North American Association of Sales Engineers

North American Association of Sales Engineers

European Association of Sales Engineers

Key insights on Presales Hiring Criteria

Drum roll…. and the results are in… At Bright Dynamics we surveyed 103 PreSales leaders from around the world, asking 54 questions around hiring and candidate assessment. Some of the results may surprise you.

Let’s start with how the differing competencies and job components rated.

Which competencies do PreSales leaders rate when they hire?

Which job components do PreSales leaders feel are most important for success in the role?

For PreSales leaders there should be value in benchmarking yourself against the beliefs of 103 peers, for individual contributors the results provide a clear picture as to what hiring managers care most about when they interview, having great stories around the first five job components and making a concerted effort to demonstrate the first five competencies should be time well spent when preparing for interviews.

Hard skills vs soft skills

For individual contributors interviewing for PreSales roles, we believe these finding should be heartening. PreSales hiring managers are generally pretty flexible around any hard skills gaps as long as they can see a high ceiling of potential, which means you can be more confident going into a job interview where you don’t fully meet the job spec. Equally, it shines a light on the importance of making every effort to showcase your soft skills when interviewing.

Here we see a significant reliance on the hiring manager interview and the panel stage, which opens the question, why slow the hiring process down with layers of additional interviews?

Making a case for change.

To summarise additional findings.

Hiring is important: There is significantly different business impact between making a bad hire, good hire and superstar hire. it’s business critical to get hiring right.

The PreSales job market is challenging for employers: 75% of leaders surveyed rated it 7/10 or above to find quality candidates.

Use of gut feel is widespread: 58% of respondents said their own intuition was 8/10 important or more. Hiring manager’s rate their own interview as most effective of all assessment measures.

Limited structure and planning: only 50% of hiring teams kick-off hiring with a fully defined criteria to assess against, only 46% have the matrix developed and shared with the hiring team.

The output of the hiring process is seldom measured: 73% of respondents don’t measure quality of hire.

Our recommendations

Based on the findings we laid out our recommendations, which we believe simple to implement and in most cases cost free:

  • Define a criteria and scorecard to evaluate candidates against. If you don’t define what you’re looking for it’s going to be harder to find it.
  • Share the scorecard with the hiring team.
  • Ask different members of the hiring team to assess generally as well as focusing on a specific competency. This ensures that total time spent with each candidate is maximised and creates a better candidate experience (candidates don’t appreciate being asked the same question multiple times).  
  • Ensure the hiring team have PreSales specific interview training and support. There is place for intuition in making hiring decisions, we believe that interviewing is a skill which, when improved, will enable hiring managers to make decisions based on informed intuition and reduced biases.
  • Measure quality of hire: At the point of hire have every member of the hiring team       rate each competency, providing a picture of how the hiring decision was made. Then rate each new hire across all competencies at 6 months and 1 years’ tenure. With this data managers are able to analyse how effective assessment is across each of the individual competencies that leads to success and across interview panel members. With this data PreSales leaders can better understand which hiring criteria they are effective at measuring and where there are blind spots. Equally, interviewers who have a clear track record of accurate prediction can be modelled, bought into improve the hiring process and asked to mentor and train other hiring managers.

Additional recommendations:

  • To measure ability to partner effectively with AEs, beyond interview questions simulate real-life by asking an AE on the panel to act in a challenging manner in a prep call before the demo or during the demo itself.
  • To assess discovery skills, provide a demo stage brief which is purposely light on information and offer a ‘prep call’ to each candidate prior to the demo stage. This provides the candidate an opportunity to showcase real-life discovery skills in an ambiguous and relatively high-stakes situation, simulating real-world situations.

This guest blog was written by John Hodgson.

To learn in more depth, access the full report here: Report

You can also access our series of conversations with top PreSales professionals on hiring and getting hired here: PreSales Hireside Chats

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