The first time I interviewed for a job at a dealership, I was laughed out of the store. It was an Isuzu dealer in Schaumburg Illinois. A portly, mustachioed sales manager with a cane and a chip on his shoulder asked me in a typically-heavy Chicago accent, “What you know ‘bout da car business?” (said like it read).
Coming from the beer, wine, and spirit industry, I explained to him my understanding of selling by way of emphasizing the feature and benefit of the product. How selling is a process with multiple contact steps. How likability and persistence works hand in hand. How building rapport and finding commonality led to increased profits and long-term partnerships. He chuckled arrogantly (at me, not with me), and proceeded to rant about how his dealership was “the majors”, and I was destined for “A ball” (A professional vs. minor league baseball reference. Looking back, he threw out a lot of sports analogies). That was the only question he really asked of me. After being shown the door, I walked across the street and was hired on the spot by a Toyota dealer. The rest is history.
I’ve written countless blogs about how to recruit, interview, hire and orientate salespeople and BDC teams. It’s taken me long enough to realize building a quality team is a specialty of mine. I’ve made comedic videos about bad interviews, poor interviewing questions, lousy orientations, and more. At DealerKnows, we provide clients a slew of proven interview questions to utilize when meeting with potential hires that will help them better ascertain the quality of the candidates. Heck, I’ve even spoken on behalf of FCA at their GoTo Market meetings on the topic. However, times are changing and even interviewing is evolving.
The best interview questions no longer surround the dissection of a candidate’s work history vs. accomplishments vs. goals vs. drive. If today’s sales professionals are being asked to embrace technology as a means to improve the customer experience, then we must understand their own behavior and social preferences. Progressive dealers are utilizing their personnel as a differentiator in their advertising, so recognizing that everyone has a story worthy of being told can contribute to new marketing content.
Dealerships are made up of unique individuals with their own connections, outlooks, and sphere of influence. Dealers who realize the value in leveraging employees’ digital acumen and supporting their quest to build their own online book of business, are leading the way for a new form of marketing. To begin, though, some interview questions must evolve.
Here are a few new Interview Questions for Today’s Salespeople (in addition to those you’re currently asking):
- How do you shop for things you want to buy or places to eat?
- Do you take online reviews/ratings into consideration and have you left any for a business? (When and why?)
- Would you say you have skills as a storyteller? Can you give me an example?
- What is your daily social routine? (Which sites/networks do you frequent? How often? What time of the day? Why do you prefer that site?)
- Can you tell me of a post/image you created and shared socially that had a really good response, and why do you think it connected to your audience?
- Can you tell me of a digital campaign you followed and why you think it worked (works)?
- Where do you think the industry will be in 5 years and how will technology affect that?
- What does the word “transparency” mean to you and can you tell me your industry thoughts on the topic?
- How might you decide you trust someone based upon how you communicate with them online? What steps were used when building that trust?
- If you had your own advertising budget to promote yourself, how would you go about spending it?
As individuals leverage their social channels to promote themselves, the brand of the dealership they serve grows. Asking more socially-themed interview questions will show you if they have the skills to identify how best to engage an audience. If they can’t influence their own friends in these manners, how can you expect them to participate from a marketing front? If they don’t approach online research and shopping the same way your customers do, will they have the empathy needed to serve your guests? Would they even deserve access to leads or calls? Quite possibly, you find a diamond in the rough that you can employ to help connect with more shoppers. People with the gift of gab are often socially influential online. Asking the proper interview questions helps identify who is worthy of working in your store.