Why It’s Time to Move Beyond Personality Tests When Hiring


Employers have long used sales personality tests to understand more about candidates who apply to work at their organization. It may be to time to move beyond simple sales personality tests when hiring. The best comprehensive assessments are designed to uncover what motivates candidates and how they are likely to react in a variety of workplace situations. This information will help you hire a sales professional who will succeed in your organization.

Why We Need Assessments When Hiring Sales Reps

As a post on Indeed​.com notes, the automated applicant tracking systems we use today leave little room for individuality. If hiring managers relied solely on the data points contained in the ATS, they’d miss the chance to bring great employees into the organization. And they’d be left with little insight into the people they do hire.

If a manager hires the wrong sales rep, they’re faced with a lengthy and expensive process to show them the door. Meanwhile, sales aren’t happening, and the rest of the department could be getting demoralized.

A comprehensive sales assessment system reveals an individual’s basic behavioral tendencies in addition to decision-​making tendencies. And you can also determine which candidates are more likely to revert to toxic behavior in some scenarios.

How Psychometrics Enrich Assessments

Psychometric testing can help you determine what’s going on behind the scenes of a beautifully crafted resume. And it can help you prepare to effectively interview a top candidate. If psychometric testing sounds a little too advanced for your organization, remember that the Society for Human Resource Management estimates around 18% of companies use psychometric testing in the hiring process. Analysts expect a 10% increase in that figure in 2021.

How does psychometric testing expand upon sales personality testing? The assessment results give you a profile for a candidate and indications about which sales role they’re best suited for. To understand how a candidate will perform in your position and in your organization, ask interview questions based on their profile. 

Understanding Motivation

For example, some sales reps tend to give away too much when they’re negotiating. Under the surface, these individuals are generally motivated to give in to what another person is asking for. The outcome from that type of negotiating will hurt the profit margin for your department. Other reps will be super tough negotiators and refuse to yield during negotiations. This isn’t an ideal tendency either. The best motivational level for a sales rep during negotiations hovers near being helpful and supportive. If your top candidate scores as too accommodating on their assessment, address the topic in the interview. Ask how they handled a past negotiating session and how they felt about the outcome.

If their answer doesn’t resonate with you, check their coachability scores. You may need to work with this person to improve some aspects of how they handle the sales process. Individuals who score high on coachability will be more open to your suggestions and may make a good fit with the job and your company.

Depending on the type of sales organization you run, you may want to hire people who have a strong sense of self-​direction. If your top candidate’s assessment results show a low sense of self direction, proceed carefully. They may be far more interested in leaving a position they don’t like than in actually working for your company.

Using Assessment Results to Coach Your New Hire

When managers start working with a new employee, they often aren’t sure about the best way to communicate with them. Does the employee prefer less direct questions? Or do they feel better if you get right to the point? A good assessment system will reveal these preferences and include communication tips to guide your initial discussions and begin the work relationship with your new employee on a positive note.

Move Beyond Sales Personality Tests When Hiring

Our research shows that 49% of sales managers use sales personality tests when hiring. More sales managers will likely expand the types of assessments they’re using when hiring as technology evolves. Psychometrics is a good place to start.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.