6+ Interview Tips for Hiring SDR Rockstars

Our goal is to hire the best. This doesn’t necessarily mean we are looking for the hardcore sales person nor does it mean we want an inexperienced person speaking to our perfect fit customers. We are looking for those who have relationship building and communicating embedded in their DNA. Our SDR’s come from all kinds of backgrounds, skill sets, and life experience. I guess it sounds a little airy-fairy, but we know a keeper when we hear them and meet them, probably within the first 5 minutes.

Here’s how we go about finding the ideal SDR.

1) Start with a 15 Minute Phone Conversation

The goal is to evaluate how they connect with the caller. In this case, the caller is you the interviewer. Is the candidate communicating clearly? Are they confident? Are they articulate? Do they choose the right words to convey their message? Are they speaking to be heard or to be understood? Do they talk over you? Are they listening? Have they done their homework on the company just like you expect them to do in their role? How scripted are they? Can they have a human conversation? Put yourself in the shoes of both the employer and the customer and analyze what you are hearing. SDR’s, my best advice is to be human and most importantly, be yourself!

The Go / No-Go decision here is, if the candidate isn’t able to come across confidently, clearly and with credibility in this interview, they will not be able to connect and have a quality conversation with your potential customers.

2) What do they know about…?

My first 2 questions, both of which are showstoppers if they aren’t answered in some reasonable capacity are:

  • What attracted you to the SDR role?
  • What do you know about the company?

Answers to both of these questions have ranged from bang on and stellar indicating the SDR has done their homework to these very sad examples:

“I don’t know about the role. I’ve applied to so many roles I don’t remember.” #Fail

“I’m not sure what your company does? You tell me!” #Fail or “Unsure, why don’t you get me up to speed.” #Fail

At minimum it takes 5 minutes to breeze through a website before the interview. At maximum, you’ve done some serious homework to learn about the company, culture, offerings and even your interviewer. It’s worth the time and investment.

3) Find out their Motivations

Are they in escape mode? Are they desperate? Have they demonstrated loyalty to companies in the past or do they bounce around from one job to the next? Are they looking for a temporary landing pad? Were they let go? Find out exactly why they are looking for another job and why they wish to leave. If they view an SDR role as an entry point into an organization that is great, but they need to make a commitment to the role for 12 months. This can be tough for those who have had more senior roles in the past who feel they may be taking a step back.

4) What lights them up?

It’s not just about what is on the resume but what makes the person tick. You want to know they will gel with the team and the company culture in addition to being a rockstar. Tall order, I know but critical to hiring the right fit. Some questions you can ask to get to know the SDR a little better are:

  • What about this role in sales lights you up?
  • What is the most important thing you look forward to when you get up in the morning?
  • Describe your ideal workplace.
  • Name 3 things that inspire you and tell me why.
  • What is your “Why?
  • Describe the best moment of your career.

5. Ask Off Script Interview Questions

SDR’s need to think on their feet and remain articulate without getting flustered. Standard interview questions and resume walkthroughs are fine but add a few zingers in there to stimulate some real conversation. In some cases, the questions are more to find out what the thought process is to get to the answer. How credible and realistic is the answer (even if there is no “right “ answer.). Do they ask for help or clarification? Are they stumped or able to think on their feet? The biggest thing here is listening from an interviewing perspective and being clear, concise and compelling from an SDR perspective.

  • Tell me your career story.
  • Can you give an example in your career where you have demonstrated empathy with a prospect or customer?
  • What are your techniques to reach decision makers?
  • How do you go about finding perfect fit customers?
  • Describe your ideal work environment.
  • Describe the ideal customer journey.

Here are some other resources for some great interview questions in general:

Google’s hardest interview questions.

20 of the most oddball interview questions.

6. Have at least 2 in person interviews.

At this stage we are looking for a few things. Some pretty standard and mostly team fit. We should know if they are compelling over the phone and can convey their message clearly, but are they the type of person who will fit in with the team in the immediate and longer term?

In person interview 1 should be focused on background, experience, and philosophies that align with the role. I ask many of the same questions I ask on the phone for a couple of reasons. 1) to make sure we get the same answers to validate honesty and consistency and 2) for the benefit of anyone I bring in to participate in the interview.

In interview 2 we have a team interview. Yes the SDR team members or at least the senior members come in and ask their own questions and answer any questions the candidate has about the role. This is more of an informal discussion and is a good opportunity for SDR’s to see if they gel with the new team member. What I look for is how the candidate interacts with the team members. Are they acting as a member of the team already or are they a lone wolf? Do they challenge the team members in a positive way, ask thoughtful questions or have a meaningful conversation or are they waiting for the Q&A to start?

If the SDR candidate has made it to the last interview, is a good fit with the SDR team, has a positive attitude and has the qualities that we are looking for from a corporate culture point of view, we make the offer and we grow again!

Yes, all of this in a serious investment in resources and time to get someone who is a great fit for an entry level position. Some schools of thought may say its not worth it. Some say, over hire and cull the team. Breezing through interviews and over hiring will never happen on my watch. We are in it to make the company and people successful and that means putting in the work to hire the best and brightest from entry level on up.

Share your tips for hiring amazing Sales Development Reps!

P.s. In case you missed it, and are looking for more SDR related articles, check 10 Red Flags of Building an SDR Practice or Your Questions Answered about our SDR Practice.