Don't Just Interview Sales Candidates- Interview Past Managers- Too!


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I was just spending a few minutes at the Chicago White Sox web site, absorbing some of the techniques being used by pitching coach, Don Cooper.

He was jumping on his staff for exhibiting too much of a laid back quality. Instead, he wants them to aggressively challenge hitters.

The article got me to thinking about the coaches I had in baseball. Some were laid back, others were micro-managers. I was trying to recall who I did better with.

I’d say it was the hands-off leaders that got my best performances.

My mind shifted to this business question: Why don’t we spend more time and invest more effort in interviewing past managers of our candidates? Don’t their styles also have a lot to do with the overall success of their “players?”

If I’m a salesperson, for instance, and it’s your job to recruit me, wouldn’t it be useful to know that my last manager elicited my best achievements by utterly leaving me alone and staying out of my way?

What if you’re next in line to become my manager and you believe there is only one way to sell, that it’s “Your way, or the highway?” You want everyone on your team to follow a set presentation and not to deviate.

But I’m your candidate and I’m not used to having someone like you breathing down my neck, or even monitoring my techniques at all. Won’t there be an inevitable clash down the road?

Perhaps we should not only check employment references in a standard way but also it would make sense to probe a little about the management philosophy and styles that were in place at the last locale.

Manager to manager, we might be able to learn valuable information that would enable us to hire with more intelligence and confidence.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books and more than a thousand articles. His seminars and training programs are sponsored internationally and he is a top-rated faculty member at more than 40 universities, including UCLA Extension, where he has taught since 1999. Dynamic, experienced, and lots of fun, Gary brings more than two decades of solid management and consulting experience to the table, along with the best academic preparation and credentials in the speaking and training industry. Holder of five degrees, including a Ph. D. from the Annenberg School For Communication at USC, an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management, and a law degree from Loyola, his clients include several Fortune 1000 companies along with successful family owned and operated firms across America. Much more than a “talking head, ” Gary is a top mind that you?ll enjoy working with and putting to use. He can be reached at:


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