Recruitment and Retention

How to Identify and Attract the Best New Candidates

After 10 years as a full time recruiter, and 20 years in the training industry, I have interviewed thousands of potential real estate agents. Each time I sat before a potential candidate, I had all the same thoughts that you do. I looked for all the “things” you do. I guess that is why I am constantly being asked by brokers and managers throughout the country, “What should I look for? Is there a way to know who will succeed? What does the right new agent look like?”

And after thousands of interviews, I can honestly say, “You never really know!” I remember times when the perfect agent was sitting across from me. They had that professional look, a successful background, great people skills and I would say to myself, “They are going to be great!” Then they would start, and do what? You’ve been there. They did nothing. Then there were the ones that I thought would never make it. But they were persistent, and I thought, “Why not. Let’s see what they can do.” And they went on to become a top producer!

So, even though you never really know 100 percent of the time, after thousands of interviews, there are some patterns. Here’s what I look for:

  1. If I couldn’t scare them away, that was a good sign: I think we owe it to them to be honest about the career they are about to embark on and their ability to work in a commissioned sales job. They trust us to only hire them if they can make it, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Here’s what I would do. I would tell them up front. “If I think that you can make it in the real estate business, I will hire you today. If I don’t hire you today, you should reconsider your decision to go into real estate. I am telling you this because ours is an industry where anyone with a license can find a job somewhere. But getting hired is not an indication that you will make any money. In fact, 90 percent of the people in this business earn a poverty level income. But again, if I think you’ll make it, I will hire you. And if I do hire you, I will do everything possible to insure your success. Does that sound fair?” I always had their attention, and I think they knew that I was serious.
  2. I would tell them the good stuff and the scary stuff as well, and try to build some humor into it along the way. I started with the fact that very successful real estate agents make well over $100,000 per year, and they can earn that after just a few years. I then told them that they could set their own hours, because they were the boss. They could sleep late or leave early. I then explained that they could have any insurance policy they wanted and any retirement plan that they wanted as well. They could take unlimited vacations, without asking anyone’s permission. I would then smile and say, “How does it sound so far?” Of course, they would say great. I would then continue with, “Of course, even though very successful agents earn over $100,000 per year, 90 percent of all agents earn under $20,000 per year. You can come and go as you please, but if you are not working, you are not earning any money. You should be prepared to work an average of 60 hours per week for the first year, and maybe every year! You can select an insurance and retirement policy, because you pay for it. You can take vacations any time you want, but someone needs to cover your business, and if you are not working, you are losing money. Are you still excited?” You would be amazed how many people do not know what it means to be an independent contractor. I went on to explain that there are two types of jobs in the world. High risk/high-income jobs, and high security/low income jobs. The higher the risk, the greater the potential for income. This is true in the stock market, as well as the job market. That’s why banks pay very little interest on a savings account. There is no risk and therefore, the return is low. But your money is very safe. However, those who invest in the stock market, have the potential for a far greater return on their investment or they could lose all their money. That’s why you make more if you are willing to take a risk. I would then find out why they wanted to give up the security of a “real job” and go into real estate. I looked for desire, motivation, confidence, passion, drive, and tenacity. I asked lots of questions and I paid attention to how I felt as they talked. I looked at their past successes and failures. How did they handle problems? How hard were they willing to work? Did I believe they could make it? If so, we continued.
  3. Use a behavior profile to discover behavior traits that will compliment or complicate their real estate career. There are a lot of professional interviewers out there who can fool anyone for one hour. I always profiled a new candidate. I have a simple 14 question test that can be graded on the spot, and will tell you things about that agent that they will not tell you in the interview. I would then bring up different things about them that I had discovered through the profile. Positive things, as well as areas of concern. In the past 20 years, it has been proven to be right about 97 percent of the time. It not only told me more about the agent, but it sometimes raised a red flag that I would address in the interview. For example: If I determined that they would resist prospecting, I would ask them, “How are you going to feel about calling total strangers, for one to three hours each day? The amiable ones would say, with hesitation, “I can do it.” I would then smile, and say “Are you sure?” If they said yes, I would say, “So let’s try it now!” There were lots of agents who would then panic, and say, “I can’t now.” But if they won’t call to get the job, they’ll never call after they have the job. I would have never had anyone make a call, I just needed to know if they would call after they were hired. I suggest that you find a behavior profile that you like and use it with the new ones.
  4. There are lots of other things that will increase their odds of making it. A professional image, a nice clean car, financial security, a strong sphere of influence, good eye contact, good people skills and a need to make more money than they are making now. The more pluses they have, the greater their chance of success will be.

Create your own checklist. On the left, list those things you should be looking for in the interview, and then make notes after each item. The answer should be pretty clear by the end of the interview. By the way, I always told them up front, if they decided to go forward with a career in real estate and I decided to hire them, they would need to sign up for their real estate class that day. As a result, most of the good candidates signed up that day and got started with their career.


Article courtesy of Judy LaDeur International

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