A surprisingly high number of sales people aren’t well prepared when they attend job interviews, perhaps because they don’t do it that often, but when you see one who makes a great presentation, it should give you some insight into how they will prepare for customer meetings. While this is not always the case – there is an old saying that the best sales job occurs when a sales person is interviewing for a job – there are several indicators that tell you how seriously a sales candidate takes their performance and career.

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1. They Have Done Their Homework – First, if the person has researched your company, articles and exec backgrounds so they speak knowledgeably and make relevant references, you can ensure they not only really want the job, but may use the same techniques to get sales through the door once they’re employed with you.

2. Thorough – If he or she is able to demonstrate their qualifications against your job description line by line, this shows you how thorough the candidate is. You can be assured they’ll leave no stone unturned when pursuing a client.

3. Adding Value – In the interview, if your candidate makes suggestions about how you can succeed in relevant territories and target markets, and any changes you can make to improve things, you can see that this candidate knows how to put his or her work experience to use for a company. The candidate will likely be consistent in pitching new ideas and improving the workforce morale from the rep side.

4. Clarity of Purpose  – If he or she is clear about their own wants and career plan and expectations of an employer they would choose to serve, then you know you’re working with a candidate who will be forthcoming about problems and will work with you to create a positive environment for the team.

5. Qualifying the Opportunity –  Is your candidate organized?  Do they present themselves and their relevant sales accomplishments clearly and compellingly, and ask qualifying questions to see if this is the kind of place they want to work? It’s a good sign that this isn’t someone who is looking for just any job – they are a long-term worker looking for a long term situation.
6. Positive Energy – Does the candidate show energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm? If so, you can bet he or she will bring that energy into sales calls.

7. Follow-Up and Follow Through – Do they follow up with emails to thank you for your time? Are they proactive with relevant references? If so, you can expect the same behavior with potential sales.

It’s often difficult to find sales reps who can become long-term members of your team. By gauging attitude, professionalism, and other factors during the interview process, you can make sure that a good interview turns into a great working relationship for both you and your potential employee. A sales team is only as good as its weakest link, so weeding out potential weak links before even hiring them is the best possible way to keep your team performing at top levels.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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