Hiring A Sales Professional? 4 Interview Red Flags

Great sales professionals are hard to find. 

According to the Manpower Group’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey, sales jobs are the second-hardest position to fill worldwide.

It takes an average company an all-time high of 27 days to make a new hire, you might be tempted to extend an offer to any candidate who seems like they’d reasonably meet the mark.
But before you start writing up an offer for a candidate you like, take a step back and a deep breath. Hiring the wrong person for the job can be costly and if they end up leaving or getting fired, it’ll take even more time and resources to replace then than hiring the right person in the first place. Your best course of action is keeping your standards high and only giving offers to the most qualified candidates.

Wondering which red flags to look for? Read on for 4 warning signs you shouldn’t move forward with a candidate for a sales position.

1) They don’t really know much about your company

Pay close attention to the candidates respons when you ask what they know about your organization. If they can only give you a short list of details lifted straight from your website, it’s a major red flag. 

Sales professionals need to do research on each and every prospect before they reach out. If a potential hire can’t be bothered to dig into your company’s background when a job is on the line, the chances are that they’ll do so in a lower-stakes situation are almost nil.

2) They’ve been at current job for less than six months

The average ramp-up time for a new-hire sales professional is about six months. 
With that in mind, you should be wary when a candidate has spent less than half a year in their position. Also check how long they have stayed with their previous employers. Why would they leave when they’re hitting their stride? Maybe the candidate thinks they’re going to fail in their current role once they’re on full quota, so they’re cutting their losses. In other cases, sales professionals leave because they can’t see eye to eye with their employers, or they’ve decided they don’t want to put in the time and energy to familiarise themselves with a highly complex product. 

Even if a candidate is a strong sales professional, consistent job hopping should be a red flag. You don’t want to waste valuable time and resources training someone who’s not committed to your company. Plus, frequent turnover hurts your team’s culture and brings down morale. 

3) They can’t accept Feedback

If a candidate can’t accept any constructive criticism and then show it, you should think twice before brining them on board. Ask the candidate how they think they did. Their answer tells him how self-analytical they are: Do they mention specifics about what went well and where they could improve?

If they make the effort in incorporate their feedback in the second round of interviews, you can weigh that in their favour. However, if the candidate has a hard time even absorbing your comments, you might come to the conclusion that they’re not coachable enough.

4) They don’t have any  questions for you

After you’ve finished asking your questions, does the candidate ask you some thoughtful questions of their own? Good sales professionals are innately curios. Digging into their prospects pain points and desires comes naturally to them, since they’re driven to learn everything they can.
That’s why a candidate who doesn’t pose any questions should should set off alarms in your head. As VP of Sales at SmartBear Software Jim Schuchart explains, “I don’t necessarily care what you are curious about, so much as that you are curious.”

By identifying sales professionals who won’t cut it before you hire them, you’ll save money, time, and other valuable resources. A candidate might look good on paper, but if  they exhibit any of these four signs, move on to the next one!

Robert Peterson