I’ve been interviewing sales development candidates for over 10 years now. As you can imagine, I’ve met just about every kind of aspiring sales reps out there. Over that time I’ve often caught myself seeking the same, obvious traits in people hoping to explore sales for the first time. Do they have the drive? Do they seem intelligent? Are they articulate? Can they think on their feet? How do they deal with adversity? Will they fit in with the team?

While these questions are extremely important for us to ask, there are other questions that seem to call out the intangible skills that I see in our most successful new hires. Over the course of a decade, I’ve learned that getting to the bottom of these questions is absolutely essential for prospective sales development representatives.

On the surface, these questions may seem obvious. However, when an inside sales rep quickly flames out after 2 months on the job, I’m often kicking myself for not sticking to the 3 C’s:

Commitment: Do they want to make sales a career?

I’ve made the mistake in the past of assuming that a candidate is passionate about selling just because they showed up to the interview. Problem is that folks who tell me they’re thinking about marketing or sales are major red flags, and they rarely work out in the field.

Cold calling and inside sales are not for the faint of heart. You can’t just dip your toe in the water. Either you fully commit to it, or you don’t. The last thing any of us needs is an inside sales rep knocking on your office after two months and admitting that they’re burnt out and they don’t think the job is a great fit for them.

I get it: I have to be realistic. Most people don’t want to grind it out on the phones forever. But in order for them to truly absorb the required skills from the job, allowing you to run a sales team effectively, they need to stick it out for a full year.

Confidence: How will they sell to a prospect that has 20 more years of experience than them?

I’ve worked around some interesting sales characters over the years, and not everyone was an extrovert constantly brimming with confidence. But when put on the spot in a selling situation, everyone did rise to the occasion with the necessary amount of confidence.

If your sales development reps are getting busy C-level executives on the phone, they need to command that call with confidence or they aren’t going to get far with a sales conversation. Even the slightest bit of hesitation with high-level execs will cause you to lose ’em.

My suggestion is to role play with any candidate to see how their confidence projects over the phone. We’ve been surprised with folks who were very confident in the interview and blew it on a role play, and vice versa.

Curiosity: Are they asking you questions that make you feel like you’re being interviewed?

Outside of the common HR questions, such as salary and hours, what are they asking during the interview that they may not have been able to glean from the website? Do they strive to know more than the basics of the role? Are they asking about you and how you ended up in the role you’re in? Are they curious about other sales reps in the company, and what makes the most successful ones productive? After training, are they interested in knowing what you feel is necessary for them to ramp up quickly?

If your sales development candidates are showing a genuine interest in the job, then they should be prepared for the grind. No guarantees that they’ll actually succeed, but a deep-seated curiosity will help them along the way as it’s a staple to the nature of the job.

When interviewing sales development candidates, remember the 3 C’s: commitment, confidence, and curiosity. This criteria will help you distinguish sales rockstars from those who will quickly burn out or ultimately decide sales isn’t for them.

What have you found to be the most common traits among your successful sales development reps? Do they have commitment, confidence, and curiosity – or is there something else that matters more? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.