Personality tests – do they work for sales people?

Over the past 5 years we have seen an increase in personality tests. There are hundreds if not thousands of personality tests out there and they vary greatly. The one thing for certain is that they all believe they are the correct test to help identify the right person for your team. Reviews vary and the usefulness of these tests depends on many uncontrollable variables. There is always the potential for dishonesty and deception when sales professionals pining for a position take these types of test. Sales professionals are excellent at using their sales skills to qualify and position themselves appropriately. They are also excellent at finding the right solution for a problem.

Some companies rely and trust personality tests to help with each hire while others question the validity of the results. It is very difficult to predict a good hire from a sales prospective. For instance, a candidate receives a great score, but after looking at critical information (ie. sales stats: sales size, quota and W2) their job performance proves to be disappointing. This is where the challenge lies. Given the nature of sales professionals and their creative social personalities these uncertainties can cause misinterpretation of the data.

Do you think personality tests for sales professionals should be given the boot?

While some employers have a strong conviction regarding the use of personality test, I don't. We hire hundreds of sales people every year and our research has found that they don't work. We have analyzed similar hiring companies and how they move through the interview process with talented sales professionals.

Our findings are very interesting. We have found that while one company rejects a candidate based on unsatisfactory test scores the other recognizes the candidate's potential. While one company passes on the candidate the other has a different perception and hires what they consider to be their next top producer.

We have followed the success of those candidates and they do exactly what we thought. They fight for the top slot on the sales force. They work hard and have something to prove and rely on themselves to get the job done. These sales people have risen to the top and are top producers.

This is why I have trouble with personality tests. We see them fail and see top producers get passed by. The troubling piece is that many of these companies that pass over true talent don't realize it. They have no access to data that show that their process is broken and as a result of not they never truly understand how to hire talented sales professionals. Instead they believe that the personality test validates their "strong" hiring process and the perception that their sales team is top notch. This methodology can be unhealthy and very deceptive. Many of these companies could be missing incredible hiring opportunities.

I say, give them the boot. What do you think?


Published On: November 21st, 2011Categories: Best Hiring Practices, Blog News, Sales Recruiting

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