To Coach or Not to Coach


As a sales manager who’s involved in our hiring process, I’m trapped in a dilemma. I want job candidates to do well in their interview – I wouldn’t take the meeting unless I was optimistic the applicant could succeed. But I’m often left disappointed. The disappointment is by things I think are basic to the interviewing cycle – understanding my background (heard of LinkedIn?), knowing what the company does and a little about our market, even basic things like closing for the offer (remember I’m in sales – if you don’t close me for the job, I have no confidence you’ll close for a deal).

So it begs the question – should I (or our recruiter) coach and help prep the candidate before they come in? I’ve had this conversation and gotten both sides of the spectrum. Some firmly believe you should prep the candidate so they can target their message and bring their ‘A’ game. Others are aghast, think the candidate needs to be quick on their feet and react accordingly.

What do you think?

I’m not sure there’s a right answer, but thought it was worth testing. We recently initiated a new process for our job candidates. We feel the applicant needs to get through the screening process (normally done via phone) and demonstrate to us that they’ve done the basics of understanding our business without any coaxing or coaching. We want to see them “run what they brung” and align their background to the relevance of the role.

If successful at that mission, they proceed to the next step of onsite interviews. At this point, we recently starting sharing a Marketo Corporate Sales Values sheet with the candidate. This allows the candidate to get some insight to what we value and care about within Marketo. My hope is the candidate internalizes this and hones their message to show how they’ve exhibited these traits.

We’ve just started doing this so I don’t have enough anecdotal evidence to provide insight yet. But I’m curious about what other have done and what others think of this idea?