Post

How to Identify & Hire Self-Motivated Sales Reps

Hiring the right sales talent can be a difficult process for growing sales teams. Learn how you can identify and hire self-motivated sales reps with these tips.

6 min read

This post was originally published by HubSpot and authored by Victoria Young. Young started as a Growth MBA Intern at HubSpot, and now she is part of the Product Innovation, Netflix Originals Launch Strategy.


When motivating sales teams and driving results is already a challenge in itself, being sure to hire intrinsically motivated individuals from the get-go is key to ensuring your team remains effective and continually drives results.

Identifying motivation may seem tricky, especially in the hiring and interview process, when everyone is trying to put their best foot forward. Motivation involves a complex combination of behavioral, cognitive, and social influences that may make it seem impossible to disentangle if an individual is truly self-motivated.

However, there are two primary methods to enable you to better identify motivation while you are in the hiring process: the passive approach (observance) and an active approach (probing). By observing, challenging, and analyzing, you can get some better signals about a candidate's motivation level.

Be Observant of Their Behavior

The details matter when it comes to evaluating how people behave—especially in the hiring stage. Are they proactive? Do they follow-up? How organized are they?

According to a study of more than 25,000 people, the way someone interacts and communicates is a strong indication of their personality. This, in turn, is a strong indicator of job satisfaction and performance. The top character traits in self-motivated employees include emotional stability, extraversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. Look for these key traits in applicant and interviewee behavior and try to watch for the following:

  • Are they constantly making negative comments?
  • How do they deal with minor setbacks such as a delayed email response, traffic, or spilled coffee

It's important to listen to how applicants answer questions—even if they aren't specific to the job role. Small signals to everyday events can give you insight into their reaction to common sales experiences.

For instance, in research done by Ph.D. Adam Grant, he discovered that individuals who have a “giver” style are much more likely to achieve success. Has the candidate you are evaluating participated in any nonprofit or volunteer work? Do they mentor others? How do they behave in conversations -- are they focused on themselves or genuinely curious about others?

While subtle, together, these initial clues can be indications of a highly motivated, effective individual.

Ask the Right Questions

It's also important to better understand the reasons behind a person’s actions by focusing on questions that get to the root of their motivations. Ask questions that get to the core of their motivations to develop a deeper understanding of their goals -- beyond the stated objective on their resume.

Furthermore, ask questions that help reveal the way they think. Highly motivated individuals will have clear, thoughtful answers about ways to improve their own behavior, build on the results of their previous work, and address challenges. Try the following:

  • What has been the most exciting work experience for you in the past, and why?
  • What do you consider to be your ideal job? What more could you have done in your past roles to both benefits the business, and make the experience more enjoyable for you in the process?
  • Do you feel that you get purpose from our mission and vision? If not, tell me what gives you purpose—and how you can leverage that for our business.

In stitching together observations about a candidate’s behavior and evaluating their answers to key questions, you can identify early on whether someone is capable of consistently motivating themselves toward results and success. By validating that your hires are intrinsically motivated individuals early on in the process, you can build the foundation for a highly successful, driven sales team.

Want to learn more about hiring a strong sales team? Download our guide "How to Build and Retain Sales Reps to Drive Top Performance."