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by Terry Ledden

There are a couple of schools of thought on sales interview strategies.  Conversation or interrogation.

Good Cop

Good cop interviews are conducted in a structured yet conversational manner. No pressure questioning techniques are used to get below the surface of the candidate’s responses and questions. The interview is not an adversarial encounter. Many would argue that putting pressure on people causes them to clam up, not open up. One important objective of the interview is to expose hidden issues. That won’t happen when the candidate is feeling pressure and are unlikely to reveal their real thoughts and feelings.

OK, wait a minute. We’re hiring sales people here, right?

Bad Cop

Bad cop interviews, also highly structured, are designed to put (some) pressure on the candidates to observe how they’d operate in front of a “tough” prospect that is in a hurry, having a bad day and not all that impressed with what s/he is hearing.  Does the candidate (salesperson) fold or maintain composure? How does the communication style/intensity of the interview impact the candidates’ listening, thinking, questioning (important sales qualification skills) performance in the interview?  When the interviewer intentionally avoids answering questions of the candidate, does it result in her withdrawal (a sign of high need for approval) or does the individual adjust her question and continue to press on for an answer?

The Good Cop interview strategy relies on a trust based conversation to discover the true candidate. The Bad Cop interview relies on observation of behaviours in real time to discover the real candidate.

What do you think? What’s your experience been as either interviewee or interviewer?

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