by Chad Bronstein, Time to Hire owner

I was in rough financial shape after the tech crash of 2001.

I answered an advertisement in the newspaper that read “Make $100,000, Call 858-555-1212”.  A pleasant young woman offered several interview times and provided directions to their office.  I don’t remember asking a lot of questions about the job and I might have not even known what I’d be doing.

I arrived at the “interview” later that week, wearing my best suit. The receptionist led me into a conference room, where I found four other candidates. “Uh… are you guys here for the interview?” I asked. “What the [expletive] is going on here?” I said to myself.  Was I to compete against these other fellows?

Sales People Sitting

It turned out the interview was for health insurance sales. Yuck, right? Since I had taken the time to drive down there, I figured that I might as well stay and hear them out.

Interviewing salespeople in a group can have number of benefits for employers. First, it makes you a lot more efficient. Since many of your prospective sales reps may not be a good fit, does it make sense to interview them one on one? Second, group interviewing salespeople creates a competitive atmosphere, making your position more desirable.

Over the years I’ve had many clients who were able to recruit salespeople using this tactic. Here is what I’ve learned about how to conduct a group interview from them.

Be an Impressive Sales Leader

To host a group hiring orientation requires the ability to speak with conviction about your company and its products. That person is usually the owner or hiring manager. If you need help in this area, consider a course with Dale Carnegie or The Sandler Sales Institute. Improve your public speaking abilities by joining Toastmasters.  To find top sales reps you’ll need to become the best sales leader in your own company.

Create a Welcoming and Professional Environment

First impressions are important when conducting a group interview.  Make sure there’s someone available to greet them and to help put them at ease.  If you don’t have a conference room available, rent one at a nearby hotel. While I’ve heard of people turning around and walking out, it’s actually not that common.  Leaving will seem awkward to candidates, and it’s easier to just stay and hear you out.

It’s an Orientation, Not an Interview

Explain to candidates that the first step in this process is an orientation. Tell them that during the orientation you’ll go over all the aspects of the job and what you will expect from them. Ask them to hold their questions until the end.

Be Passionate and Emotional

How does what you do make you feel? Zig Ziglar said “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” Showing passion and emotion excites people and makes them more interested. Your job when conducting a group interview is to sell them the opportunity without making it seem like you are selling them. This is the most difficult part to do well and takes the most practice. Make sure you don’t oversell it.

Highlight Any Non-Monetary Aspects of the Position

When I did insurance sales, there were many afternoons where I put down the phone and went surfing. Commission sales allows candidates to control their schedule and work from home. Further, the sales training and mentoring I received at that company was invaluable for my future success. Since candidates want to know about the money, save that for last.

Introduce A Top Sales Leader

There’s no better way to show success than to bring in your top salesperson. You should invite candidates to ask your top performer any questions they like. This will improve confidence in your opportunity and stimulate conversation while conducting the group interview.

Show Them The Money

For prospective sales reps, this is the main event. Show them exactly how your sales compensation structure works by writing it down on a whiteboard. Provide as many real world examples of success in your company as possible.


Don’t Oversell It

One of the easiest mistakes to make while conducting a group interview is overselling of the opportunity. To you, your product is easy to sell and allows you to enjoy an amazing lifestyle. Your prospective employee may be looking at your job through a different lens. Job seekers are bombarded by various employment scams on a daily basis. They’re on high alert.

If you oversell the job or come on too strong when interviewing salespeople, candidates may become less interested.

One way to balance your presentation may be to explain how difficult it will be. “Most people won’t be successful at this job. It takes a lot of guts and perseverance. Those that do often make well into six figures, but it’s not for everyone.”

Provide Brochures and Handouts During the Orientation

Providing a handout to your presentation allows the candidate to take notes and follow along. You will appear more professional and the handout will serve to reinforce what you’re saying.

Survey Your Candidates

Hand candidates a short, one-page survey at the end of the group interview. This is a great way to transition to the one-on-one interview. Create questions design to illicit a positive response and gauge the candidate’s interest level.

Example: “On a scale of one to ten, rate your interest level in this position.” or “I feel that I can be successful in this position.”

The survey provides two main functions. First, it gives you an instant gauge of the candidate interest level. Second, it helps to reinforce and sell the position to the candidate.

Invite Interested Sales Candidates to Interview One-On-One

Dale Carnegie helped us understand that people love to feel special or important. Offer to meet one-on-one with interested candidates at the end of the group interview. If you’re worried about time, know that interviewing salespeople does not need to take a lot of time. You can also recruit existing sales leaders to perform interviews to save time.

Make Them Feel at Home

If you’re interviewing at your office, take the time to show each candidate around the office. Introduce them to key people, especially any top performing salespeople. This step will help candidates visualize themselves working and being successful at your company.

Remember the Power Dynamic

As my wife likes to say, “Don’t be thirsty.” It’s important not to come off sounding desperate to hire. Remember that they need you more than you need them. If the candidate senses that you’re desperate, they may rethink working for you.


Like anything, learning how to conduct a group interview takes time and patience. I hope this article helps and I wish you success when interviewing salespeople.