Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

As you grow your sales team, you have to zero in on an effective and efficient hiring process. Every sales team needs a repeatable model for sourcing quality candidates, interviewing them, assessing their suitability, and then hiring the best of the best. If you don’t have the hiring process locked down, you could find yourself wasting a lot of time chasing down bad candidates, or worse, making bad hiring decisions.

Perhaps it seems obvious, but the most important part of the hiring process is the interview, which you use to ensure that the candidate is a good fit for your team. For every candidate we offer a job to at InsightSquared, we interview them no fewer than 5 times. The interview process overall is broken into 3 stages: initial phone screen, first round in-person interviews, and final round interviews.

We look for very specific skills and traits at each stage of the interview process. Here is what you should look for in order to find the best possible sales reps for your team.

Phone Screen

After sorting through a pile of resumes and finding the most qualified applicants, we call matched candidates to do a preliminary phone screen. The purpose of the call is to see if the person can speak clearly, understands the job they’ve applied for, and can answer simple questions intelligently. It’s really just the baseline that they must pass to even get into the office for an interview. It’s not a grueling phone call – maybe just 20 minutes long – but it offers the interviewer a first introduction to the candidate and starts the process.

In-Person Round 1

The on-site interview is a much more intense process. It starts with a tour of the office to make candidates feel comfortable, introduce them to the various departments within our organization, and – hopefully – wow them a bit. I think we have a really cool culture and company, and I want candidates to see that in person.

As the interview continues, the person will meet with three different evaluators, usually at the managerial level, who have been trained on how to evaluate and assess the person’s performance objectively. We assess candidates for 6 key personality traits:

  • Intelligence
  • Coachability
  • Preparation
  • Drive (Resilience / Perseverance)
  • Professionalism
  • Sales / IS2 Desire

In order for the assessment to be truly objective, we conduct regression analysis on hiring manager’s assessments in these categories to see how they correlate with on-the-job performance. We look at metrics like meetings scheduled or deals closed and how they correlate with aspects like drive, ambition and coachability. You also need to have consistency across interviewers in how they rank candidates. If I’m testing someone on preparation for the job interview, my 8/10 candidate rating should be consistent with other people’s rankings, and we check this constantly. We’ve also written out the questions we like to ask and we use the Behavioral Event Interview style of questioning.

For example, one of the characteristics we test for is drive. Although on the surface it sounds like a somewhat amorphous trait, we have a detailed explanation of what drive means for us. There are specific things candidates can do to earn points in the drive category, like saying “Can I have this job?” or, “What do I need to do to convince you that I’m the best person for the job?” These direct, difficult-to-ask questions mean a very high drive score for a candidate. It illustrates an ability to face uncomfortable situations head-on, which is very important when you’re talking to people you don’t know over the phone.

Learn More About Tracking Sales Performance Metrics»

In-Person Round 2

We usually interview people in batches, bringing in 3 or 4 candidates to fill one open position so that it’s easier to compare them. If we decide there’s one or two candidates we’d like to extend offers to, we’ll bring them in for a second round. They’ll meet with senior management, including the CEO and VP of Sales, who will do a culture check and act as a veto if they don’t approve of the candidate.

For candidates that we’re strongly considering, we also have a non-interview time where they sit with reps on the team to experience the culture and day-to-day operations first-hand.This helps us to identify folks that will share in our culture and value it the same way we do. We’ve actually had people turn down offers because they self-selected for our culture, and didn’t think they would fit in.

 

In the right circumstance, everything comes together and a candidate makes it through all rounds of the interview process. Then, you’ll know they truly stand out. By creating an objective and highly-organized interview process, you’re more likely to find the best candidate for the job.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Kim

    Great list to keep in mind when hiring sales reps. It’s important to uncover multiple facets of each sales candidate to determine whether they will be a good fit both workload-wise and culture-wise.

    I saw between the rounds of in-person interviews, you also use a sales aptitude test to measure the candidate’s drive, which has been found to be a good indicator of future success. Which personality tests to you use?

    I agree that when you have filtered down the final candidates, having them come in to shadow is a great way for both sides to be confident whether that is the right place for the sales rep or not. It helps to eliminate any surprises on exactly what they will be doing and a realistic view of the work environment.

    Once again, great article. Thanks for sharing.

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