Sigh! That burdensome feeling you get from an unexpected team vacancy. The burden of extra work you and your team will have to shoulder. Maybe even the stress of missing important deadlines or targets.

That’s exactly how Simon, a car dealership Sales Manager felt when faced with the task of recruiting and onboarding a new sales consultant. That is until he ran into Jo in the staff kitchen. Jo was the receptionist and after hearing Simon’s troubles told him about her brother. Darren was looking for a job and even had automotive selling experience. Simon couldn’t believe his luck- the prospect of no lengthy recruitment process and very little training was a dream come true. What’s more Darren was available for an interview immediately and all being well could start straight away.

Simon later acknowledged the only reason he wouldn’t have given Darren the job, was if he hadn’t showed up. He did and was working on the shop floor the following week. Problem solved. Or was it the beginning of something else?

Well, turns out Simon’s problems had just begun. Darren couldn’t achieve his sales targets, rarely showed up on time, always had an excuse and despite additional training and coaching couldn’t perform at an acceptable standard. It was impacting the rest of the team, overall sales performance was down, there was team conflict and even customer complaints were starting to surface. Simon was now feeling the heat from his boss. The stress was building.

What seemed like a quick fix, turned into a major problem.

Simon was forced to terminate Darren, but rather than change his hiring approach he simply employed another Darren. Wind forward a few months, Simon’s now looking for work.

Sadly this isn’t an isolated case. Too many times I hear this story repeated throughout dealerships across the country.

How can you stop the hire fast to fail fast approach?

The first place to start is right back at the beginning. But here’s the spoiler alert you need to take a step back before you can take a much bigger stride forward. Now for the good news, we’ve done the hard work for you.

Let’s dig in.

The goal is not to get distracted by the headlines and by that I mean those ‘credentials’ bolded in large sized font in a resume – the job title, the company. Leave that aside and instead define what capabilities underpin the role and how can you best assess these.

What you should care about is – which candidates possess the capabilities to actually do the job.

Think of this like a super-condensed job description, containing only 5-6 key capabilities for each role. Then do this for each role in the dealership.

Sounds like a lot of work. It is and that’s why we’ve pulled it together for you.

After reviewing dealership job descriptions and testing this in the field we’ve identified a total of 22 capabilities across the entire dealership. 5 of these are core, the rest are specific to the individual roles.

So here they are. Capability profiles for more than 14 roles in your dealership. Roles found in each department including Sales, Service, Finance and Insurance, Administration and Back office Support.

Let’s kick off with what we believe are five dealership DNA or core capabilities that each role in the dealership should possess.

Customer Service– This one’s a no-brainer, you’re in the business of retail and every role in the dealership needs to be obsessed with delivering a superior customer experience.

Results Orientation – if you’re looking for dealership growth you need employees who can achieve efficient, timely and quality results.

Communications skills– The ability to communicate with colleagues, superiors, suppliers and of course customers, whether in person, via phone, email or social media is a must

Interpersonal skills– The ability to get on with others in the dealership is central to an efficient, effective and harmonious workplace.

Integrity– We believe you should be looking for employees who are honest and loyal even if that means they need to make difficult personal choices.

In addition, specific for each role we’ve included other important but unique capabilities.

For example many roles have a technical aspect, it could be knowledge of a business discipline like accounting, marketing or human resources or product knowledge about finance and insurance or automotive parts for example.

Many roles in the dealership such as Service Advisors, work in busy departments or are required to meet regular deadlines such as Accountants, so for these roles organisational skills are critical.

When it comes to management positions in your dealership we’ve curated a list of skills- leadership, developing others, people management and strategic skills, you should be looking for. These should then be combined with capabilities found in the roles that they manage. So a Sales Manager capability profile is a combination of those listed for a manager plus those defined for a sales consultation.

More than 75 questions to assess if candidates have the capabilities to make your dealership great.

So now you know what capabilities you require for each role, but how do you assess if a candidate actually has them? Another big job! Once again we’ve saved you the hard work.

For each role and for each capability we’ve generated assessment question(s). Providing you with a workable number, around 5-6 questions, you can ask candidates. This will provide a very clear picture of how capable they are to perform the role.

Let’s work through an example, using the role of Sales consultant.

Firstly we’ve listed the 5 core dealership capabilities and added to this 2 additional ones unique to the role of Sales Consultant.

Secondly, from the library of more that 75 questions we’ve assigned 7 questions relevant to the roles of Sales Consultant.

Below is the list of questions you would ask of candidates applying to the role of Sales Consultant.


Capability Questions to ask
Core competencies Customer Service You’re attending to a guest who is about to sign a contract for a new car purchase. However, before you can complete this transaction a good guest of yours demands to see you immediately about a serious problem with his new car delivery. How do you manage this situation?
Results Orientation Today is the last day of the month and you’ve only got 1 more sale to achieve your monthly sales target. What do you do?
Communication skills A guest is due to receive delivery of her new vehicle the day she returns from an overseas trip. However, you’ve just found out that her vehicle will not be ready for delivery as you’ve made an error. You can only contact her by email. Draft an email response to her.
Interpersonal skills You feel strongly that a co-worker from another department is pulling down your performance. Your manager now wants to meet with you to discuss your below target results. How do you prepare for this performance meeting with your manager?
Integrity How would you handle a situation where a customer has asked for some service or product that is in violation of the company’s policies and is against the better interests of the company?
Role specific capabilities Selling Skills


A couple with young children enter the dealership. They immediately start looking at a car in the showroom. As the sales person you approach them. Describe what your intentions are and exactly what you would say to them?


It’s been a tough first week of the month. Not one sale. You’ve spoken to plenty of leads but not one conversion. You’re feeling flat and deflated. How do you pick yourself up?

These are designed as aptitude questions, screening candidates for interview shortlist.

That’s not to say they can’t be used at interview. Some questions eg “ Draft an email ….” could be given to candidates to prepare prior and present at interview.

Here you can download the capability profile for each role in your dealership along with more than 75 assessment questions.

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Back to Simon. Had he first considered the capabilities required for the role of sales consultant along with the right assessment questions to ask he could have avoided repeating his mistake of carelessly assuming having prior experience was a proxy for having capability to perform the role.

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