5 years ago
July 9, 2019

8 Unhirable Sales Candidate Habits to Watch Out for When Recruiting

Sales headhunters warn that candidate habits can be a sign of what’s to come. No one wants to make a hiring mistake, but it happens. In your quest to find…

Rhys Metler

Sales headhunters warn that candidate habits can be a sign of what’s to come. No one wants to make a hiring mistake, but it happens. In your quest to find a great candidate to fill a sales role in your organization, you are bound to make a mistake here and there. It’s very challenging trying to separate great candidates from the rest of the pack.

The sales industry is unique in the sense that all candidates have sales skills, which makes it easier for them to sell themselves, and more challenging for you to differentiate between candidates. However, there are some undesirable habits candidates display that should be an immediate red flag for you.

Here Toronto sales recruiters outline sales candidate habits to watch out for when recruiting.

1. Significant Job Hopping

Some job hopping is to be expected. It has become more common for sales professionals to move around every 3 – 5 years, especially early on in their career. But, if the candidate holds a number of shorter term positions, holds roles that are not directly related to their career objectives, or if they take steps back, it may be a sign the candidate has issues keeping a job, getting along with others, or gets bored easily.

Asking a candidate about their job history is the most effective way to determine why they job hopped. Many candidates have valid reasons. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Are the candidate’s job moves in a natural succession?
  • Does the candidate move their career forward?
  • Why did the candidate leave?
  • Are there gaps in employment?

2. Tardiness

There can be a lot of interactions with a candidate during the hiring process. Being prompt with responses is important. If a candidate takes too much time replying to communications, they are late for interviews, no-show an interview or go dark, it’s a sign to move on. These acts of tardiness usually signify the candidate is no longer interested in the job. It also provides you with an example of how they operate. Sales professionals cannot be late or no-show for sales calls.

3. Overselling

One of the inherent challenges of recruiting sales talent is they are sales professionals. They know how to sell. But, if a candidate tries to sell themselves too much or if they try to use certain sales tactics to push their candidacy further, it may be worth taking a closer look into this candidate habit before considering them for the job.

4. Trying to Leverage Other Offers

It’s common for candidates to get multiple offers, especially if they are a top performer in their role. But proceed with caution if a candidate makes a point to brag about having multiple job offers. For starters, it could be a tactic to get you to hire them quicker and potentially overlook something about their candidacy. It also shows a sense of arrogance. Overconfidence could create issues within your company culture, especially if you have a close-knit group.

If they really did get multiple offers, they could be a candidate who is willing to leave for another role. It’s fine if a candidate mentions they have another offer when prompted or when the time is right at the end of the interview process. But, if they are making it well known right away, proceed with caution.

5. Playing the Blame Game

People make mistakes. Any good professional will accept accountability when they make a mistake. Watch out for sales candidates who don’t take accountability for their actions. If they are quick to blame others for shortcomings, it’s a sign they don’t learn from their mistakes and likely will continue similar behaviour in your company.

Candidates who play the blame game also tend to be quick to take credit for everything, even if it was a team effort. These types of candidates tend to lack self-awareness and can have a negative impact on company culture. Speak with the candidate’s references to get a better sense of their credentials, experience, and how they interact with others.

6. Difficulty Explaining Previous Jobs and Successes

Just because someone puts it on their resume doesn’t mean it’s true. Asking about previous jobs and work history is common when getting to know candidates. We also know that many candidates stretch the truth and overstate their role or impact in a previous sales job. Then there are others who flat out lie. If a candidate has difficulty explaining the ins and outs of their previous jobs, there should be some cause for concern. Dig deeper about this candidate habit and ask more questions to try to get more out of the candidate. If they say something questionable, ask for clarification. You can also ask questions of references and perform an employment background check to see if what a candidate states matches up with their actual experience.

7. Show Me the Money

There is no doubt money is important. Many sales professionals are focused on closing sales and making money. However, candidates who are too focused on compensation could do more harm than good. If all a sales professional cares about is closing the deal, they could be pushy, negatively impact customer relationships, and stray from what you are trying to accomplish within the parameters of your sales process.

8. Lack of Enthusiasm

Attempting to make a career move is exciting. If a candidate shows a lack of enthusiasm, it should bring up some red flags. Be on the lookout for candidates with poor body language, a negative vibe, and who ask no or very few questions about the job or company. Perhaps it’s simply that they are nervous or have a low-key personality. But an overall lack of enthusiasm could give you a glimpse of their demeanour when they are working in the role and representing your organization.

More Sales Candidate Recruiting Tips

Did these candidate habits to look out for help? Looking for even more information to help you hire better sales talent? Our expert Toronto sales recruiters provide many actionable tips and insider advice to help you improve your recruiting process. Check out these insightful blog posts:

The 10 Easiest Ways to Spot an Unsuitable Sales Candidate

Reading Resumes? 5 Top Questions You Should Be Asking Sales Candidate References

Candidates Gone Wild! 4 Ways Sales Recruiters Deal with Tough Candidates

Recruiting Millennials: 4 Engaging Ways to Hire Generation Y

Top 5 Sales Recruiting Challenges


SalesForce Search is a sales recruiting company which specializes in the recruitment and placement of sales professionals. We recruit salespeople in every sector of the economy including, software, manufacturing, financial services and medical devices. Find the right salesperson for your organization, start your search here.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.