Common Myths Regarding Pre-Hire Assessments to Select Sales People
Many folks voice concerns about using pre-hire sales assessments based on myths or incorrect information. The majority of the concerns we hear are unfounded. In this post, I debunk some common myths about pre-hire sales assessments.
Myth 1: “It takes too long to administer a pre-hire sales assessment.”
A good pre-hire sales assessment takes 30-60 minutes. Multiple studies show that 75-95% of applicants will complete an assessment if it takes less than 100 minutes. To maximize completion rates, you must explain that the assessment is relevant to the position and in both parties’ interests. What I have always wondered is why would a candidate not take the assessment when it is designed to make sure there is a good fit between the company and the sales candidate?
Myth 2: “These assessments are not accurate because candidates can cheat.”
Can sales candidates cheat on assessments? It depends on how easy it is for test-takers to cheat the assessment without detection. Some types of assessments have no way to identify if someone tried to cheat. A good sales-specific assessment will tell you if applicants tried to cheat.
Moreover, you can find a number of websites that will tell candidates how to cheat an assessment. All you have to do is type in, “How to pass, take or cheat the __________ assessment” and then read what it says. Some of those sites are a bait and switch so they can charge you a fee to “practice.”
Myth 3: “These pre-hire tests cost a lot.”
Folks use assessments during the recruiting process in two different ways. They either test upfront or they test at the end. Let’s say you are looking to hire three salespeople. You run an ad and get 93 applicants a day for three weeks, as we did for a client. How long would it take you to screen 1,953 applicants?
Different assessment companies use different ways to charge for their tests.
In one scenario, the assessment company charges a fee per test. In this pricing model, the producer recommends using the test at the end of the recruiting process. When the test results come in at the end and report that a candidate is not a fit, what are you prone to do?
Typically, sales managers fall in love with some sales candidates and hire them regardless of the test results. In these “I love them and hired them anyway” situations, 75% of the time that new hire is gone in six months!
With the second pricing model, the assessment company charges an annual fee for unlimited testing. Here you test all 1,953 sales candidates at the beginning of the recruiting process. You only talk with the top 10% (195) sales candidates who are a good fit. It shortens your recruiting process, gets you stronger salespeople who hit quota, and reduces turnover.
Myth 4: “We’re at risk for legal action if we use assessments.”
Good pre-hire assessment companies follow the Uniformed Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP), which is what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) follows. Ask the assessment company for its statement on how it follows this procedure. Make sure the statement provides evidence of no adverse impact on protected groups.
Myth 5: “We should use just one pre-hiring assessment.”
Companies using a “one assessment fits all jobs” approach typically use a personality or behavior assessment, which is the wrong assessment for predicting if a sales candidate can hit quota. However, these assessments can provide information on how to coach, manage, and communicate with your new hire. Also, these assessments can tell you what kind of team player applicants will be. You could use a predictive pre-hire assessment and a post-hire behavior assessment.
You should use a pre-hire assessment to predict sales performance. After you hire the right candidates, you can use personality or behavior testing to determine training needs.
You should use the assessments, which enable you to measure what you need to measure. Companies often use 2-3 different assessments during the recruiting process but they space them out over time starting with the most important.
Myth 6: “Pre-hire tests give a negative candidate experience.”
Studies show that candidates are fine with taking job-related assessments. What they don’t like is taking assessments they consider unrelated to the job and a waste of their time.
Make sure the assessment is job-related. One annoyed job applicant retorted: “The cognitive test involves 50 problem solving and math questions to be answered in 15 minutes. I can see how a test like this could be useful for a bank teller or auditor position. But I’m a designer. “Assessing” my job aptitude based on my ability to do long division without a calculator is ridiculous.”
Myth 7: “Pre-hire sales assessments don’t really make a difference.”
A study by Deloitte shows that employers could increase the number of top performers they hire by 25-46% if they remove hiring bias. Research from CSO Insights shows when firms hire candidates using a pre-hire assessment, those hires met the quota 61% of the time. The same study showed when firms did not use a pre-hire test, the hired salesperson met the quota only 49% of the time.
If you need more info on these tests, check out our post: What is a pre-hire sales assessment?