Many years ago, as sales director, I was on the lookout for competent salespeople to complement one of our regions when this incident happened. I received a call one morning on my cellphone from a salesperson who worked for a competitor. She was aware of our recruitment drive and wanted to apply.

She made it clear to me she was a senior salesperson with many loyal customers who could ‘switch sides’. I was sceptical about salespeople who told me about their ‘existing clients’ they can bring on board. It always seemed ‘game-changing’ and normally did not materialise.

I was reluctant to meet her, but she confidently insisted, “I am definitely worth interviewing Mr van Wyk”. I agreed on a time the same day.

The manager in that region and I had struggled to find salespeople with the ideal skill set. It was of high importance to get our numbers up. We were becoming desperate. So yes, perhaps the timing of the call was good.

She arrived on time. Her polished demeanor struck me. She was confident, graceful, and well-spoken. Her smile was broad. Our eyes locked. She seemed perfect.

“Hello Marcus, I am Jenny,” she said with deliberate sultriness.

We began the interview. She had all the right questions and answers. Looking back, I realise that she expertly controlled the conversation. She mirrored my body language. Finally, after about thirty minutes and with a sense of principle she said, “Marcus, I suspect you don’t like it when salespeople show their client lists, it could be fake, but can I prove to you what I am working on and whom some of my clients are?”

With that, and before I could answer, she opened her notes and, with one hand, gently slid the book over to me. I looked at the perfectly printed document that had two columns, namely ‘Working on,’ & ‘Existing clients–can bring over.’

After some consideration, I referred her to the regional manager, who agreed to meet with her. I gave my recommendations that this person can be a substantial addition to the sales team. I was hooked. What I SAW and HEARD that day was amazing. I was vulnerable; I had to fill the sales position, and maybe she was the ONE. She knew it.

Before I continue with the story, might I suggest people are like icebergs. They only let you see what they want you to see, in that what you do not see is more important than what you see. What you see in an interview is only 10% of the person, being the CV, and general demeanour.

That leaves 90% unseen, which has four crucial areas, namely;

1. Integrity (Adherence to moral and ethical principles acceptable in the workplace)

2. Substance Abuse (Attitudes toward substance abuse in the workplace)

3. Reliability (Attitudes concerning following procedures, dealing with authority figures and working positively with others in the workplace)

4. Work Ethic (Belief in the value of work and appropriate supervisory relationships in the workplace.)

Jenny was employed in our sales team but was tracked within seven days by the police and arrested for fraud and theft related to the company she worked for. She was a masterclass con artist. I shudder to think of the utter damage this fraudster could have caused.

How many times have you not seen this in your own recruiting and hiring? How much money have you not wasted on recruiting and onboarding fees only to find out they are not who they say they are? We learnt valuable lessons from that incident.

No matter who you are interviewing or what channels or sources they come through, please talk to me about my assessment called the STEP ONE SURVEY. The Step One Survey is a brief pre-hire assessment that measures an individual’s basic work-related values, such as Integrity, Substance Abuse, Reliability, Work Ethic.

We use it primarily as a screening tool early in the selection process. We conducted it online and reports are available immediately. Set your mind at ease and hire people worthy of your trust.


Marcus van Wyk

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