Want to recruit top talent? Master the art of virtual interviewing

Publish Date: October 25, 2023

Written by Jim Turner

- Originally published at Inman News - Jim Turner

Although COVID-19 caused many portions of the real estate industry to shift fundamentally, adopting virtual work and meetings has been slower than in other sectors. Among the most significant shifts has been the move to virtual interviews in the recruitment process.

These interviews offer the interviewer and the interviewee unprecedented flexibility, but they require a distinct approach to be effective. Let’s explore how real estate brokers can adapt and excel in this new interviewing landscape.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about virtual interviews:

  • Virtual interviews are here to stay in real estate agent recruitment, take advantage of the added flexibility, but be aware they take set-up and care to be efficient.
  • Understand who you’re interviewing, a seasoned agent is more of a culture fit exercise, for new or lead-based agents, use assessments and additional fielding to see if they are a fit. 
  • Remember, you are selling your brokerage just as much as they sell themselves, you need to have your core value propositions ironed out.

The preparation phase

Multilayered technology check

Technical glitches can disrupt the flow of an interview and leave a poor impression. Therefore, go beyond basic equipment checks. Invest in professional-grade cameras and microphones, and even explore platforms that allow for branded virtual backgrounds. This not only elevates the candidate’s experience but signals the technological proficiency of your brokerage.

Conduct a test run to ensure everything is in working order, and check compatibility with the candidate’s setup to mitigate last-minute issues.

Mock interviews

Role-playing interviews will help you develop and practice explaining your value proposition and objection-handling techniques for the common objections you will encounter. Also, agents will ask more challenging technical questions about your brokerage, adding another layer of complexity to the interview process.

To maximize their effectiveness, conduct mock interviews within your team. This helps to fine-tune your interviewing approach and ensures you make the most of these advanced tools.

Selling your brokerage

This is your chance to stand out from competing brokerages and win the agent over. The first part of the interview is crucial for setting the stage and showcasing what your brokerage brings. Perhaps you offer cutting-edge technology solutions to make an agent’s workflow more efficient.

If your brokerage is renowned for its hands-on mentorship programs, or you have cultivated a collaborative culture that agents find empowering, highlight the growth opportunities. 

Focus on these unique selling points as you would in any sales pitch. Provide real-life examples or data demonstrating the tangible benefits agents will enjoy when partnering with your brokerage.

The agent is the brokerage’s customer in this equation, and much like in B2B sales, the emphasis is on mutual benefit. You’re not just offering a job; you’re proposing a partnership to provide value to both parties.

Dean Cottrill of T3 Sixty Consulting summed it up nicely on my podcast: “The No. 1 return on investment for time, money and energy is recruiting productive agents, yet some people get in their own way and put bar doors on their office and say, I can decide who is productive or not in the interview process. I’ve recruited thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of agents … if you act ethically and professionally, I am okay with putting you on the treadmill.”

Cultural fit assessment

The second part of the interview should gauge the agent’s fit into your brokerage’s culture. However, the depth of this assessment may vary. A lighter evaluation is usually sufficient if the agent is mainly self-generated for the brokerage and won’t receive leads.

On the other hand, if they’re joining a specific team and will be provided with leads, a more thorough evaluation is advisable.

Tailored questioning

If the agent will be part of a specific team or be given leads, it may be worthwhile to dive into detailed questioning techniques about their sales process. Pose hypothetical scenarios to ensure the candidate can handle your clientele and the type of transaction and find success with your brokerage.

Remember, leads often cost considerable resources, and you want agents who can effectively close them. Consider questions less about competencies and more about adaptability, teamwork, and alignment with your brokerage’s sales and customer relations approach.

Post-interview actions

Immediate feedback

It’s always courteous and professional to let the candidate know the timeline for a decision. If you can offer immediate feedback, do so tactfully, balancing constructive criticism with positive reinforcement.

Post-first discussion assessments

Although competency and personality assessments can be a powerful tool in the hiring process, timing matters. Instead of sending these assessments before the first conversation, consider mentioning them at the end of your initial phone call or virtual meeting. This approach allows you to establish a rapport and gauge interest before asking candidates to invest time in an assessment. 

Assessments serve two valuable functions. First, they offer a quantitative method for understanding a candidate’s suitability for your brokerage’s culture and operational flow.

Second, they generate talking points for subsequent interviews, allowing for a deeper exploration of the candidate’s mindset and professional history. 

Tailoring assessments to candidate experience

The use of assessments like DISC varies depending on the agent’s experience level. These evaluations are particularly beneficial for new agents who may join your team and receive leads but may be less relevant for seasoned professionals. After your first discussion, recommend they take the assessment and schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss the results in person.

Record and review

Technology offers the convenience of recording interviews. Once you’ve obtained the candidate’s consent, this feature enables you to revisit the interview at your leisure, allowing for a more thorough post-interview analysis.

Benefits and challenges of virtual interviews

Although virtual interviews offer several advantages, such as geographic flexibility, cost-effectiveness and efficiency, they aren’t without challenges. From technical glitches to difficulty accurately assessing soft skills and ensuring cybersecurity, each obstacle has its own set of solutions that can be prepared for in advance. Make sure you think about these elements before the interview.

Mastering the art of the virtual interview is critical if you want to reach every potential candidate. The method is here to stay, and not meeting agents considering your brokerage halfway will cause you to miss some heavy producers that value flexibility above all.

Being well-prepared and understanding the potentials and pitfalls of virtual interviews will arm you with the tools needed to make superior hiring decisions, bolstering your brokerage’s competitive edge in an ever-evolving real estate landscape.

Jim Turner is CEO of the Brokerkit growth platform for real estate brokers. Connect with him on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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