Modernization Comes to the Hiring Process

I have spent much of my career hiring people. As a sales manager, I wrote ads, screened applicants, conducted interviews and checked references. More often than not, I hate to admit, I made bad hiring decisions. There are some hires I made, though, that I am very proud—even to this day.

It used to be a pretty simple process. Place an ad in the Chicago Reader, a paper that was read by tens of thousands of young people living in the city. Sift through the dozens of resumes that came in, pick several of the best and interview those candidates. Then, pick the best of the best and hire that person. Finally, cross your fingers and hope for the best.

If I were a sales manager today, the process I used would be NOTHING like that one. And here is why this topic even occurred to me…I have a dear friend who is in the midst of an intensive job search. She has interviewed with many high-profile companies, the likes of Groupon, and has described some of their hiring practices to me. They are Intense, with a capital “I.”

Today she is having her SIXTH interview with most recent job she is going after. She has had phone interviews, interviews via Skype, group interviews—and, today, she will spend a minimum of four hours defending her resume line by line. I was stunned.

But here’s what started to dawn on me. Companies, in some ways, have gotten a lot smarter. They fully understand how much a new hire costs them and, more importantly, how costly a BAD new hire is. So they want to be sure. REALLY sure.

I have been contracted by companies coast to coast to help them find good sales people. Because almost every owner of every print shop I know, at one time or another, has lamented about how hard it is to find a great sales person today. And they are right.

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

Related Content
  • Paul Gardner

    You got me curious when you said the process you would use today would look NOTHING like the one you used in the past.

    Be picky. Be careful. Be sure.

    All good thoughts, but precisely WHAT would you do differently?

    Weren’t you always careful, and picky?

    Didn’t you always check references?

    Didn’t you always advertise in the most productive or cost effective places?

    Didn’t you always involve others in the process?

    Didn’t you always try to be sure you were making the best decision?

    I haven’t hired anyone in three or four years, but all of this was standard practice back then.

    What’s changed?

  • Print King

    Six interviews and defending her resume line by line???? Hope that job pays $500,000 salary before bonuses.

  • Kevin Evans

    I am in Agreement with Paul. Hiring a salesperson would always be one of those positions that would get the up most scrutiny at any time. In a lot of ways it would almost be like finding a husband, wife, or life partner. They can be some of the biggest decisions investments a printing company can make. They can change a companies trajectory both ways, very quickly. Be careful is right!

  • Kelly Mallozzi

    Hi Paul
    Thanks for the very thorough response! I think what I would do differently today is take my time a little more and listen to my gut a little more. Maybe I am alone, but there were people I hired after one interview, and today I think getting more creative about the steps in the process would really pay off. For example, I think today I would give a candidate a scenario ahead of time and ask them to prepare a 15 minute presentation to a fictional client. Or, I would give them the name of a company and ask them to do research on the company, an executive summary if you will, to see how well they understand that process. And again I’ll state I would be much more rigorous about references, income expectations, and a long term training plan. There are even some companies that have a 90 day scorecard and if you haven’t hit the benchmarks – you’re out. Hmmmmm;.

  • Steve Counts

    I recommend Peter Ebner’s material. Best advice get them on the phone first day.

    If they cannot make appointments …..

  • Mike Guberman

    No disrespect intended but your approach is amateurish at best. Hiring is not a mysterious black box. Rather, with basic business applications you could reduce errors considerably. The problem is more often lack of patience with the process. Here is how: 1. Know your own culture and insure that your interview process eliminates those who do not fit. 2. Do not hire people who have limited experience opening new accounts or whose track record for new account development is in decline. 3. Hire only very smart people 4. Hire people who have class and a high ego drive to succeed. 4. Understand the behaviors of successful sales people and learn how to interview to identify those behaviors. 5. Hire people who’s past experience and behaviors have demonstrated ability to penetrate beyond the surface of prospects and other cultures.
    In my opinion the biggest problem is finding appropriate candidates. This should be part of your corporate culture and the search for talent should be on going by all senior level employees.