When hiring top account executives, there is an essential tool I always leverage: the chronological interview. When done right, this approach acts like a truth serum.
The key focus is the candidate’s resume and his or her specific background. It’s critical to walk through their relevant work experience chronologically as it’s the best way to surface and understand themes across their various opportunities.
To draw these out effectively, here are the specific interview questions I like to ask sales executive candidates about each relevant step in their career. My advice for you is to be consistent, use some finesse, and give it a try.
1. Can you describe to me your current/former role, your responsibilities, and how success is/was measured?
With this question, I’m trying to get a sense for how succinctly and clearly the candidate can describe his or her responsibilities. Additionally, for a sales role, how success is measured should be pretty straightforward and it’s a red flag when the success metric is murky.
2. What is your proudest accomplishment?
This is an alignment question and tests whether the candidate’s proudest accomplishment is tied to the first question around role, responsibilities, and success.
3. Knowing what you know now, walk me through what you would do differently to drive even more success?
This interview question tests the sales executive candidate’s self-awareness and coachability.
4. If I were to call your current/former VP, how would he or she describe what you’re doing well and the areas that you’re improving?
Another coachability and self-awareness question. Additionally, this helps me understand how the candidate was previously coached, as well as whether he or she was receiving feedback.
5. Let’s turn this around: Thinking about your current/former VP, what do you appreciate about his or her leadership style? What do they do well and what would you prefer that they do differently?
This helps me understand the type of leader that the candidate prefers to work with.
6. What inspired you to move to the next opportunity?
“It’s critical to walk through their relevant work experience chronologically as it’s the best way to surface and understand themes across their various opportunities.”