Hiring a Sales Person? Check Out this Shortlisting Tip!

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Are you looking to hire a sales or a customer service person, this tip is actually great for shortlisting applicants.

Normally when you’re looking to hire the first thing most people do is write an advert and advertise the vacancy or they may tell people that they are hiring. Then applications/CVs are reviewed  and start inviting people in for interview.  That’s how the recruitment process normally goes. This tip is great for shortlisting Sales or Customer Service people. I especially like it for sales people as one of the key attributes you need in a sales person is being tenacious.

Rather than get the candidates to send their CV in for the vacancy you ask them to call in, it is best if you can dedicate a line specially to this purpose so that there is not human interaction, but if this is not possible you can always leave a fake name in the advert so that you know this person is applying for the vacancy that you have advertised and divert them to a voicemail. On the answering machine the message that you put on it is something along the lines: 

“Sorry we can’t take your call at the moment, if you’ve applied for the sales consultant role, please leave your details; Your name, your telephone number.”

If you want to know where they saw your advert or where they heard about it, ask them to leave that also.

Then here comes the real task,

“Please also leave three reasons why you believe you are good for this role and why we should interview you.”

The candidates need to sell themselves on the answering phone. They can share anything they feel will support their application, they may share the fact that they are good at sales and they back it up with the fact that they made the largest sale in the company.

This shortlisting tip is good for shortlisting customer service people too. You can leave slightly different request on the answering machine, for example “three reasons why they feel they’d be good for the vacancy”.

The purpose behind getting a candidate to leave a voice mail is to assist in the candidate deselecting themselves from the process, giving you fewer candidates to review, these candidates should be of a higher quality.  It also enables you to hear how that person comes across. How do they react when they’re given that hurdle to get over? You may hear lots of people hanging up the phone on the voice mail as they were caught off guard. Though the strong sales and customer service people will call back with the answers to your questions.

From here you will be able to shortlist the strong candidates for or to call back and engaged in conversation and request a CV.  Ensure that you respond to everyone that leaves a voice mail – the volume will be less than if they emailed in as the people who as not as confident in their ability to sell will probably not call back.

So to recap. Set up an answering machine for your applicants to call to apply for the vacancy you have advertised. Ask them to leave their name, their contact details, where they heard about the vacancy, and three reasons why they feel that they are suitable for this role.  

I hope you find this useful. You can view the Facebook Live where I shared the information in the video above. You can implement this process in your business immediately.

I’d love your feedback and what experience you have had with this shortlisting method, please comment below.

Next week’s FB Live will be on the topic “Employing Vs Outsourcing – which is right for you?”

Come and Join me!  I’m happy to answer your questions Live here.

Have a fantastic week. Remember my FREE Guide is available! You can get it here.



  1. lee  April 5, 2017

    Hi Nicola,

    Interesting article and is quite thought provoking to be honest. How would you go about translating this across the board for various roles? Also how would you factor in shyness levels or where you may accidentally exclude a perfect candidate due to putting them on the spot. I can see the benefit of this in any number of situations where you have direct customer facing roles where you need quick thinking open people but what about the rest? Would you tailor to suit? If so how do you know which to target and which not to?

    • Nicola Mullarkey  April 6, 2017

      Hi Lee,

      Thank you for your comment. This process is really best used for roles where you need the candidate to be outgoing, for example a sales role and as you said you need quick thinking people in this type of role. For other roles where a more introverted person would be considered I would start with a telephone interview, so the candidate would need to send in their CV or an ‘I’m interested’ response. Hope that answers your questions – let me know if you have any more. Nicola


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