Mishires are expensive. In a recent survey of sales leaders, 52% said that an AE mishire costs their company more than $100K. But the impact of hiring mistakes goes far beyond the budget. A bad hire affects an org’s ability to meet sales goals, damages morale, and wastes valuable team resources. Too many mishires can cause a company’s reputation to suffer, leading to additional hiring mistakes down the road.
The good news, however, is that a few improvements to your hiring process can go a long way in avoiding common AE hiring mistakes.
1. Improve your interviews with consistency, collaboration, and training
Senior leaders should work with hiring managers to develop an interview process that relies on evidence-based assessments that consider role requirements and past success. Develop guides for each interviewer with sample questions and which key competencies they are assessing for. Once you have that consistency, you can train interviewers to dig deep and increase their own ability to identify the traits that matter.
Cross-team collaboration is essential throughout the interview process. Many people participate in each interview cycle, but often a participant walks away from an individual interview session and offers their feedback in a vacuum. While this can help avoid groupthink, it’s important to add an opportunity for collaboration after each session. One proven method to encourage this is to require interviewers to provide detailed notes; a simpler approach is to record each interview using an interview intelligence platform so it’s easy to share and triangulate interview data.
At high-growth companies, interviewers are often thrown into interviews without proper preparation. Given this scenario, it’s not surprising that many interviewers lack confidence in their interviewing abilities. It’s important to brief each interview team on the role, their part in the hiring process, and the questions and skills they need to evaluate in candidates. If they’re new to interviewing, collaborate with your talent acquisition team to formalize some training to help them refine their skills. Ideally, these training sessions should include interview recordings from top interviewers to serve as an example of what “great” looks like.
2. Don’t over-index on industry experience
Industry experience helps a candidate’s resume stand out and gets them in the door, but that should only be one part of evaluating someone for an AE role. Intangibles like grit, curiosity, and adaptability are important traits that many sales leaders look for to predict AE success.
One way to identify these characteristics is by including behavioral interview questions in the hiring process. In other words, look past what someone has done, and get a closer look at how and why they did it. These questions uncover great insights about which environments the candidate thrives in, and if their decisions exhibit the intangible qualities your sales org is looking for.
It’s also important to be transparent about what the role actually requires, and what it will look like down the road. This helps interviewers center conversations around specifics and thoroughly assess a candidate, rather than focusing too much on past experience that doesn’t actually align with the role they’re interviewing for.
3. Build your bench
Kimberly Miller, Senior Director of Sales at LinkedIn, said it best, “You hire the best when you’re proactive, not reactive, meaning you’re building a relationship with a candidate and you’re measuring their skillset more casually outside of a formal interview.”
Hiring managers on Kim’s team are constantly building their bench and sourcing candidates. Once it’s time to hire, the manager’s knowledge of a candidate isn’t limited to a couple of hours in a formal interview setting.
Beyond increasing the quality of the relationship with a candidate, not having to start from scratch for each open role conserves precious time and gives your company a competitive hiring advantage.
Dive into the data
One effective way to avoid AE mishires is to study the hiring practices of other successful companies. And while one-off conversations with LinkedIn connections can be enlightening, our 2022 State of Sales Hiring Report collects interesting insights from dozens of top sales leaders in one skim-friendly resource. It’s a fantastic tool for determining how your org’s hiring practices stack up, and where there might be some room for improvement.