When you interview sales candidates, you can easily determine years of experience and education level just by asking. And assuming the resumes you’ve selected from the pool are accurate, you can skim those documents for critical information about past employers and general sales records. But if all those generic, accessible metrics are more or less equal, and every candidate you call for an interview looks about the same on paper, how can you take your assessment to the next level during your in-person conversations? Here are a few traits to look for during your sales interviews.

Genuine warmth

If your sales candidate is cold fish who cares only about commissions and driving an expensive car, take a closer look. Your leads will see exactly what you see, so if you look at your candidate and see nothing but smoke and mirrors and empty hustle, so will they. Look for candidates who actually think about what they’re doing on a daily basis and seem to genuinely care about their relationships, their product, their words and their actions.

Concern for strategy and technique

Choose sales candidates who are always looking for ways to improve. Too often, energetic sales pros strive to improve and excel until the day they become complacent, which often happens when they get comfortable and the bar of expectation becomes set in place. Look for candidates who constantly shape and refine their approach, who are open to advice and feedback, and who actively seek mentors and role models, even as they approach middle age and the senior level.

Adaptability and flexibility

Technology changes, communication styles and platforms evolve, business models shift, and expectations change along with them. Can your candidates effortlessly keep up when the rules shift? Or do they cling to outdated methods? When you need to change plans, reschedule calls, realign goals or hit reset on projects, can your candidate change course without blinking an eye? Ask your interviewee to describe their adaptability by telling you a story. Ask them to tell you about a past event in which they were challenged and had to demonstrate high levels of agility and flexibility.


Sales candidates need to think on their feet and provide information and context in order to maintain relationships and close deals. When your candidates need to obtain critical information or go the extra mile for a contact, do they freeze up? Or do they act quickly to obtain the resources they need?

For more on how to find sales candidates who can start contributing as soon as they join the team, contact the sales staffing experts at Extension.


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