Sales employees are the face of your company. Obviously, the importance of hiring the right reps can’t be underestimated.

You know it’s critical to find top sales reps — and you also know it’s a challenge to recruit them once you do. With unemployment at an all-time low, it’s especially important to make every interview as effective as possible.

Take a deep breath. You can do this.

First, delve into sales candidates’ minds. Since you’re not a mindreader, you’ll need to ask the most revealing interview questions. But you don’t have time to ask hundreds of questions. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s “Inside the Mind of Today’s Candidate” report, job seekers want you to keep the process short and sweet with just three interviews.

Each interview question you ask must serve a specific purpose, allowing you to see deep below the surface of each job seeker. Here are four questions that will shine a light on the top sales candidates in your talent pool:

1. Here’s an Overview of a Current Client. How Would You Upsell Them?

Adaptability is a critical skill for all successful sales reps. They must be able to jump from client to client, product to product, and even industry to industry. Knowing from the start of the interview if sales talent can sell to your specific clients is the best way to weed out talent that isn’t right for your team.

As candidates answer, listen for key phrases or words that show their adaptability. For example, those who speak directly about the client’s goals, previous objections, and current spending are paying attention to specific details. This shows they’re already prepared to understand your clients’ unique needs and overcome their objections.

2. Why Did You Leave Your Previous Job?

The sales industry is known for its high turnover rates. Some turnover is good, such as when letting low performers go. However, with sales industry turnover rates at a high, many sales recruiters are struggling to keep up with talent acquisition demands.

Find out why candidates are looking to move on. Are they hoping to improve their sales career? Are they passionate about your product but need to gain experience first? Did they get bored? Are they looking for another, better opportunity?

Be aware of red flags suggesting candidates don’t have the dedicated spirit needed to stick with a company for the long haul.

3. What Is the Single Most Important Salesperson Trait?

This is a question to which you’ll get an array of answers — and that’s a positive. To find the best sales talent, you need to pull candidates outside of their comfort zones and take them off script. Asking candidates this question during the interview, rather than on an application, pushes them to speak honestly.

Sales reps who are already successful will know a few answers to this immediately. Dig deeper into their responses by following up with: “Why is this the most important salesperson trait?”

Listen for responses that include personal accounts, like:

- “In my experience …”
- “My clients appreciate this because …”
- “I made a sale specifically because of this trait.”

If candidates are able to reach into their prior job experiences to explain their answers, you know they’re already successfully using this trait.

4. When Was Your Last Rejection? How Did You Handle/Move On From the Client?

Rejection is a natural part of sales. In fact, most seasoned and successful reps say rejection is a healthy part of the process. It gives them opportunities to improve their strategies and develop relationships.

Help your company keep retention high by finding sales talent who can quickly overcome rejection. Candidates who admit to rejection while framing it in terms of resulting growth are more likely to succeed and stick around longer.

Karyn Mullins is president of Connect with Karyn on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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