Hiring new sales reps is a perennially difficult task. After all, salespeople are “people” people, good at making others feel engaged and energized. None of this means the candidate who’s just schmoozed you has the drive, grit, tact, intelligence, or discipline to be a top producer for your company in the long term. Nor does it mean that he or she is right for your team.

How can you make sure you’re picking the right team members before investing in them? How do you make your selection process really count? We’ve developed tips for successfully interviewing sales reps:

  1. Don’t just glance at the candidate’s resume. Prepare. Read the materials, and plan what to ask.
  2. Probe. Don’t just ask about work history, experience, and performance—items that are right on the resume. If the candidate reports he met quota, find out how much of that was a result of his direct efforts. Ask about a top deal. What obstacles did he need to overcome? What made it a successful sale?
  3. Don’t stop with successes. Ask about regrets, too. What does he feel like he could have done better? Ask about a lost sale and lessons learned. You will learn about the quality of his character—and the refinement of his internal thought process.
  4. Don’t get carried away talking. Listen.
  5. Get the candidate to discuss non-monetary motivators. You’ll need to evaluate whether your company’s role will be conducive to their success.
  6. Consider testing. Sales involves emailing, letter writing, and thinking quickly on your feet. (We will elaborate on writing tests in a future blog post!)
  7. Be a skeptic. Don’t take anything material at face value. If your candidate’s bragging about her contact list, get the names and numbers for five of his strongest contacts. One time, I walked a company through several rounds with a candidate who seemed great, and he bragged about his contact list (a selling point for that job). Then I called. The first three people didn’t know him. The fourth said he’d never do business with him. When in doubt, strike them out, I say.

Hire the right sales reps and increase sales!

Jennifer Gluckow blogs regularly at Sales In A New York Minute.