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Pre-Employment Tests, Interview Skills & Hiring
ASSESSING & EVALUATING SALES REP APPLICANTS: Pre-Employment Test Research + More Methods Help You Hire Productive Sales Reps
By Michael Mercer, Ph.D.
Aug 6, 2014, 14:12

Hiring productive Sales Reps is super-important for every company’s financial success.  As Henry Ford said, “No one has a job until someone sells something.”


Unfortunately, sales rep applicants often use their sales skills to connive their way into jobs on which they end up failing or doing poorly. 


Fortunately, pre-employment tests plus other four other applicant assessment methods increase your odds you hire highly productive sales reps. 





Research I did on pre-employment tests scores of superb sales reps clearly indicate qualities of terrific sales reps you want to hire.  Specifically, my research show terrific sales reps typically get these pre-employment test scores: 

>  High test scores on Money Motivation, Power Motivation, Teamwork,
      Poised Reaction to Pressure, and Optimism

>  Moderate test scores on Friendliness, Assertiveness, and
      Feeling-Focused vs. Fact-Focused


Intelligence pre-employment test scores depend on what level of intelligence is required for the sales rep job in each company.  For instance, some companies’ best sales reps require high-level intelligence.  In those companies, their successful sales reps get high scores on intelligence tests, e.g., Problem-Solving, Vocabulary, Arithmetic, Grammar, and Handling Small Details.  For example, the best sales reps in one particular famous high-tech company get such high intelligence test scores.  They need high-level intelligence to sell their products and services. 


However, pre-employment intelligence test scores in other companies can be more average.  In fact, my research continually finds that in most companies, the best sales reps typically get average intelligence test scores.  That is the level of brainpower required to succeed in sales in most companies.   




In addition to pre-employment tests, you should use four other sales rep evaluation methods.


First, does applicant’s work history indicate applicant will feel enthused about selling your company’s products.  Did the applicant’s work history show examples of interest in selling your company’s products or services?


Second, do in-depth job interview that resembles a polite interrogation.  Each interview should last approximately two hours.  Do not get charmed by applicants who use their “Sales Training 101” skills on you!  Instead, ask hard-hitting interview questions to assess sales talents, such as persistence, work ethic, desire for high earnings, diplomacy, honesty, and handling resistance and work difficulties. 


Third, do a sales role-play.  You play a prospective buyer, while the applicant plays a sales rep.  Tell the applicant try to sell you something.  Use this role-play to assess or evaluate the job applicant on crucial sales skills, such as developing rapport, uncovering prospect’s needs, presenting solutions, handling objections, asking for the order, and following-up.


Fourth, do a realistic job observation.  Have the sales rep applicant tag along with one of your sales reps for one-half day.  Then, the sales applicant can see how much they may like or dislike your company’s sales job.  Also, the sales rep the applicant accompanies will give you insights into the applicant’s possible strengths and weaknesses in your company’s sales environment.




Use pre-employment tests, work history evaluation, in-depth job interviews, sales role-play, and realistic job observation to assess and evaluate sales rep applicants.  If an applicant does well in all five assessment methods, then offer the person a job.  However, if the applicant rates poorly in any of these five evaluation methods, then (a) take a match, (b) burn that applicant’s resume, and (c) find better sales rep applicants. 



Michael Mercer, Ph.D., created 3 pre-employment tests to assess job applicants.  His 3 “Forecaster(tm) Tests” help companies (1) hire great employees and (2) avoid hiring lousy employees.  Dr. Mercer authored 6 books, including “Hire the Best & Avoid the Rest(tm).”  Also, he delivers entertaining and informative speeches.  You can talk to Dr. Mercer at 847-382-0690, or read about his 3 pre-employment tests, 6 books and speeches