In a study conducted by BioMed Central Education, 96.5%[1] of students surveyed found role-play to be beneficial in enhancing their communication skills. It’s a commonly used training tool; so why not incorporate it into your interview procedure?

A role play interview is when a candidate acts out a scenario, in an effort to help determine their suitability for a position. An interviewee’s approach to this hypothetical situation helps to highlight their ability to perform under pressure while simultaneously demonstrating their leadership and communication abilities. Sounds like the perfect way to screen a candidate’s sales ability! For this reason, many of our clients are opting to incorporate role play into their interviews.

Here are a couple of ways we have seen it implemented.

The first is with phone interviews, particularly for inside sales and lead generation roles. According to our Associate Director, Adam McDougall, this is a perfect screening process for these entry-level sales positions. From our experience, some hiring managers will make a decision on a candidate’s capability solely based on a phone interview. By presenting the interviewee with a basic sales scenario, you are provided with insight into the process they undertake. It is a cost-effective way to find out if the candidate is well-suited to conduct a conversation and if they are naturally persuasive over the phone. Adam says that listening out for their tonality and tempo of conversation are important factors to spot a sales pitch with conviction.

Secondly role play can be added to a more traditional interview for senior sales positions such as a BDM. I’m not saying we ask them the traditional “sell us this pen”. Instead by providing an interviewee with a product specific case study 24 hours prior to the interview will allow them to delve into the complexities of the scenario. A good sales rep will use this to get familiar with the basic required knowledge while simultaneously getting familiar with your product or service. As we all know, a knowledgeable confident sales rep is the best sales rep. Furthermore, Adam states that in doing so you are providing an experienced sales rep with a professional and appropriate manner to test their ability to pitch a sale.

Both phone and in person role play options allow you to delve deeper into the sale process your potential employee undertakes. Especially as you can tailor the role play to work with the specifics of your business.

Role plays have come a long way from just being an exercise in drama class. It is now an effective tool to discover potential in your employees. If used correctly, they are the perfect way to help the decision process in finding your next outstanding sales rep.

Until next time…

[1] Nestel, D. and Tierney, T. 2007, “Role-play for medical students learning about communication: guidelines for maximising benefits”, BioMed Central Medical Education, vol. 7, no. 3, accessed via