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Recruit Better Real Estate Agents: A 15-Step Plan For Vetting Top Talent

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You have generated a great recruiting lead for your office or team. Whether you’re a broker-owner, manager, or team leader, your ability to conduct a successful recruiting interview will determine the ultimate success of your office or team. 

A successful recruiting interview depends on how well you have prepared along with your ability to ask the right questions, assess whether the agent is a good fit for your company and to close the agent on moving to your office or team. 

Preparation

Create a job description 

A real estate’s agent job description comes down to six words: “Generate leads, convert leads, close transactions.” Your primary focus during the interview should be assessing the agent’s ability in each of those three areas. (For a more detailed job description at no charge, visit ziprecruiter.com.)

Prior to your interview, research the candidate

Research how many listings the agent has taken in the last 12 months, whether they have a website, as well as searching their various social media accounts and the types of posts they generally make. In addition, search their name plus the word “complaint” and also the word “reviews.” 

Also be sure to check with your agents. Better to find out early if an agent has a bad temper, is difficult to work with, or any other facts that would make that person a poor hire. 

Have all candidates complete a written job application

Ask about where they went to school, any previous jobs they may have held, as well as where they have worked since they became licensed. Do not ask about age, ethnicity, family status, religion or any other issues that may run afoul of the many antidiscrimination laws governing these areas. 

Ask for 3 references

When I was the acting vice president for Keller Williams University, they required at least three references and that you also went “three deep.” This meant that you ask each person you interview if they can supply the contact information for someone else who would be willing to give the candidate a reference.

The idea was to receive at least one additional (third level) recommendation from the second tier of recommendations. In practice, it can be tough to do, but smart if the position is a key hire for your team or company. No matter what you do, however, be sure to follow up on all three of the first-tier recommendations the candidate gives you. 

Have a trusted member of your staff call the agent to inquire about a listing

This allows you to discover how they treat incoming buyer and seller calls from strangers as well as how quickly they respond to inquiries.

Anyone can bring their ‘A’ game once. Conduct more than one interview

Your first interview will be by phone. This allows you to assess how the agent will sound when they speak with clients.

The second interview should be face-to-face at your office. To make the potential recruit more comfortable, avoid sitting behind a desk — a round table is ideal. 

Interview questions 

The best questions begin with the words “how” or “what.” These two words generate longer, more detailed responses as opposed to asking “who,” “when” or “where,” which generally result in very short answers. Also avoid asking “why” because it puts the other person on the defensive. Other questions to ask include:

  • What do you like about your current office?
  • How is your firm investing in your success? 
  • What’s missing from your perspective?
  • What three tools does your company provide that you feel you can’t do business without? 
  • If you were going to recommend that an agent join a brokerage other than your own, what about that company would cause you to recommend them? 

When it comes to changing offices or companies, the questions above help you identify what matters most to the agent you’re interviewing. Pay special attention to the “what’s missing question.” If you offer a service, product, or technology their current office doesn’t offer, you can use this benefit as a pain point to help you close the agent later in the interview.

Also be curious and “dig deeper.” To do that say, “Tell me more about that” or ask them for more information. For example, if their current office offers something you do not offer, ask them to explain what they like about it and how they use it in their business. 

Be sure to do this

Take notes on what they say. This shows that you are so interested in them and what they’re saying that you took the trouble to write it down. You will also be able to reference these notes when you’re ready to close them on joining your team or company. 

Ask experiential questions that explore the agent’s skill set

These next four questions allow you to assess how well the agent handles routine business challenges. It would be worthwhile to ask the following questions. 

  • Tell me about your current production, including what’s working and where you could use some help. 
  • If I were to refer a listing lead to you, how would you market it? 
  • One of our agents had a problem in a transaction with XYZ. How would you have handled it?
  • One of your listings is about to expire. What will you do to make sure your clients relist with you?

When you spot an issue, ask yourself whether this is an issue that can be addressed through training or by some other means or is it a deal breaker.

To close or not to close?

If you realize that a candidate is not a good fit, point out something they like or they deem necessary at their current company that your company or team does not offer. Next say, 

You said that XYZ was very important to your business, and we don’t offer that product/service. Thank you for taking the time to come in and interview with me. I very much appreciate it!

If you believe the agent is a good fit for your office, close on what they said is most important to them when you make your offer. In terms of solutions or benefits your company provides, show them how these tools or systems can help them overcome the challenges they’re facing.

Again, the groundwork you laid by writing down what the agent said earlier in the interview is critical to closing them.   

Following up after the interview

  • Send every agent that you interview a handwritten thank you note.  
  • If the agent is still unsure about joining your team or office, invite the agent back for a 1:1 coaching session with you, your office trainer or coach.
  • You could also invite them to an educational event at your office.
  • A third option is to have one of your agents arrange to have coffee with the agent and answer any questions they may have about joining your company.

Since many agents wait to change offices until the end of the year, now is prime recruiting time. Take advantage of it!

Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with more than 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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