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Interviewing salespeople for hire requires completion of a series of steps, each building on the previous one.  That’s why the preparation step is probably the most important:  Interviews cannot succeed without a solid foundation.  

Managers preparing to interview salespeople should be sure to include the following tasks if they are to be ready to face their prospective hires: 



1).  Make sure all the key components are in order, including the location, facilities, schedule, and participants.  You must decide who in the company should participate in the interview; then schedule accordingly. Other people’s perspectives are very important to consider.  Otherwise, you will fall into the trap of hiring people who reflect a mirror image of yourself. 


2).  Determine the profile of the job you are looking to fill.  Then develop a corresponding hiring template against which you will measure your candidates.  The template should include descriptions of desirable personal and professional attributes, combined with a description of behaviors, attitudes and techniques generally associated with highly successful employees in the field.  The template should also include specific qualities candidates need to have if they are to fit in with the rest of the team members.  


3).  Gather information in order to begin an applicant profile for each candidate, comparing their qualifications against the hiring template.  


4).  Preparation should also include uncovering the clues in candidates’ resumes, such as:  Does the candidate support teamwork?  Does he jump from job to job?  What are his current responsibilities?  Does he make lateral moves, moves up (promotions), or is he stagnant?  Does he fit the company culture? 


5).  Determine the questions you will ask to:  verify the resume; expand or clarify the candidate’s history; determine whether the candidate can match to the job profile; uncover the candidate’s support of teamwork; and probe the candidate’s productivity.  These questions should be planned and written down in advance.  


6).  Most managers spend less than ten minutes preparing for an interview, even though it may involve an ultimate expenditure of many thousands of dollars.  Sandler recommends an hour of prep for each hour of interviewing. 



Preparation is just the first of several steps required when hiring excellent salespeople – but it’s the most important step! 




Excerpted from Sandler’s Strategic Sales Management training program, ©1998 Sandler Systems Inc.  All rights reserved. 

photo creds: Ambro @




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