Why Interviews Aren’t the Best Indicator of Success When Hiring Sales Development Reps’ (SDRs)

04 Apr Why Interviews Aren’t the Best Indicator of Success When Hiring Sales Development Reps’ (SDRs)

Let’s be honest, although Sales Development Reps are a valued member of the team, potentially leading to massive revenue growth in your organization, it’s hardly the right role for anybody. An SDR has to make hundreds of phone calls a week and set appointment after appointment, not the right role for the easily discouraged.

In addition to the resilience and grit needed to excel in this role, an SDR should also be coachable, communicative, and able to think on their feet. These are pretty dynamic skills, so how can the same static interview process uncover these competencies in candidates?

The data shows they probably can’t. Numerous studies have confirmed what hiring managers already know, interviews just aren’t that effective, which is why 81% of new hires fail.

Hiring managers don’t need any more work than they already have on their plates and your organization shouldn’t be hemorrhaging money by hiring the wrong SDRs, so let’s take a look at some of the way interviews fail, as well as an alternatives.


1. Inaccurate Measure of Job Success

What can an interview tell you about a candidate? How well they’ve mastered the art of interviewing for a job!

Interviews can also measure industry knowledge, likability, confidence, but not whether candidates can actually close appointments and maintain a positive attitude through hundreds of phone calls. Unless hiring managers have a sixth sense, it’s also difficult to measure other key, but less tangible, skills for the SDR role including culture fit, coachability, motivation, temperament, resilience, attitude and emotional intelligence.

SDRs work hands on with leads and serve as a key communication channel in your team. This means hiring an SDR with the a bad attitude and a dearth of emotional intelligence can end up being like a comikaze to team morale and your prospect list. In fact, one study found that 23% of new hires fail due to a lack of emotional intelligence, while 58% fail because they were unmotivated, uncoachable, or had the wrong temperament for the job.

 2. Dishonesty 

If every candidate acted as they did during the interview process, hiring managers wouldn’t have such a hard job. According to Ron Friedman, psychologist and author of The Best Place to Work 80% of interviewees are dishonest during job interviews. This shouldn’t be too surprising considering a candidate’s goal is to pay their bills, not assist you in making an informed hiring decision.

3. Time Constraints

When scaling, hiring managers are swamped with resumes to read and interviews to lead. 38% of bad hires are brought on because the position needed to be filled quickly. When scrambling to fill a gap in the team, most hiring managers don’t have time to study every resume, speak with ever reference, and design a meaningful assessment for candidates.

4. Hiring Manager Bias & Attitudes 

Hiring managers are only human and studies have shown there are plenty of factors that can affect an interviewers perception of a candidate: attractiveness, dress, depth of voice, perceived extraversion or introversion, height, fidgeting, and posture, to name a few. In perceiving these unspoken cues, hiring managers may inadvertently phrase questions guiding candidates in a certain direction. Hiring managers are also more likely to hire candidates most similar to themselves, which is why so many candidates play the alumni game. But similarity doesn’t necessarily correlate with the ability of the candidate to set appointments and maintain a positive attitude amid a barrage of rejection.

Better Indicators of Long-Term Performance

Rather than trying to divine the future success of a candidate based on short interviews, a variety of assessments can measure abstract and hard skills that are otherwise difficult to put your finger on in an interview. They can determine whether a candidate has the resilience and grit to plow through cold calls, while live activities determine their job related skills.

When it comes to hiring for such an important part of the sales funnel, time spent getting the hiring process right is time saved and money earned. More on types of assessments in a future article.