One Piece of Recruitment Advice to Ignore

Hiring new agents? Focus less on their failures and more on how well they bounce back.

April 17, 2015

One of the best new agents I ever hired was a man named Nick Crankovich. He was a fearless prospector, clients loved him, and most importantly, he sold a lot of real estate. He made my company look good, and was the kind of team member anyone would be glad to have.

And yet, when Nick stepped into my office that first day, he had just come off a series of failed interviews with three of my fellow board members. Had I followed all the recruiting advice I’d been given at the time, I might have passed him over too. He was new to the country and still learning English, and he had no sales experience – in real estate or otherwise.

Yet I believed he could be a great salesperson, and he proved me right.

How did I know? I’ll explain. But first, consider the following maxim, and then allow yourself to cast it aside:

Past behavior is the best predictor of future results.

This idea, widely popularized by TV’s Dr. Phil, has become deeply ingrained in our popular culture. It’s also the basis behind the technique called behavioral interviewing, which has been touted as a more accurate predictor of future success than traditional lines of questioning.

But once someone is deemed a failure, are they always a failure? Recently, experts including Leadership IQ author Mark Murphy have pointed out the inherent flaws of many typical behavioral interview questions. And while most experts seem to agree that past results can reliably forecast future results in predictable, repeatable situations, “predictable” and “repeatable” aren’t words anyone uses to describe the workday of a real estate practitioner.

In Silicon Valley’s startup culture, where life can be similarly unpredictable, some of the most prevalent buzzwords right now are “fail fast” and “fail forward.” Or, in other words, assume that failure is part of the process, and just get it over with as quickly as you can.

In real estate sales, the path to success is bumpy, uncharted, and paved with challenges, risks, and rejection. The same approach that won you five new listings yesterday can end with 10 doors slammed in your face tomorrow. Or vice versa.

So when you find someone at your door telling you their last interview, their last job, or even their last career didn’t end well, don’t be so quick to assume their fate in real estate is similarly sealed. They may be telling you they’ve failed at one thing, but what they’re showing you is that they’ve succeeded at something else: bouncing back. And that’s what I was looking for when I interviewed Nick.

The resiliency that carried him to my office after three failed interviews was the same trait that earned him more FSBO and expired listings than any of my other agents. His greatest strength was written boldly on his resume — all I needed to do was look between the lines.

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Mark Leader is a national speaker, author, and founder of Leader’s Choice, a real estate training and coaching company. Over the course of 20 years, Mark and his team of trainers and coaches have helped tens of thousands of sales professionals raise their production and increase their revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars. As a sales professional, Mark averaged 93 closings for eight consecutive years. Learn more about Mark at