The fourth character trait we measure while recruiting salespeople is personal responsibility. In addition to the definition of the trait, I have included some interview questions.

We accept Personal Responsibility for the outcomes of our choices when we believe that the struggles as well as the accomplishments in our lives are impacted by our choices.

We set our selfish interests aside and realize there is a cause and effect associated with every decision we make.

If we have a high maturity level in this character trait, we believe that all of our decisions have either a positive or negative impact on ourselves and others. On the positive side, if we want to make something better, it is up to us to take action. On the negative side, if our decision caused a problem, we either choose to admit that we caused the problem and take action to fix it, or we take our punishment and move on. We do not blame others or make excuses for our mistakes.

Taking responsibility involves being introspective enough to ask, “What did I do wrong and what could I have done differently to have caused a better outcome?”

Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, refers to this concept as looking in the mirror and changing ourselves vs. looking out the window for someone else to blame.

When looking for evidence that candidates have a well-developed sense of responsibility for their actions, listen as they talk of former companies. If they tell you about leaving several jobs due to the way they were treated by others, due to companies going out of business, or due to broken promises, stop them and ask, “As you hear yourself telling me about your previous jobs, what do you think I am thinking?” It takes a few tries, but the candidate usually acknowledges that they were not very good at choosing the places they picked to work. The reality is that they failed to perform the due diligence prior to taking their last several jobs.  This scenario shows a lack of Personal Responsibility for not acknowledging why they left each job and a lack of Work Ethic for not better researching the company.

These additional interview questions also help you measure the presence of Personal Responsibility.

  • Tell me about a time in your life when someone gave you a task that did not work out well.
  • What happened, and what could you have done differently? (Mature candidates spend more time admitting their mistakes and talking about the wrong choices they made vs. blaming others for their mistakes.)
  •  What are you doing to improve your sales skills? What are you doing personally and professionally to grow? (Mature candidates realize they must take responsibility for their own moral and professional growth. They are regularly growing by reading, studying, and attending training.)

In the next blog, I will begin to talk about another dimension in the “Best Sales Person Profile”, Personality Traits.

Blessings upon your recruiting efforts.

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Steve Suggs is a partner at Sales Manage Solutions, a sales consulting firm focused on training sales managers to recruit salespeople and coach them to greatness. You can also read Steve’s sales productivity blog.

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