Expert Commentary

Behavioral Interviewing in the Auto Industry

Auto dealerships are constantly focused on team building to reduce employee turnover and increase sales. But, it can be daunting to find good salespeople and service associates who will drive revenue and have good customer service skills to improve their Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Scores.


Employee Hiring, Development, and Retention
August 2017

That's why auto dealers need tools to ask the right interview questions to prospective employees. This is accomplished by probing each candidate’s past behavior to find reliable information that helps predict future outcomes.

This behavioral interviewing method addresses three major challenges facing auto dealers trying to assemble the right team to grow your dealership.

Ensure Hiring Managers Follow a Consistent Process

The process of hiring and retaining quality team members starts with the hiring manager. If the dealership experiences high turnover, start at the top and the beginning with management and interviewing skills.

Does the hiring manager follow a consistent process for getting the best sales and service people on the team? Or, is there a rogue mentality to subjectively hire the salesperson who is most likable and the service candidate with the most impressive résumé?

Having the right tools will eliminate the guesswork that goes into hiring team members and make sure the team is aligned in the hiring process. A behavioral interview helps the hiring manager focus on what can be objectively measured about the candidate, building consistency into the interview process.

Hire People Who Will Sell

Auto dealerships need to hire people who can actually sell cars. Fortunately, advanced research will help you find the right candidate to meet sales goals.

Emotional intelligence research indicates a strong correlation between self-awareness and high sales revenue. This means that an individual who exudes confidence and strong social skills translates to a highly productive car salesperson.

But, it's one thing for a candidate to talk about having confidence and social skills. Does their past behavior actually indicate that? A behavioral interview approach allows you to separate hypotheticals from reality by asking primary and secondary probing questions to determine whether a salesperson will actually do what he or she claims.

That way, you can separate candidates who actually have low self-awareness scores. These individuals are likely to fizzle out as a poor match for the role, which means more turnover. But, if you do not have the tools to find this out, your hiring manager could be hiring the wrong person.

Hire People with Great Customer Service Skills

A third major challenge facing auto dealers is hiring people with great customer service skills to build up CSI Scores. The sales process does not stop with the initial vehicle purchase. Customers need to return to the dealership for parts and labor, when they are in the market again for a vehicle, and when it’s time for another family member to buy a car.

But, if the customer did not feel valued or cared for after the initial sale, customer loyalty is an unlikely outcome. Hiring the right service representatives and employees in the service department will ensure multiple sales opportunities beyond the initial purchase.

Research indicates there is a strong correlation between customer service agents with intuition and empathy and repeat sales. Again, though, it’s one thing for a candidate to talk about being empathetic and having intuition to read a customer, it’s another thing to be able to look into the candidate’s past behavior as an indicator of how he or she will actually perform at the dealership.

Because the CSI Scores are so important to a dealership, hiring the right customer service candidate is vital to improve a dealership’s standing with the manufacturer and reputation with customers.

A proven methodology and training course shows auto dealerships how a behavioral interview will help hire and retain salespeople for team building.


Mike Poskey is president of ZERORISK HR, Inc., a Dallas-based human resources risk management firm and exclusive provider of ZERORISK Hiring System. For more information, visit www.ZERORISKHR.com or email him at .


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