Hiring Tips

No, I don’t want to sell you a pen, because you don’t want to buy it.

The following post has been contributed by our guest blogger, Vandit Jain. With an enthusiasm towards writing, Vandit’s keen interest are travel, start up’s and leadership writing. Vandit likes observing mechanisms and systems and has a keen interest in planning an improvisation. Vandit is currently working at PlaynLive, a start up based in New Delhi. Vandit has had intense leadership experiences through his stint at AIESEC as the Local Committee President.

Vandit is running a blog, Ezcapeit, on solo traveling to inspire the same in the country.

“Can you sell me this pen?”

This one line/question has defined a lot many careers, at-least in India. But the big question is. Is it really the best way to judge someone’s sales skill?

In the next 500 words I am going to share my perspective about companies in India majorly and their flawed recruitment process. Note: This is just an observation and a realization, but not generalization.

Recently, I witnessed the interview process of quite a few companies for Sales and Business Development and each of the time the question came to sell something or a role play of mock sales/sales meet the process fell apart, no, not because the question is wrong/absurd or irrelevant, but because the person who is at the receiving end is expected to act like a potential customer but becomes an adamant individual whose persona is to cut each thing you say. 

A few days back, I interviewed for a well established company and when I was selling a mobile phone in my interview, the HR’s intention was not at all to buy it but to make it difficult for me to even pitch the product. Now, we all have seen The Wolf of Wall Street and probably a lot of you will say. A great salesman does not take a no for an answer. Yes, but a great salesman also does not pursue a customer against his/her will, especially when the customer has said he/she is not interested in even listening, but in this scenario, it is expected to “Convince” them even if they are interested in buying an earphone rather than a cellphone.

Before you pass any judgement, let me clarify, I am not against asking someone to sell a pen what I don’t like is the scenario which the recruiter creates is not even close to reality. The HR guys need to create a more real-time situation which involves not merely just convincing, but conversation, establishing a relationship and creating a connection because in this modern age of IT development in the world doesn’t need a seller it needs a conversationalist. If it were up to me, I would leave the candidate in a room with an unknown person and would see how he/she pursues to build a relationship with a complete stranger by the end selling a ‘pen’ because today Sales is no more convincing, it is the art of conversation. Remember the famous video by Simon Sinek, people buy ‘WHY’ you do it, they connect with your purpose and that can only happen if you meet with the intention of talking.


A few observations and suggestions to a lot of recruiters who are recruiting using this process:-

1) Everyone has a different method of selling things, maybe direct selling is not one of their methods, maybe it’s different. Have a process which can expose the candidate in all directions. I guess you will agree there is just not a one way to sell a product, but this process restricts only to a single way which makes your company loose on diverse sellers. You end up hiring Good talkers but not good thinkers.

2) It is completely fine to be a challenging customer in the interview until it’s in the spirit of the role and the reality, the moment you step out of it, the process just looses its purpose.

3) How are you making a candidate comfortable in your interview? Are you one of those recruiters who starts asking questions the moment the candidate sits or are you one of those who makes the candidate feels like home at first and this is not for the candidate but your company as there are 2 reasons attached to it. a) It can leave a better impression of your organization and obviously nothing will go wrong if you just start ought to ask questions immediately, that’s what the candidate is expecting, but I think this should be the line between ‘Good to Great.’ and then you have all the right to be a hard and ‘not so easy to deal with HR guy.’ b) You need to get the best out of the candidate because your company equally needs a resource as much as a candidate needs a job and each candidate rejection is an addition to your time and Time=Money, remember? You need the candidate perform the best.

4) Doesn’t matter what type of company you are, your hiring process is the single most important thing in the world for you. If you are one of those companies who judge the candidate in 10-15 minutes and select and reject evolve the process and evolution doesn’t mean you increase the time, make it more efficient and relevant. Include personality tests as homework, case studies as a part of the interview, how a candidate approaches a difficult problem in a short span of time etc.

If you are recruiting all year round and not because you are expanding, but people are leaving very easily, something is not so great with your organization. 🙂


Ask to sell a pen which you really want to buy 🙂

Tags : penSales
Soumil Kar

The author Soumil Kar