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First Impressions Count!

Talk Business

This article is taken from Talk Business Magazine, click here to subscribe today!

Our  Director Lee McQueen reveals what he looks for in potential candidates, and explains why you never get a second chance to make a first impression

There’s a saying that has really stuck with me: apparently, somebody will form an opinion of you within the first 7-10 seconds of meeting you. And that opinion is really tough to shake. There’s a reason they say first impressions count. So what do I look for?

If I’m looking for a face-to-face sales role, I want them to look smart and professional. I’m looking for presentation. There’s nothing worse than someone coming in dressed in a suit and a tie who still manages to look scruffy. First and foremost, I’m looking for people that have made the effort, who are looking the part.

I look for enthusiasm. The first question I ask is, what are they passionate about? Because if you are passionate and can get that passion across, that’s what engages people and enthuses them. I would always look for that. If a candidate mumbles and sounds bored, that’s never going to sell me anything; I want to see passion coming across. So they need to look the part, be professional and be passionate.

They have to have knowledge. I might come across as rough around the edges, but I always have the knowledge I need underneath it. If you’re going to persuade a customer to spend £10,000, you’ve got to know about their business. It’s the same when candidates come in for interview – they need to know about my business.

It sounds ridiculous, but my biggest turn-off is someone that comes in without a pen and paper – because it’s a listening game in sales. It’s all about using the two ears God gave you. I say come in and write notes, there’s nothing wrong with that: it means they’re taking an interest. If I’m saying this is what the company does, this is what the role is, this is what we’re looking for, I want someone to be taking it in and writing it down. You can only sell off the back of knowledge. Being prepared to interact is key. Some candidates think of an interview as a one-way conversation – but it’s two-way, especially in sales. If you can’t talk to the interviewer, how can you do a sales role where you’re having two-way conversations every day?

I do interviews personally and I do them for other people. Our process is quite robust; we do a series of tests to see if they’re consistent, to see if they can work as a team and individually, to see if they can sell. It’s like a mini The Apprentice. The hardest part of working with raw talent is knowing how to set the bench mark. A good indicator is if they play competitive sport, because it uses a lot of the same attributes: competition, teamwork, leadership and dedication. If someone was captain of their rugby team at school for example, all the skills are completely transferrable, so it flags up that they may well have what it takes to do the job.

Find the latest digital copy of Talk Business Magazine here.

About the Author

Lee McQueen

Lee McQueenRaw Talent Academy Director & BBC Apprentice Winner Connect on Linkedin - all posts by Lee McQueen

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OBA-2015-blackNamed Small Business of the Year 2015

Director Lee McQueen named Young Business Person of the Year 2015