Continuing to Hire Unfit Sales Professionals? Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes When Choosing Candidates

By Shane Cotner

As a hiring manager or HR Professional, your company is counting on you to make sure that the candidates that you’re choosing to fill open sales positions, deliver on the promises they may make in their interviews. After all, the cost of training adds up, and a high turnover rate will have a significant impact on any company’s bottom line.

Even the most experienced hiring managers and HR reps will sometimes choose an unqualified candidate. When this happens, it is typically because they made one of three common mistakes during the interviewing process. Fortunately, these oversights, errors, or hasty mistakes can be easily prevented, so it doesn’t need to happen more than once. Here is a look at three common mistakes that are made that lead to unfit candidates being chosen, along with how to prevent this from happening in the future.

1. Your Interview Questions Are Predictable, Instead of Thought Provoking

One of the easiest ways to ensure that almost any sales candidate will glide through their interview, is through using generic interview questions. Any candidate seeking a sales position will be well prepared for questions such as: What are your greatest strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why are you the right person for this sales position? Do you work better as a team player or as an individual?

These questions are perfectly fine, they just don’t tell the whole story. Nearly all job candidates will be expecting these questions, and will therefore likely have canned responses. So, instead of asking such routine, predictable questions, ask specific questions, including how a candidate would handle a specific work related scenario.

2. Choosing a Sales Candidate Based on Numbers/Experience Over Fit with Company Culture

Company culture is of utmost importance to job seekers in today’s market-particularly millennials. In fact, having a thriving company culture is often vital to even attract the top sales candidates in the first place. In addition, having a vibrant company culture plays an integral role in retaining your top sales reps. So, ensuring that a candidate is going to fit well with your culture, is crucial. After all, sales numbers only tell part of the story.

Smart hiring managers will be sure to confirm what a candidate wants from their work environment, before offering a position based on numbers alone. The hiring manager will need to confirm with a candidate that they will be able to abide by company work hours, mandatory meetings, management style, or other company policies. In other words, having experience, and a track record of successful sales numbers is important, but only if the candidate also fits in with the overall company culture.

3. Trying to Save Time Through Offering a Short Interview Process

As a hiring manager, or HR Professional, there’s little doubt that at some point in your career, you’ll feel pressured to just fill a position, quickly. But, it’s worth remembering that more often than not, slow and steady will win the race. Trying to hurry along the

interview process leaves all kinds of room for oversights, such as neglecting reference/background checks, or not verifying important information. Although a long interview process may be off-putting to some candidates, those who truly want to be a part of your team, will show their loyalty and understand your need for a longer process.

At Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting, we understand you need the best sales managers and sales reps on your team to achieve and exceed your monthly, quarterly and annual sales goals. In today’s ever competitive market, sales companies simply can’t afford the costs associated with hiring unfit candidates. So, remember to avoid these common mistakes when interviewing for a new sales professional, or even better, invoke the services of a professional, experienced sales recruiting company to ensure you attract and retain, top quality sales reps and sales managers.

Shane Cotner is a is a professional sales recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or email

Candidates Getting Quicker to Reject Offers

by John Zappe

The candidate-driven market is here to stay and the pace at which candidates are rejecting offers is quickening.

MRINetwork’s most recent Recruiter Sentiment Study says 83% of the 333 responding recruiters describe the current employment market as candidate-driven. In three years, the percentage of recruiters who say candidates are in the driver’s seat has risen 29 points.

“It is definitely and without a doubt a candidate-driven market, however many employers are still laboring under the same processes as they did when it was an employer-driven market,” the twice yearly survey report notes, quoting one of the participating recruiters.

It takes the typical candidate more than three weeks to get an offer, with 41% of recruiters saying it takes even longer, up to nine or more weeks for an offer to be made. One in five candidates has to endure four or more interviews to get that offer.

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Why You Should Ask Questions Like A 2-Year Old

by James O. Pyle and Maryann Karinch

Interviewing candidates centers on a conversation — a give and take. Your ability to question well supports the organization, competence, and rapport building skills that you bring to that conversation. There are some specific ways to sharpen that ability.

To get an overview of the process, consider this mnemonic device, which reinforces the critical elements of good questioning

2 + 6 over F x 4 = Good Questioning

The parts mean this:

  • Question with the curiosity of a two-year-old
  • Use the six interrogatives: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How
  • Lay that on top of follow-up
  • Make sure to cover all four of the discovery areas: people, places, things, and events in time

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