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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

How to hire successful producers

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Have you ever hired the wrong producer?

You’re not alone, and I’ll bet I know why.

According to research, between 70 and 90 percent of hiring decisions are based on the interview. The problem is interviews have only a 14 percent accuracy rate for predicting future performance.

The secret to success is knowing what to look for, and how to get at it in an interview. I’m going to share a strategy with you that will help you do just that.

How to really measure candidates

The first step in being able to better assess potential hires is to understand what to look for. In our work to help clients make better hiring decisions, we’ve identified three levels of assessment, a model of which is pictured above. That is, three areas that people use when trying to size-up a candidate.

The first level is the first impression. It’s based on appearance, mannerisms, expressiveness and presence. It’s not particularly valuable, but we can’t help making judgements using it. A study done at Princeton University suggests that in just 100 milliseconds, people are making decisions about you, or you’re making decisions about others based on their appearance. 

The second level is the kind of information you would find on somebody’s resume. This level encompasses learned skills, experience, education and credentials. This level has a greater impact on predicting performance on the job. We call that the “Can Do” level, because it tells you what this person says they can do. Here’s it doesn’t tell you: what they will do once they start working for you.

It’s the third level that tells you the most about future performance. Look at some of the characteristics level three uncovers for you and think about them in terms of assessing a successful producer.

Are they self-motivated? Do they have the persistence to make eight follow-up calls to close the deal? Do they have the maturity and capacity to learn what works with your book of business and adapt? Will their personality fit with your culture? Are they the right person to help you institutionalize your book, or will they just be out for themselves?

Keep reading for details about a highly targeted targeted interview process.

See also:

5 things a great producer didn’t tell you

9 things to do when what you’re doing isn’t working

The 3-step interview process

Conducting interviews that will enable you to find and hire successful producers is a three-step process. It begins before you ever look at a single resume.

Step 1: Define the job. Consider and document all the Level 2 and Level 3 requirements for success in the role. What do they need to have and what’s a nice-to-have? Create a target that you will use to measure all candidates against. Our clients use our online system to create this profile, but you can do it manually or use this form to help.

Step 2: Assess candidates. Since you used your job profile created in step 1 to create your job description, you’ve had a flood of candidates who are confident that they meet your specific criteria. Now, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. We recommend a 6-step method to our clients:

  1. Review resumes for minimum Level 2 criteria and develop an interview strategy.
  2. Conduct telephone screening interviews.
  3. Conduct face-to-face interviews (tips on how below).
  4. Assign pre-employment personality tests to your short list.
  5. Conduct follow-up interviews.
  6. Check references.

Step 3: Document and decide. Review all your documented results from assessments, interview notes and reference check notes against the original target profile you created and, yes, check your gut. Then choose the candidate that most closely matches your criteria.

Conducting the right kind of interview

There are number of different types of interview questions you can ask, and you’ll ask them all in most interviews. To be sure to get at those Level 3 criterial, though, you have to include behavioral interview questions. They look something like this: “Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond to gain a client? What was the end result?”

These questions will pull out specific examples of past behavior, which is a great indicator of how they’ll behave in the future. The questions you ask will be role-specific, but they should also be customized to each candidate based on the questions/concerns that arose during your resume review and screening interviews.

Pick a Level 3 trait and consider how a successful producer would use it on the job. Then turn those desired actions into questions. If you’ve got a long sales cycle and you’re not sure if this candidate has the determination to keep on prospects, maybe something like: “Tell me about a time when you had a prospect you felt needed your product, but who wasn’t responding to your calls.”

At The McQuaig Institute, our system actually provides customized behavioral interview questions for each candidate who completes a pre-employment test, making it easy to get at the information that matters. But you can also do it yourself with a little more work.

Asking the right questions is just half the battle, though. If you ask a behavioral interview question, note the response and move onto the next question on your list, you’re missing the boat. You have to know what information you need to get from the response. If you don’t get it, you need to follow up and make sure you do. Effective probing is critical for successful interviewing.  There’s more on “how to probe” here.

Be consistent

The final piece of the interview strategy is consistency. You have to have a documented process that you go through for each candidate. Don’t cut corners. Don’t change the hiring team players for each candidate. Consistency is critical for comparing apples to apples.

That’s not to say you don’t customize elements of your interview to each candidate. We’ve talked about how to do that above, but the process absolutely has to be consistent.

Create a target, measure against it by getting at the important information, and be consistent. Follow these steps and that all-star producer is as good as yours.

See also:

How you present yourself matters

Nine things successful people do differently


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