After dialing about 30 numbers (15 of which were disconnected), leaving about 10 voicemails, and listening through about 4 of the most annoying callertunes ever, you finally get someone on the phone. You are conducting your interview of this potential prospect, feeling them out, when they decide to interrupt you with a question of their own.
What do you do?
Some reading this may have no idea why this is even an issue (don’t worry, I’m going to bring you up to speed). Others are smiling right now because they already know where this is headed. The bottom line is: the person asking the questions is the one in control of the conversation.
Do police officers or soldiers answer questions? No, they control situations. They ask YOU questions. They slap your questions aside like mosquitoes on a muggy day.
Think of your interview as a fencing match. The person asking the questions is the one on the attack. They are in control. They are looking for a weakness or flaw to take advantage of in their opponent. The other participant is simply defending. They hold no sway in the outcome at this point. Unless the attacker makes a mistake.
So, where do prospects get off interrupting you to ask you questions? You are supposed to be a leader, a master recruiter, an expert in your field. Start acting like one and control the conversation! You do it however you feel comfortable, but you do NOT answer any questions until you are done asking your own. Here’s a couple of examples of things you might say:
- “That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked it! We’ll be getting to that in just a sec. Now, you said you have 2 kids, right?”
- “The purpose of this call is simply to find out if you would be a good fit for my company. My time is very valuable, so we can either end the call here or I can continue the interview. Which would you like?”
Notice how both statements end with a question directed back to the prospect. This puts control of the conversation firmly back in your hands. You are probably going to stick with a variation of, “Good question, I’ll be covering that shortly. [insert random question here].”
Of course, you don’t want to sound like a robot and you may want to make sure that “random question” allows you to pick up right where you left off. If someone is consistently interrupting, then you may want to go with the more stern example above and probably end up sending them along their way. One of the best things you can do to avoid battling for control is to tell your prospect to write down any questions they may have so that you can answer them later.
Not only will controlling the conversation help you to maintain your leadership status, but it will help you sort you prospects faster as well.