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How to Measure Motivation and Desire…Before You Hire

If you were to ask most sales managers about the most important attribute they are looking for in a candidate for a job, you would probably hear high motivation; disciplined; energetic; hard working.

The central theme is effort! Most managers will hire a rep without experience or industry knowledge who is willing to give 110 percent effort. If we could measure a sales rep’s effort before he or she was hired, we would have one very popular product on our hands. We can’t predict the future; however, there are several practical ideas that will dramatically increase your success by measuring a candidate’s effort, creativity, and energy before you hire.

The Presentation: After the first or second interview of a candidate you are favoring, hand them one of your product brochures. Explain that you would like them to come back in a few days to sell you the product. Don’t give any more information. You want to see how much effort they put into finding out about your company, product, needs, etc. Then in the next interview, you can measure the following:

Amount of research, time, and effort put into the presentation;
Creativity: what is unique about their approach? And
Selling skills: this is the perfect time to measure sales skills, start to finish.
If you’re interviewing an experienced sales rep, you might ask them to sell you the product he or she is currently marketing. You can still use your own product as part of this exercise to measure preparation and effort prior to the next interview. The key in both situations is to measure communication skills, sales skills, and effort. Of course, if the candidate doesn’t come back to sell your product, you’ve got your answer.

30-day action plan: On the next interview, have the candidate bring back a detailed outline of what they would do to be successful the first 30 days after training. This will evaluate the effort they spend thinking and writing about their activities and goals, and it will illuminate their thinking about what it takes to get the job done.

Why Them? Why Us? The first part of this assignment is to have them list ten reasons they feel qualified for the job and what they can offer your company. Then have them list several reasons they want to work with your company, why your specific industry, and why sales.

Field Travel: After the second or third interview, have the candidate travel in the field for a half-day with an experienced sales rep. Make sure you select one of your better reps and have them make a typical day of calls, i.e., canvassing, customer visits, appointments. This is a great chance to expose the candidate to a realistic view of the job and at the same time give your sales rep some recognition as a role model. The candidate may open up to the sales rep (a peer) about questions and concerns that might never come up during the office interview.

I believe involving a senior sales rep in the employment process helps the candidate make a better career decision – which helps reduce your short-term turnover.

There is nothing worse than hiring someone and investing much energy, time, and money only to see it go to waste several months later for lack of internal motivation and a strong work ethic. Managers have used these four methods for great success, allowing them to measure motivation before hiring the candidate. When a candidate puts much energy and effort into getting hired, you will usually see those attributes demonstrated on the job.

Barry Farber consults with a variety of industries to help them grow and
expand their business.
He is the best-selling author of 11 books on sales, management and customer
service. His latest release “Diamond in the Rough” CD program is based on
his best selling book, radio and television show.
Visit him at: or email him at: