IQ tests in sales hiringWe don’t use IQ tests to evaluate sales people (we are more interested in predicting how they will behave and produce in certain situations), but we know that being smart usually is not a liability if a sales person has good sales DNA.

I was curious to see who is using IQ tests in sales hiring so I jumped on google and and didn’t find much. If anyone is using IQ in sales, they are not publishing their results.

IQ tests have been a popular way of testing intelligence since they were first introduced in the early 1900’s, in spite of the criticisms that they are not accurate. According to the American Psychological Association: “intelligence testing has also been accused of unfairly stratifying test-takers by race, gender, class and culture; of minimizing the importance of creativity, character and practical know-how; and of propagating the idea that people are born with an unchangeable endowment of intellectual potential that determines their success in life.” According to the Association, although the tests have evolved over the years, the consensus is that IQ tests should not be relied upon and while it may be logical to assume that people with higher IQ’s earn more, the research to support this theory is cloudy. Research scientist Jay Zagorsky has shown there does seem to be a correlation between IQ and income, but there seems to be no correlation between IQ and wealth – as if to say smart people can earn more, but don’t know what to do with their money.



According to wikipedia a 2002 study by Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis concluded that an individual’s location, inherited wealth, race, and schooling are more important as factors in determining income than IQ. That said many companies still use IQ tests and there are literally hundreds of tests available online.

Anyone thinking about using any of these online tests may want to take a look at this article in the Guardian about one person’s own experiences using online IQ tests. To make a long story short, blogger Dean Burnett took several tests which all indicated that he had very high or genius level intelligence which makes sense since he has a Phd in neuroscience. This would be a good endorsement for the ability of these tests to measure intelligence except for the fact that when he took the tests (all multiple choice), he selected answers entirely at random and very quickly (which triggers bonus points), so either his random responses were either surprisingly correct or the tests¬†are probably useless in predicting anything.

To your success!


Online IQ tests: are they valid?

American Psychological Association – Intelligent intelligence testing


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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