Hiring a new commercial insurance producer is an important decision. One important requirement is to find someone with the cognitive ability, i.e. the smarts, for this career. Here are three interview questions that can help you to assess the cognitive abilities of a new producer candidate:
Describe a situation where you had to learn a lot in a short period of time.
What to look for: The answer reveals how they prefer to learn and their ability to learn quickly on the fly.
How hard did you need to study in college?
What to look for: The answer reveals a lot about their dedication to learning and their work ethic too. It may also reveal if a person breezed through college without much effort (bad, good or both?) or didn’t need to study that hard (mostly good) or didn’t take their formal education very seriously (mostly bad). Note: While there are exceptions, we recommend hiring insurance producers with a four-year college degree.
How do you acquire new knowledge in your current job?
What to look for: If they’re light or vague on specifics here, that’s a warning sign that they won’t invest the time and effort in continuous learning in the producer career.
One major problem a new producer faces is the heavy prospecting required to build the foundation of a book of business. How would you approach the prospecting challenge to begin building your book of business?
What to look for: Closely tied to cognitive ability is problem solving skill. As a practical matter, this problem-solving task is exactly what a new producer does at the beginning of the career. So, the depth and quality of the answer tells you how serious they are preparing to actually do the work. It reveals how they game plan, how they prospect, their local network and starter prospect pipeline, and their centers of influence. It also sheds light on the candidate’s thoughtfulness and depth of problem solving analysis. That’s a lot of good information from one question, huh? That’s why we always ask a producer candidate this question!
Beyond interviews, many of our clients invite new producer candidates to present a business plan, make a sales presentation, participate in a sales meeting, travel with a producer on client calls, or to attend a lunch/dinner meeting. Many of these elements help in the recruiting process and also serve as opportunities to assess the candidate’s smarts to be a successful commercial insurance producer.