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Real Estate Manager's Guide for Interviewing Sales Agents
If you are like most Real Estate Managers and Brokers you have probably not had much instruction and very little direction about how to interview someone for a sales job with your company. Truth be told, you are not alone.
Very few real estate companies have an H.R. department so the challenge of recruiting, interviewing and selecting good people ends up as a task, that has to find a place in the line of many other demands, on a manager's list of “things to do”. Taking the time to prepare and having a "track" to follow will help you meet the challenge and make better hiring decisions.
Follow the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared
If someone happens to call or arrive at your office and inquire about a position, does your receptionist or duty agent know how to handle the inquiry? If you are not readily available or unable to meet the person do you have an application or some type of a pre-screening form that they can fill out?
Certainly you want to capture their contact information, and by adding a few simple questions, you should be able to gather enough information to know if you want to pursue the prospect and set up an appointment. Consider asking
- Are you currently licensed?
- If not licensed, when would you expect to complete your license training?
- Are you interested in a Full Time or Part Time Position?
- In a brief paragraph explain what is it that attracts you to real estate?
Another step to take, in being prepared, is to be sure you have all the information you need to conduct an interview at for finger tips. We suggest you create a file folder for each anticipated interview and include in the folder information and various forms that you might use. These could include:
- Forms required to transfer existing license
- Company Brochure or Value Package Description
- Pro.file (Assessment Evaluation)
- Application for License Exam
The third step to take in getting ready is to prepare a list of questions you want to ask. Some questions need to be answered by a simple yes or no. These are what we refer to as the qualifiers. Other questions are open ended and require some explanation. In both cases you will want to think about what you want to ask and write the questions out so you have a script to follow. Later in the Interview "track" you will see how these questions are used, so let's add some definition to what you need to create.
"Can Do" Qualifiers. - These are Red Light / Green Light requirements for the job. In other words, if the question you ask can not be answered with a “Yes”, it is a red light and the interview is terminated.
"Will Do" Expectations. - This is a list, that is activity based, and defines what you know is required to be successful in the position. Once you explain what is required, then you seek agreement.
Finally, let’s talk about setting the stage for the interview. Here are two things that can really help. First, eliminate the barriers for communication. A desk, where you normally set and do your work is a barrier. Get out from behind it and set up the interview in an environment that helps you get the information you need to make the right selection decision. A round table, or having the candidate set in favor of your writing hand at a rectangular setting will work much better. Second, make every effort to make sure you will not be interrupted. Ask that your calls be held and do your best to give your full attention to the interview process.
There are some “rules” that everyone needs to follow whenever you enter into an interview. If you have questions regarding what you can and can’t ask in an interview then please take the time to review the guidelines established by the government at http://www.eeoc.gov/
Basically you can’t discriminate for a number of reasons, but your goal during the interview process is to determine if the person you are meeting has what it takes to succeed in your business. So you want to ask questions that will help you discriminate, it’s just that you need to know what is not allowed.
As an example, we know that real estate sales people who are successful are organized, independent and willing to take moderate risks to achieve the goals they set for themselves. Questions that help you determine how the person you are interviewing measures up to that standard will provide insight as to how they will perform if you hire them. You might structure a few questions like this to gain that perspective:
“Are you a goal orientated person”? (Left alone, unless the answer is NO, this question does not provide much insight)
Follow that first question with other questions that require some detail. Your job is to ask and listen.
“What has been your most significant achievement”?
“How did you overcome any obstacles in achieving that goal”?
“What goals have you set for yourself for the next five years"?
7 Step Track for Making a Hiring Decision
Step One - Set the Stage.
Make sure you have set up the interview properly; out from behind your desk and materials you need at hand.
Don’t rush into the discussion. See how the person you are interviewing will handle the initial greeting. We know that good sales people are quick to establish rapport so see what this person does; it can be a really good indicator of their character if they take the first step to find some common ground.
An exchange of information about background and previous experience at this point will help relax the setting and provide the opportunity for you to “get to know” a little about candidate.
When it is time to take control and proceed let the person know what you would like to accomplish with this interview. A brief description of what you intend to cover and how much time you expect to take will do what is required.
Step Two - Review your list of “Can Do” Qualifiers.
This is a list of things, reflective of the position, and must be answered with a “yes” by the candidate. These questions need to reflect your requirements and standards.
Some that are pretty basic and universal:
“Are you licensed”? (If no, then “When do you expect to be licensed”?)
“Do you have a car”?
“Are you able to work weekends?
Some that might reflect your standards:
“We have a sales meeting each Thursday, can you attend”?
“Our training for new agents is (defined) will you be able to commit”?
Step Three – Make a decision.
At this point, it’s time to determine if you have a candidate or not. If not, let them know and terminate the interview. If you have enough “green light” answers to your review of “Can Do” qualification questions, then tell them that they are a candidate and move forward.
Step Four - Company Sell.
Be prepared to sell the benefits of being part of your organization. If you have prepared material, a company brochure or Value Package this is the time to get it out and review.
Company History, Support, Training and Marketing programs are certainly a few of the things you want to be able to discuss. Make sure you allow for questions and if you have people in supporting roles don’t hesitate to introduce them during this process.
Step Five – Probe for Greater Insight.
Let the person know that you want to make the right decision, for both of your benefits. Ask them how they feel about the interview at this point.
If you use an assessment instrument like the Potential Performance Pro.file, this is the time to administer it and have the candidate complete it. Some instruments need to be sent out for scoring and if that is the case then a follow up appointment should be set. The Pro.file is administered and scored in house, so you can determine if you want to set a second appointment or continue with the interview once you have completed the process.
If you choose not to use an assessment tool then this is where you would review the list of questions you have prepared, to gain additional insight into the background and characteristics of the candidate to determine if they have what it takes to be successful.
Step Six - Tell Them.
If you feel this person is a fit, then tell them. Let them know that you are prepared to offer them a position. If they do not fit, then it is time to terminate the interview.
Assuming you have a candidate, what you want to do now is move quickly to Step 7, which will introduce your list of “Will Do” expectations.
Step Seven - Review the “Will Do” list of expectations.
The key to managing sales people is based on having a clear and agreed upon plan of action. It is difficult to manage results, but it is fairly easy to manage the activity that produces the result.
In your business, based on the experience you have had or observed, you know that it will take so many calls to produce an appointment and it will take so many appointments to produce a sale.
Creating a list of “Will Do” expectations is just that; reducing the result ( a listing or sale) into a fairly well defined prospecting strategy.
At this point in the interview process what you want to be able to do is provide a plan that the newly hired agent will agree to follow. By detailing the steps in the plan you are able to define what you know it will take in terms of time and effort to be successful. By seeking agreement from the candidate about their willingness to do what it takes, you are gaining their consent for you to manage them.
Selecting people who have the capacity to succeed in your business takes some effort but learning to do it well pays big dividends. Be prepared, have a plan and follow these Seven Steps for making successful hiring decisions.