Assessing the Self-Motivation of a Salesperson

A client asks, “During an interview, how can I determine whether or not a prospective sales representative is self-motivated, competitive, or hungry?”

Job interviews are challenging because both you and the candidate are trying to present yourselves in the best light possible. This gets further exacerbated when the interviewer makes a common mistake and asks the candidate leading questions.

One way to avoid this problem is to use behavioral questions. These questions will usually take the form of “Describe a time when….” or similar phrasing. Asking, “Can you tell me about a time when you created a sales contest just for yourself?” will give you a lot more information than a leading question such as “Are you self-motivated?” The former question allows them to both tell a story and actually demonstrate their level of self-motivation or competitiveness. The latter question tips them off to the reply you want.

A genuinely self-motivated salesperson understands the importance of frequently setting up both large and small rewards for themselves on an ongoing basis. If a candidate mentions buying a gourmet dessert for their family every Friday if they speak to a certain number of decision makers each week, you know they understand the importance of setting smaller goals. If a candidate mentions buying tickets to a theatre production or sporting event if they open a new account or close a particularly big sale, you know they understand the importance of setting larger goals as well. Salespeople like these are actively engaging in this process.

Good follow-up questions to ask are “Who have you told about these contests?” or “How often do you bring home a gourmet dessert for your family?” Listen for candid and open answers.

Behavioral questions such as these will help you to see beyond the candidates “best manners” and enable you to more accurately determine whether or not they are a driven salesperson.