most leaders will say, “yes we do.” Shift your pre-interview planning to include more than the time it takes to walk to the interview room and write down both the questions you need to ask as well as the questions you expect your candidate to ask you. If you look or sound stumped by one of their questions your credibility is shot.


  1. Shift your candidate’s mindset – human beings are either open minded or close minded to whatever you want them to see, think or do. Just because you shift the environment to a conversation among equals doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to ask your candidate tough or direct questions. It means you need to open up their mind to that concept, when setting your Up Front Contract at the start of the meeting. May sound like, “Hamish, as we go through this interview I may need to ask you a few tough, direct questions to determine if you’re a good fit for this role. Are you okay with that?” Giving your candidate the option to buy-in to you asking tough questions opens their mind up so when you do ask a tough question, usually prefaced with, “may I ask you one of those tough questions I mentioned earlier?” your candidate responds instead of reacting.


Shifting your interviews to a pre-planned, process oriented conversation among equals takes practice, but you’ll discover that you waste less time with unqualified candidates and burn less mental and emotional energy during the interview.

Until next time… go lead.


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