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We Think You’ll Like This Very Crafty Sales Interview Tactic

3 min read
Dec. 2, 2013

There’s one simple way to find the best candidate for your startup’s sales opening in a single phone call. We’re going to share it in this post.

As you’re searching for the next star addition to your sales team, you start by writing a job listing that shows you’re looking for the absolute best candidate. And that you know you’ll find it.

When you’re satisfied with the candidates who’ve shown interest, let them know you’d like to have a pre-screening….just a quick call that could lead to a full interview if you’re impressed.

Here comes the magic.

Once on the phone, the first thing you say is,

As you know, we’re only looking for the absolute best person for this role. Tell me why that’s you.

Then you let them say whatever they want. Once they’re done you say,

I’m just not hearing that you’re the best. I’m not convinced.

9 times out of 10 the candidate is going to say something like, “Oh. Ok. Well…thanks for the interview.” They might ask a question about the position or the company, to which you object, “Those are longer answers for the interview. Right now we’re just trying to find the best candidates.”

At that point, after only a few minutes total on the phone, you tell them thank you and that you’ll be in touch.


There will be a person who continue to handle your objection. They’ll continue to explain their accomplishments and most importantly, they’ll continue to ask questions.

You want recruits to overcome your objections. You want them to ask, “Well, why don’t you see me as a good fit? Is it my experience or something that I said? What do you consider to be a good fit to your company? What are the other candidates like that you’ve interviewed? What qualities did you find valuable from them?”

When they start taking charge of the call even after you’ve told them “No,” THAT’s when you know you have a great candidate.

They will push right through your objection. That’s the person you want to interview. Clearly, they have experience selling and dealing with customers who aren’t ready to buy.

That’s your ideal candidate.

This strategy has worked amazingly well for those we know who have tried it. It’s a bit awkward when you tell someone you’re not convinced, but it immediately weeds out the pretenders.

(This post was derived from an email conversation between John Peterson and our very own Anthony Zhang. I’ve taken the liberty of combining their ideas into a post on sales hiring for startups)