The phrase ‘People are our most valuable asset’ is often used in workplaces, but it’s not entirely accurate. The truth is that the ‘right people’ are the most valuable asset. This highlights the importance of using excellent recruitment practices – especially when hiring managers and salespeople in today’s fiercely competitive economy.

Studies have shown that how people respond to adversity is a strong predictor of their success potential.

Dr. Martin Seligman, considered the father of the positive psychology movement, conducted an interesting experiment to test this theory. He hired a team of financial services sales agents based solely on their ability to handle adversity, even though the majority of them did not match the profile of a successful agent. They were hired as the ultimate test of how response to adversity impacts performance. Over time, this group of ‘rejects’ became the top-performing salespeople in the organization.

So, here’s a question for you. How do you test the candidate’s ability to handle adversity during your selection process? To ensure you’re hiring the right people, it’s a test you need to have.

Use this powerful adversity test in your recruitment process

Note this approach should not be used at first interview. It’s for the second or third interview. Here’s what you do, you invite the candidates you wish to see again to prepare a 10 minute, stand-up, one-way presentation. You don’t want it to be a two-way interactive presentation, because that takes too much time.

Be sure to give them the topic ahead of time. If they’re not that senior it can be on their hobby or their sport. Otherwise choose a topic that’s relevant to the job they’re applying for. For example, when we are recruiting management and sales training consultants we invite them to prepare a 10 minute presentation on communication skills.

You don’t need a large audience, two or three of you is absolutely perfect. The important thing is to make the presentation a real challenge for the candidate.

Be engaged

During the presentation be engaged, look as if you are enjoying it, maintain eye contact and nod in agreement where appropriate. You want the best candidates to buy you as well. When the presentation is over, regardless of whether you are impressed or not, applaud and show your appreciation. Then invite the candidate to take a seat.  

Don’t critique their presentation, it’s not a public speaking class. Instead debrief them by asking questions like: “How do you feel that went?”, “May I ask how long you spent preparing it?” and “If we asked you to do the same presentation again next week, to a different group would you do it the same, or would you make some changes?”

A 10 minute stand-up presentation can reveal more about a candidate than hours of face-to-face interviews. It’s worth noting that some candidates may not even show up, but that’s a good thing. It means the process is working. They’ve auto-selected themselves out because they can’t deal with the challenge. So do include a stand-up presentation in your selection process.  You’ll be delighted you did.

Read more about LDL sales training and management training.

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