How to Effectively Screen Sales Candidates

Evaluating sales candidates can be one of the most challenging tasks because candidates are trained and skilled on how to present.  They know what to say, what not to say, how to read people and present the best features and benefits about themselves!

While screening may be a step in your hiring process, I propose that every step have a screening element built into it.

hiring funnelScreening examples:

  • Your ad should have a previous income screener like, “Most have previously made a minimum of $85,000 where more than 50% of your income came from commissions or bonuses.”  Don’t talk to anyone that does not meet the minimum income criteria.
  • When you set an appointment to talk to someone, have them call you. Here is my typical email response: “Paul thanks for your interest. Let’s talk this Thursday at 4:00pm CST.  It is best if you call my cell at 515-360-5674.”  You would be surprised the amount of time I save by candidates that commit to a time and cannot seem to keep the appointment.
  • Ask the candidate to take an assessment early in your hiring process.

Here is an actual email response my client received in response to his question on whether or not the candidate had taken both of the assessments as instructed:

Two weeks ago, I completed the sale-related assessment.  (Meaning he decided he was not going to do both assessments) This was a fair test and reasonable.

Over the decades, I have come to put little credence in “Personality Tests.”  A good employer will be able to discern integrity, morality and other issues through the interview process, professional references and US crime report records, etc. 

Having talked with many colleagues and professionals over the decades, including recruiters and relatives in the HR field, about employers using personality tests, the conclusion is that greater than 50% of the time the employer is hard to work for.

This is not to say I’m not interested in working for you. Although, I was hoping the position was more in the direction of management than “cold calling” as the latter is difficult in assessing measurable effectiveness and success.  

To which our client thanked him for his interest and moved on.


People will reveal who they really are and how they will really act if you simply ask them to do something.  By doing so, they will comply or they won’t; you will see if they are articulate or if they are not; and you can gauge their level of engagement.

Think about how your best customers expect your salespeople to engage with them and build steps into your hiring process that simulate those engagements.

You will never see a candidate better than when they are interviewing.  Does your hiring process get them to reveal their best?


With regards to assessing sales candidates, I suggest using the Objective Management Group Confidential Candidate Screening. It is the only sales executional assessment available.  With 96% accuracy, it will predict what sales behaviors your candidate is capable of executing on.  To register for a free sales candidate assessment, click here.