How to Interview for Hunters

When I started working in staffing, I interviewed thirty to forty people a day. I did this for almost five years. After a while, I could tell within minutes if a candidate was going to show up to work, whether or not they would succeed, or if they would accept a job and not show up at all. My intuition became very highly tuned.

Hiring salespeople turned out to be more difficult. Some of my “sure bets” turned out to be duds. The worst performer I ever hired had the highest score on a fancy hiring assessment. Some I took chances on turned out to be stars. Some of the best resumes with the best pedigrees did terribly, and some hires with little to no experience crushed it. Many of the people I hired would have done incredible things if they would have worked as hard to win business and they did to win the job.

Over time, I learned a very easy way to tell a hunter from the rest of the pack. I simply asked them to role play a cold call with me. I would say, “Okay, role play a cold call with me, I answer the phone and say, ‘Hello, it’s Anthony Iannarino.” The response is a clue as to whether or not the person is a hunter.

Non-hunters will intellectualize the answer. They’ll describe a cold call to you. They’ll say, “Well, first I would research you to see what I could learn about your personally . . . then I’d probably connect with you on LinkedIn . . .” There is nothing wrong with doing your homework. You should look up your prospects on LinkedIn, and you should connect with them.

Or they say, “When I make a cold call, what I want to do is . . . “ Most salespeople know what they should do before they make calls, even if they overdo it on the research and emails they believe “warm up” the prospect. It’s not the knowledge of how to pick up the phone and book an appointment that worries me; it’s the unwillingness.

When you start a role play in an interview with a hunter, they say, “Good morning, this is . . . I am calling you today . . .” This is one way to know that the person sitting in front of you is a hunter. It doesn’t mean that you should automatically hire them, but it does give you faith that they have the confidence to prospect, and that they aren’t likely to be opportunity-starved while working for you.

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