10 Interview Questions to Recruit Your Social Selling Team

By now, you have probably heard that salespeople who use social media are more likely to make their quota.

But how in the world do you find team members who are great at social selling? I mean, social selling is a relatively new sales technique. It’s not like you can find job candidates who have MBAs in Social Selling.

To find the right candidates for your program, you have to ask the right questions. Below, you’ll find 10 questions that will help you ascertain whether a candidate would be good for your team.

Your Approach to Interviews

I used to tutor foreign graduate students. Many of them were engineers who decided to use their math skills as management consultants. As part of my tutoring position, I helped them practice their English in professional settings, mainly interviews.

Consulting interviews revolve around case-style questions. The interviewer asks the interviewee a question about a hypothetical business situation, and the interviewee shows how he or she would react in the imaginary situation. Personally, I like this type of question. The answers are more telling than the canned responses that typical interview questions spark.

Below, you’ll find a few questions that you can use to interview candidates for social selling programs. As I mentioned in Tuesday’s blog, there are many roles that you need for your social selling team. This post will focus on two of them: the salespeople and the project managers.

Be warned: If you have a 30-minute interview, you probably won’t have time to get through all of the questions below. So, pick two or three of your favorite ones for each interviewee.

Interviewing for the Social Seller position

Question 1: Sales experience

The question: Walk me through your typical day as a salesperson.

What to look for: This question serves two purposes.

First, it tells you how the job candidate engages with customers and how the interviewee prospects. Do they use social media? Do they do cold calls?

Second, it tells you something about the candidate’s personality. For example, you know that someone is methodical and detail-oriented if the candidate says, “At 8am every day, I share content with my prospects on LinkedIn. At 8:30am every day, I…”

Other people might not be as methodical, but they might tell a great story. If someone can hold your interest as they list their mundane daily tasks, they have a certain charisma, which you may or may not want on your sales team.

Question 2: Leveraging marketing assets

The question: Imagine that you work for a new company that sells CRM software. It’s the hip, new Salesforce, and this hip, new Salesforce has a library of marketing assets. Which of the following assets would you send to someone who has requested a demo on our site? Why?

  • An e-book on the secret best practices of successful salespeople.
  • An e-book on the key metrics that sales leaders should be tracking in their CRMs.
  • A one-pager on your company’s value propositions and key competitive differentiators.
  • A case study that describes all the cool things our customers do with our CRM.
  • A video recording of a demo showing how our CRM works.

What to look for: You are checking to see if the salesperson understands content marketing, and you are checking to see if the salesperson can map content to the buying stages.

When someone requests a live demo of a product, they are pretty far down the sales funnel. At this point in the buyer’s journey, fun, educational content may not be what the buyer wants.

So, if the interviewee chooses the e-book about best practices for successful salespeople, you have just identified the job candidate’s weakness. The candidate lacks insight into the buyer’s journey. You could still hire the person, but you will have some teaching to do.

Follow-up question: When would you use the other assets in our content library?

Question 3: Where are your buyers?

The question: Let’s pretend that our marketing team has convincing data that shows that none of our potential customers use social media. Should our sales team be active on LinkedIn and Twitter? Why or why not? (Source: HubSpot)

What to look for: Is the person thinking about the here and now? Or is the person thinking about the future? Your customers may not be on social media now, but they will be there in the future.

Question 4: Rapport building

The question: Let’s imagine that we are working for the CRM company – the hip, new version of Salesforce that we discussed earlier. And a VP of Sales from a Fortune 500 company sends you a LinkedIn connection request. This Fortune 500 company is on your customer wish list. You want to sell to them. What are your next steps for interacting with the VP of Sales?

What to look for: You need to see what the candidate’s strategy is. Does the person go in for the hard sell right away? Or does your future sales team member try to build trust and rapport?

Usually, it is best to listen, find out more about the person, build trust, and then, work the sale.

Question 5: Tricky situations

The question: You are a member of a LinkedIn group with over 15,000 members, and you notice that someone is bashing your company. What would you do?

What to look for: If your sales team is on social media, chances are good that they will encounter some disgruntled people. Are they going to feed the internet trolls? Will they shirk responsibility by notifying your social media marketing team of the situation?

Before you ask this question, decide how you would want someone to answer this question. There isn’t a right or wrong way.

Interviewing for the Project Manager position

Question 6: Managing executive sponsors

The question: Your VP of Sales is the executive sponsor for your social selling program. She is supposed to set an example by being active on Twitter and LinkedIn. However, she has not written a tweet in three months. What would you do?

What to look for: How do your future project managers “manage up”? That is, how do the candidates manage employees who are more senior? The candidates’ answers will be indicative of their communication style and their conflict resolution techniques.

Fun tip: You can turn this into a role playing scenario. You can be the VP of Sales, and the job candidate can be the project manager. See how the interviewee reacts in real time.

Question 7: Creating a vision and a plan

The question: Let’s say that we hire you, and your first task is to launch a six-month pilot program for social selling. Take a few minutes to outline your project roadmap for launching this program.

Follow-Up Questions:

  • How would you decide which salespeople would be included in the pilot?
  • How would you reward the salespeople for participating in the pilot?
  • How would you go about communicating your plan to the salespeople?
  • How would you go about training the salespeople?
  • How would you use data to gain insights and improve your program?
  • It is important to set expectations for both the executive team and for your sales team. What do you believe are realistic outcomes for your six-month pilot? How would you measure success?

What to look for: You can’t expect the answer to be perfect. Roadmaps take time to build, and unless the candidate has access to a whiteboard, it might be hard to think through all the steps on the fly.

Ultimately, this question indicates whether the job candidate knows where to start. Has he thought through all the required steps? And does she have realistic expectations for a six-month pilot? If someone says that the sales team will quintuple its quarterly bookings in six months, you might want to think twice before hiring that person.

Question 8: Social media policy

The question: Imagine that you join our company, and you find out that we don’t have a company-wide social media policy. You decide to take it upon yourself to write one. What would you include in it?

What to look for: Indirectly, this is a way of gauging the candidate’s fit for your company. If your company values freedom and responsibility, you shouldn’t hire someone who is going to write a social media policy with 75 dos and don’ts.

If you don’t know what a social media policy should look like, consult this blog post.

Question 9: Uh oh!

The question: You sign into Twitter at midnight, and you notice that one of your salespeople is very active on social media. At first, you’re happy to see this. But then, you dig a little deeper. It turns out that Mr. Social enjoys using expletives and posting images of himself getting drunk on weekends. How do you manage this situation?

What to look for: Indirectly, this is a way of gauging the candidate’s fit for your company. If your company values freedom and responsibility, you shouldn’t hire someone who is going to write a social media policy with 75 dos and don’ts.

Question 10: Dealing with problematic employees

The question: Let’s do a role playing exercise. One of your employees spends his entire day on LinkedIn. He’s always writing status updates. He’s always answering questions in LinkedIn groups. He has over 2,000 LinkedIn connections. He says that he is social selling. But it’s December. He has been working for your company since June, and he hasn’t brought in a single deal all year.

I’m going to be the LinkedIn-addicted employee, and you’ll be my manager. Talk to me about my performance.

What to look for: Look for someone who can set clear expectations with employees, and look for someone who can explain social media best practices. Does someone really need to be on LinkedIn all day in order to be effective?

Next Steps

By now, you should have a flavor for the types of questions you should ask job candidates. Your next step is to take these examples and create your own. Make sure they reflect your industry and hiring needs.

Good luck!


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