What to Watch For: 5 Red Flags When Hiring a New Sales Person

Hiring a sales operative is tough. Every corporate position attracts more than 250 resumes, so you can imagine how tough it can be to differentiate.

You want to be one of the best places to work in the country, but for that, you need the right person to fill that sales position.

There are a lot of things you need to look for. This article is going to discuss the things that could hurt your brand’s reputation, though. Hiring the wrong person can make it difficult to build up your brand and it can make it difficult for you to push forward.

1. They Regularly Hop Jobs

A job hopper is a danger to the future of your company. They have left other companies within a few months before, so what makes you think they won’t do the same again?

As an entrepreneur running a company, it’s a hassle to have to replace someone. If you are selling structured settlements you’re going to have to explain time and time again how the company does it. This wastes a lot of time and effort. For every hour spent training a new hire, you’re losing money. Job hoppers are not worth the stress. They’re either disloyal or they are not the right person for an office environment. Ignore the quality of hire at your peril.

Related Article: Hiring Sales Staff? 15 Must-Ask Interview Questions

2. They Struggle to Articulate What They Did Before

One of the first questions you will ask will involve what they did at their last job. They should be able to explain this so anyone can understand it. If it’s too complex, or they seem unable to recall, this is a red flag. The chances are they weren’t paying much attention to their previous role, or they just didn’t care.

There are some ambiguous roles in larger companies, but that’s no excuse. They should still be able to give you a list of roles and responsibilities. When you hire the wrong candidate you find out they don’t care and they don’t have any interest in what they’re doing. Someone who does care will be able to recite what they did at the click of your fingers.

3. You Find a Negative Search Result Online

It’s a common big corporate practice for employers to type the person’s name into Google and to check out their social media profiles.  If they have some bad stories associated with their name, you don’t want to hire that person. This isn’t because they aren’t good at their job, necessarily.

The problem is if they were sued or if they were arrested for doing something stupid that reputation will combine with your reputation. Whenever someone searches for their name your name is going to come up alongside it, and vice-versa. On a side note, make sure you are sticking to the legal regulations of your state when performing research into new hires.

Related Article: Hire Smarter: The Shift in Thinking for Hiring Sales Talent

4. Their References Are Bad

It’s true that referees won’t say bad things about their former employees. People don’t like to say bad things about people because it, in turn, makes them feel bad. The way to get around this is to keep your questioning subtle and probing. Allow them to speak their minds without having to say anything bad.

Ask them questions about the employee’s weaknesses and where they think the employee could improve. You need to read between the lines to get true negative feedback in today’s world. This is an art in itself. Don’t expect to get a straight answer from a reference check, unless the person happens to really hate your candidate.

5. They Say Negative Things About Others

Negative references tend to carry more weight because they’re much rarer in today’s world. But negative references are also a major red flag. If someone walks into an interview talking negatively about their previous employee the chances are they’ll be doing the same to you lately.

The office gossip is a master of creating a toxic environment. Plus, they tend to be negative people in general. Sales is about remaining positive and enthusiastic at all times. There’s nothing worse than someone who talks about people behind their back to others. It’s a mark of their character, and that’s a character wholly unsuited to sales. That’s not to mean they have to say nice things about everyone. But they shouldn’t be speaking negatively in public.

Related Article: Born to Sell: What Makes A Successful Sales Personality?


Make sure any new hires are on a probation period. You want the ability to back out if it doesn’t work out. No entrepreneur can ever know someone until they’ve actually worked with them. If they aren’t the right fit be honest and move onto the next one.

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