As hiring managers, one of our goals should be to become an expert at interviewing candidates. This is not easy, and it doesn’t come naturally to people conducting interviews.
In fact, if you think you’re a “natural” at conducting interviews, I would venture to guess this is one of your blind spots. The skillful interviewers I’ve observed have worked at developing and honing this craft over a long period of time. They’re humble. They’re constantly learning. They fight against the natural tendencies leading them astray.
We frequently discuss interviewing in WorkPuzzle because it’s a broad topic and learning to be proficient must be approached from many different angles.
Today’s angle is anticipation and preparation.
Skillful hiring managers anticipate what’s going to happen based on clues in the conversation. At the right time, they express thoughtful points of view prepared and practiced long before the interview.
For example, most new-to-real estate candidates struggle with the idea of giving up a traditional job (salary, benefits, perceived security, etc.) and working independently. Starting their own businesses can seem uncomfortable, risky, and unwise.
Overcoming this mental obstacle is a prerequisite to becoming an agent.
A skillful interviewer will ask questions during the interview to uncover the emotion behind this concern and then be prepared to objectively address the issue.
For this topic, we might want to reference some of the research Forbes magazine recently compiled on why individuals choose to start businesses. There are 16 “amazing facts” in this article. Here are my four favorites:
Lots of People Own Small Businesses. There are almost 28 million small businesses in the US and over 22 million are self-employed with no additional payroll or employees (most real estate agents would fit this category).
Many People Work in Small Businesses. Over 50% of the working population (120 million individuals) works in a small business.
Over 500,000 new businesses get started each month. By contrast, the “new jobs” added to the economy by traditional employers are typically half this number. It may be a crazy thing to do, but a lot of people are starting businesses!
Most businesses don’t have employees. Approximately 75% of all U.S. businesses (small or otherwise) are nonemployer businesses. This is how most real estate agents function. Nonemployer businesses generate just under $1 trillion in revenue each year.
Ineffective interviewers (those who are “naturals” and do interviews off the cuff) will typically make two types of mistakes:
Miss the verbal cues that illuminate the objection. If we’re asking lots of open-ended questions and listening carefully, clues about a candidate’s unique concerns emerge. If the interviewer is doing most of the talking, the candidate’s anxieties remain unaddressed.
Address objections from their own experience. If we don’t anticipate common objections and prepare beforehand, we tend to address objections from our own experiences. This is a hit-and-miss approach that rarely works out well.
For example, a candidate could express concern about the risk of starting a business and I say, “When I got out of college I went to work for a big corporation and it was miserable. I stepped out on my own and things worked out great.” So, what if the candidate didn’t go to college, never worked for a big corporation and has a close friend who was part of a failed start-up company? Your own experience means nothing to this candidate.
This is just one example, but the principle applies to all the common issues and objections you hear during interviews. Listen to the candidates’ stories. Anticipate the common objections. Prepare responses beforehand that are objective and thoughtful.