June 22, 2021

Evaluating Sales Candidates: Separating the Pretenders from the Real Thing


Having a strong business development function is crucial to growing your company, but anyone who has hired salespeople before knows it can be a challenge. Everyone can talk the talk, but how do you separate the pretenders from the real thing?

We asked sales leaders from some of our clients that very question. Here’s what they had to say:

“Candidates who are the ‘real deal’ will talk the talk when it comes to sales chops. If asked ‘how do you prioritize your pipeline?’ they’ll be able to clearly articulate exactly how they determine who to reach out to first, second, etc…, and why.

Folks might say that they like to make calls, or that they like to help others, but people who understand sales know that it’s all about the activity and the numbers. They have a thought-out and methodical approach to filling the pipeline and staying on top of prospects for the close.

I also find that people who get sales demonstrate their skills during the interview with questions like, ‘what reservations do you have about me, if any?’ or ‘what are the next steps?’. It can actually put the interviewer on the hot seat, but that’s great! Using every interaction to move toward the close is a fundamental skill for successful salespeople.”

Alisha Johnson | Manager, Sales Development


“When interviewing candidates, I need them to put their stats/numbers into actionable examples. Depending on the role they are applying for on my team, they need to prove what they can do. I accomplish this by asking them to complete communication exercises (written/verbal), mock calls or sales pitches, and more. Sure, numbers are great, but numbers can also be faked. I want to see you in action! Do you have a natural talent to sell or do you require a little coaching to be that rockstar? It all gives me an indication of your confidence and your capabilities.”

Stephanie Benavidez |  Senior Director of Sales Enablement


“Having worked at the intersection of technology and travel for 10 years now, my favorite question to ask reps is, ‘What excites you about selling to the travel vertical?’ You wouldn’t believe how many answer with a short, ‘oh because I LOVE to travel’ or share tales from their favorite trip. Most people I know love to travel and have many memorable travel tales, but I’ve met many people who don’t like selling to the travel vertical because it’s hard, nuanced, and can be very slow to adopt new technology. Candidates who share stories of their previous travel partners, selling wins, and especially losses typically resemble the “real thing” and catch my attention.”

Johnston Gilfillan |  Sales Manager


If you have any questions, feel free to reach me at ali@hirewell.com.

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