Most sales managers love the idea of having some or many young and eager reps on their team that they can take under their wing and mould into loyal and strong performers, but finding the “diamond in the rough” is risky business at best since entry level candidates have little or no work history to probe or to offer proof that they have what it takes to be successful.

Many companies use psychometric tests and other types of online screening tools for evaluating and selecting for entry level sales positions. These can be quite effective, particularly if used not as a screening tool but when combined with other types of interview and candidate assessment techniques.

(Note – although Peak does believe that psychometric tests provide useful insight into the nature of a candidate, we do not use them to determine who we will interview. Instead we use the tests to confirm or challenge our own observations)

So what are some of the other techniques that can be useful for evaluating entry level hires?

Resume – Does the candidate carry a well written and well structured resume? Do they know the right things to say and say it well? Many aspiring professionals have poorly written resumes, in spite of the fact there are extensive resources to help create a slick looking resume, so when you see a well crafted resume you need to stop and pay attention to see if it actually represents the candidate’s writing skills and more importantly achievements, or was written by someone else.

Internships – Did the candidate find work in their field either during school breaks or after completing school? This is a sign of maturity, discipline and a commitment to build themselves. Good insight can be garnered by calling former managers to learn about the work habits of the candidate.

Volunteering – has the candidate lent their time to good causes?  This is also a sign of maturity as well as integrity and signals that the person attempted to help others and develop their own skills while they were trying to land a job.

School Associations – There are plenty of opportunities to join students associations at school. Has the candidate taken on leadership roles at school? This is a sign of maturity and commitment to success.

Summer Jobs – By the time a person graduates from school they have often worked for months at a time in 2-3 summer jobs. Speak to their former employers to gain insight into what the candidate accomplished and it was like to manage them.

Part-Time Jobs & Freelancing – What sales skills did the candidate demonstrate in obtaining these roles? What effort has the candidate made to be employed? How have they performed in these roles?

These techniques will help make sure you find the diamond in the rough sales rep you are seeking.

PS-  Once they are on-board don’t forget to aggressively on-board them. On boarding is even more important with junior sales hires than with more seasoned hires, so make sure your program is comprehensive, particularly the mentoring piece. See our free eBook: The First 90 Days – Your Guide to Making New Sales Hires Produce Fast.


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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