Building Your Team: Top 10 Interviewing Tips

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Hiring great talent is at the top of every brokerage’s list. Here’s how to interview agents to find out if they’re good for your team.

The first step in building a great team is hiring the right talent. Clearly, the interview process is a key component. Here are 10 tips in interviewing.

  1. Hire to Vision. Hire for the vision you want your organization to become. Also, hire to the interviewee’s vision. What are they trying to accomplish and how is your company positioned to help them achieve their goals?
  2. Stop Selling! Don’t be so focused on selling your brand, technology, marketing, etc., that you fail to interview them. Instead, provide interviewees with a package of information on your company in advance that will answer many of their questions. For the top producers you’re recruiting, ask them what their greatest challenges are in their business and then offer solutions. Stop selling and start solving. The interview should be about them.
  3. Look for losers. In my 45 years leading a sales organization, I’ve learned that spotting the winners is difficult. Salespeople come in all shapes and sizes. Many surprise me. I’ve found it’s easier to spot the losers and make sure I don’t hire them. The next few tips will help you eliminate the losers and give the rest a chance. Put those who meet the following criteria into your sales system and see how they do.
  4. Character. Did they show up on time? This is a sign of their ability to keep their promises. Are they dressed for the interview? Are they likable? Would I be proud to introduce them to a key client? Would I trust them with the keys to my car and my house? (Note: Our sellers will be trusting them with the keys to their houses.)
  5. Commitment. Do they have a commitment to a work ethic? “What was your first job for pay?” is a key question. Research shows that young people who had a job for pay by the time they were 14 have a much stronger work ethic. Explore their various jobs and hours worked to determine their commitment to a work ethic.
  6. Capacity. Do they have the capacity to work full time? The failure rate in the first two years for new real estate sales associates runs close to 90 percent. A big reason is their inability or unwillingness to work full time. Our experience is that they’ll need to work 60 to 80 hours a week for their first year to make it in this career.
  7. Coachability. Are they coachable? Our industry attracts people who don’t respect the hard work and commitment it takes to be successful. They think what we do is easy, and they won’t have to do the work. One way to test their coachability is to give them an assignment to bring to the interview. Our favorite is to ask them to bring their database. If they show up without it, we learn two things. First, they have a character issue. They don’t keep their commitments. Second, they have a coachability issue. They won’t follow instructions. If they have character, commitment, capacity, and are eager to let us show them the way, they’ll usually make it.
  8. Culture. Will they fit into our team? Is their focus we or me? In his book, The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni says his research shows the best team players are humble, hungry, and smart. We’ve found these three characteristics to be important in building a high-performance culture.
  9. Three Accelerators. New people get a faster start in our business if they have one or more of the following accelerators: They have previous sales experience; they have previous real estate–related experience (mortgage, title, builder); and, they have a large network of people who know, like, and trust them—and the interviewee is willing to access this network. Look for these three accelerators.
  10. The Informal Interview. Interviewees can sometimes fool you in the one-hour interview. Have them meet with your marketing or technology people to “see the resources available to you.” Tip-off your marketing and tech people to watch for the signs listed above, especially coachability. Does it look like the interviewee will embrace your marketing and tech solutions, or do they think they don’t need it? Are they humble, hungry and smart? This informal interview can be very revealing.

By following the 10 tips in this interview template, you’ll hire the talent that fits your culture. That’s a great start. The next step is turning this talent into performance which is the primary responsibility of managers. To turn talent into performance, managers should use one of the proven sales systems available in our industry—and build a great team.

Larry Kendall is the author of Ninja Selling and chairman emeritus of The Group, Inc.

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter. It is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends, Inc. Copyright © 2019.
To read the rest of this issue & more, please visit our Real Trends page online.


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