Interview Techniques to Help You Hire Exceptional Funeral Professionals


Homesteaders' industry-leading account executive program provides value to our funeral home customers, reinforcing our commitment to developing mutually beneficial relationships and promoting the value of funeral service.

As Vice President of Field Sales, I am tasked with empowering the Homesteaders sales team to better serve our customers, provide individualized attention and deliver solutions to issues that matter most to funeral professionals. Because our account executives are such an essential part of the services we offer our funeral home partners, we've developed processes to ensure that we hire sales experts who share our values.

Similarly, funeral home professionals have a lot at stake when seeking to hire new talent. In addition to determining which candidates possess the skills and knowledge needed to fulfill the job responsibilities, you also have to identify the people who best fit your funeral home’s goals, values and culture.

Using behavior-based interview techniques similar to what we use to select new account executives can help you zero in on how candidates will respond to various scenarios in the workplace. These questions delve into how candidates handled specific job-related situations in the past, which will help you decide if their experience and personal characteristics will make them successful members of your team in the future. After all, past performance is often an indicator of future success.

Effective use of a behavior-based approach requires the interviewer to structure very pointed questions to elicit responses aimed at determining if the candidate possesses the characteristics and experiences you need. You want to make a good decision based on these pointed questions to ensure that the person offered the position has the best opportunity to succeed.

It is important to focus on discovering how an applicant acted in specific employment-related situations. To do this, you need to ask the candidate to describe past behavior and experiences, rather than inviting a list of accomplishments. In general, behavior-based interview questions begin the following way:

  • Tell me about a time…
  • Describe to me…
  • What did you do when…
  • Give us an example…
  • How did/do you…
  • Describe one obstacle…

You'll notice that none of these questions can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" – rather, successful candidates will need to describe situations and events at length, allowing you to get a more complete understanding of their past experiences.

It's important to plan ahead for a behavior-based interview, writing out your questions in advance, taking thorough notes and asking follow-up questions whenever necessary. It's also a good idea to allow for some silence during these interviews. Often, candidates will fill any gaps in conversation, allowing you to learn even more about their personal and professional backgrounds.

By mastering behavior-based interview techniques, you’ll be equipped to gather the information you need to hire employees who will add value for your client families, workplace and bottom line. You’ll also learn effective ways to review your new staff members’ progress after they have been hired, so you can help them continuously improve the service your funeral home provides.


Dan Lodermeier is the VP – Field Sales for Homesteaders Life Company.

This post has been adapted from an article that originally appeared in the myHomesteaders newsletter. To learn how you can subscribe to this digital publication, contact your account executive.