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There was a time when “any” agent was potentially a good agent. The pressure to hire real estate salespeople to build a productive office has always been the mandate of every brokerage firm. Today’s reduced commissions, iBuyer programs, internet lead costs and high agent splits drive many brokers and agent teams to bring on agents, no matter the consequence. The market imperatives actually require the opposite. What happens when the wrong fit poisons the office environment or the firm expends time and energy on a sales associate who crashes and burns? The opportunity cost is often greater than the incremental benefit.

One of the most important things to do before you talk to any potential agent candidates is to identify the characteristics that best suit your office culture. Yes, there is a definite culture within your office, whether you recognize it or not. Take the time to define what that is. Ask yourself, does our office cater to new agents with the type of training and support needed to allow them to flourish? Is ours a firm that is geared more toward an experienced agent who already knows the basic ins and outs of the business? Do our agents gladly assist one another, sharing leads and ideas, or are they totally independent and use the office resources sparingly, only as necessary? Once you’ve defined your culture, frame your interview questions to surface what that candidate is seeking.

Next, only hire motivated salespeople. Great sales managers know to be careful with whom they let near their sales team’s minds. Once contaminated, it’s difficult to root out a problem. So, is the agent truly goal-oriented? Do they have aspirations large enough to drive them to talk to people, to get the training needed, to attend social events and to get out there and hustle? Motivation is inherent. It cannot be taught. So, does your interview contain enough questions to flesh out motivation? One of my favorites is, “Imagine that we are sitting here one year from today. What specifically will you have accomplished during your first year with our firm that will make you feel proud you joined our team?”

Finally, in addition to evaluating motivation, personal skills, selling skills and sociability, it’s a good idea to look for agents who, through life’s experiences, have gathered a large group of contacts and relationships. Today’s margins are too thin for a broker to promise agents a lot of leads so an agent needs to come into the business or join an office, knowing enough people with whom they can immediately connect. They also can’t be afraid to maintain contact with those folks. If the response in an interview is “I really don’t believe in working with family and friends because that might ruin those relationships”, move on. They will have a difficult time in the industry, especially because many of their new clients and prospects will become their friends and if they won’t solicit them for future business they’ll have no source for referrals.

Often, the best outcome to an agent interview is a decision to just say no to the interviewee. Twenty years of hiring and training agents has taught me some valuable lessons about what we DO want and what we should attempt to avoid. It’s not an exact science to be sure. A former stockbroker who routinely earned $200,000+ per year failed, while an office assistant in a dental office with no practical sales experience achieved rookie of the year. It’s a mix of experience, aptitudes and attitudes that predict a potential real estate salesperson’s success. Not EVERYbody is a GOOD body for your team.

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