Skip to content

Should you be nice to sales candidates during the recruiting process?

Some interviewing guru’s believe that the best way to evaluate a person’s suitability for a high pressure sales role is to put them in stressful situations during the interview process to predict how they might react in real world sales scenarios.

If you are accustomed to recruiting perennial top performers who are gainfully employed, then you face a challenging dilemma: do you roll out the red carpet to make them comfortable with you and want to work for you or do you put them through a series of hard tests which may result in a loss of enthusiasm about joining your company?

The answer is both. To make sure you hire a top performer you need to perform an accurate and objective assessment and you need to “romance” the candidate so they choose to leave their current job. How do achieve that balance?

Here are three ways to deal with this:

1. Use Assessment Tests – leave the tough profiling to someone else, by using personality/behavioral trait assessments that will independently and objectively characterize your candidates. Compare the feedback to your own notes to make the right hire.

2. Hire a Recruiter – Candidates know that companies that can afford a retained recruiter are often the ones you want to work for so they will let the recruiter perform their various assessments to qualify candidates. Once that work is done, you get a fully qualified candidate and you can focus on enticing them to leave their current role.

3. Develop Rapport and then Perform the Evaluation – When a candidate is inducted into your screening process, start with a warm somewhat neutral stance, build the relationship and let them know this is a competition and you want to know why they think they should be selected to join your company. Most top sales performers will react positively to this challenge and see this as an opportunity to sell themselves at which point you get to ask them tough questions or put them through hoops.

You have to walk a fine line to properly assess a candidate while developing a relationship with them. It can’t be all roses, but on the other hand almost all great candidates are going to be working and have other options and won’t want to join your company if you alienate them, so unless you have an excess of great candidates beating down your door, you will probably want to work on making them want to join your company.

To your success!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

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.