How to Make the Right Sales Hire: 11 Rules for Ruling Out Bad Candidates

Devon-McDonald by

It’s a competitive market out there for sales hires, but that doesn’t mean you should settle.

In the last month I’ve been a part of several sales hire searches in our portfolio — six to be exact. And those six searches have been quite challenging. Some of the sales positions have been more junior (business development or outbound lead generation reps), some a bit more senior  (closing sales reps), but one thing is certain — it’s a very competitive market out there, regardless of the level of the sales role.

But just because it’s a tough market (there are not a lot of top sales people who are not looking to make a move), that doesn’t mean that you should ignore some serious red flags with the candidates that you do have in process. Unfortunately, I see this happening a lot. Particularly with those hiring managers who are exhausted by the search and just want to make the hire.

11 Rules for Ruling Out Sales Candidates

Want to make sure you make the right sales hire, instead? At the risk of seeming brash, here are my “rule out” rules for hiring managers:

  1. If you don’t get a follow up note from your candidate after an interview within 24 hours — rule him/her out.
  2. If your candidate picks up the phone with “Hello?” rather than “Hi, this is John speaking” — rule him/her out.
  3. If your candidate doesn’t look at your LinkedIn profile or know anything about your background prior to your first conversation — rule him/her out.
  4. If your candidate can’t tell you one of your company’s current customers or it’s clear they haven’t done their research — rule him/her out.
  5. If your candidate can’t tell you what metrics they were held accountable to in their last position — rule him/her out.
  6. If your candidate can’t articulate what the value proposition was of their most recent company — rule him/her out.
  7. If you get the slightest inclination that your candidate thinks they are too good for the position they are interviewing for — rule him/her out.
  8. If you give your candidate constructive criticism at any point in the interview process and they seem angry or defensive — rule him/her out.
  9. If you perform a reference check and your reference seems (event slightly) apprehensive about your candidate — rule him/her out.
  10. If your candidate asks you for an extension for accepting/declining the offer you have presented — rule him/her out.
  11. If you give a candidate an offer and they start getting incredibly high maintenance on you, and perhaps seem like a different person than they did in the interview process — rule him/her out. It’s not to0 late.

Holding Out for the Right Candidate: Why You Shouldn’t Succumb to Search Exhaustion

Call me Debby Downer for writing this post, but I promise you — it’s better to hold off on making the right hire, rather than making a mis-hire. You can’t afford to bring someone on to your team who is anything short of stellar. As I’ve written about before, an A+ candidate is someone who has personality, capability, drive, and discipline. That type of person will take you a lot further than a B- candidate who just so happens to have a resume that is a mirror image of your job description.

Remember, if you find your self consciously overlooking some of these red flags, you are setting yourself (and your team) up for serious frustrations in the future. Not to mention one bad egg can poison your team.

Check out this interesting infographic by Column Five Media, “The Staggering Cost of a Bad Hire“:

Staggering Cost of a Bad Hire

What other “rule out” rules do you have when hiring salespeople?