Why You Shouldn’t Hire Salespeople Using A Human Touch

No matter how many research studies show that using a data-based method for hiring sales reps is more objective, fair, and accurate compared to using subjective judgment, people still have a tendency to prefer a human touch when it comes to hiring.

Only a human being, and not a cold and impersonal algorithm, can truly understand a fellow human being. Right?

Let’s examine the common job candiBruceSpringsteen-Ideal-Candidate-Salespeopledate red flags that recruiters and hiring managers use and assess how well this claim holds up.

What happens when you hire with a human touch

But when the average job posting attracts hundreds of applications, we need something to help us narrow down the candidate pool.

So what’s wrong with eliminating job candidates based on these criteria?

Mostly, that they’re wrong: they’re just not valid methods for assessing the quality of a job candidate.

What the data tell us

Research finds that there are no differences in performance for employees with a history of long-term unemployment (i.e., greater than 6 months) and those without.

A study of over 100,000 job applicants found that there were there was no differences in an employee’s loyalty regardless of how many jobs he or she had previously: Job hoppers and non-job hoppers are equally likely to stay in their jobs.

Overqualified employees not only outperform their colleagues, but they are also less likely to quit as long as their needs are met otherwise.

We need to acknowledge that long-term unemployment and “job hopping” merely reflect the realities of today’s workplace – these circumstances are often completely out of the job seekers’ control.

Employers who are smart enough to tap into these neglected talent pools will create a huge competitive advantage. Let everyone else fight over the same passive, already-working-at-a-competitor job candidates.

The better alternative for sales hiring

Use data-based methods to assess sales job candidates. Surveys reveal that 49% of people lie on their resumes. Research tells us job interviews are a poor predictor of future job performance. Everyone knows resumes and interviews are unreliable but everyone uses them anyway.

Instead of guessing and being led astray by unsubstantiated “red flags,” why not allow the data do the job of predicting who the best salespeople are likely to be?

Research featured on the Harvard Business Review found that compared to human judgment, an algorithm increases the accuracy of selecting productive job candidates by more than 50%.


These data-based hiring methods include psychometric assessment of personal characteristics, which can account for 25% of the differences in job performance (that’s a lot!) and structured interviews, which are up to twice as effective at predicting job performance than unstructured ones.

The bottom line

Hiring with a human touch unfortunately often means hiring with a human bias.

Interested in finding out what the monetary benefits of using a data-based sales hiring system are? Read this.


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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min


  • BeeKaaay

    Are you sure you worded this correctly?

    Immediately underneath “What happens when you hire with a human touch”

    You list a bunch of stupid reasons people get rejected (i.e. treated without a human touch)

    The context says one thing but the list says another.

    • “Human touch” in this case refers to subjective judgment by a hiring manager rather than use a data-based approach.

      • BeeKaaay

        Then you need to word it properly.

        It should read

        “What happens when you DO NOT hire with a human touch”

        Every single one of those ELIMINATEDs is about using stereotypes or false information, which eliminates the human touch. It rejects people based on irrelevant criteria, and treats people as less than human – thus no human touch. “We do not care how much you rock at what you do, we’re rejecting you and treating you as less than human” is the message.

        But when you deal with relevant information, you bring back the humanity into the equation. You see the results the human being brings to the equation. Their character. Their skills. Their abilities. All the relevant stuff that makes them rock at the job you’re hiring for.

        Yes, you’re using an algorithm. A non-human method. But ironically, it treats people more humanly than the stereotyper.

        • When people talk about using a human touch in hiring, they mean having a person read their resume and talk to them. Unfortunately, all of these elimination criteria are considered “relevant information” when it comes to hiring – in fact, most of they are taken directly from surveys of recruiters.

          >Yes, you’re using an algorithm. A non-human method. But ironically, it treats people more humanly than the stereotype.

          Yes, exactly. An algorithm is a more fair and objective way to assess someone’s character, skills, and abilities because it avoids adding human bias. Some hiring managers and recruiters may be great at avoiding bias when it comes to hiring, but many of them aren’t because they’re only human, after all!

          • BeeKaaay

            “Unfortunately, all of these elimination criteria are considered “relevant information””

            So let me test this.

            Someone’s resume has an AOL or Hotmail e-mail address. Does this mean they are not “tech savvy” as the false stereotype goes? How is this relevant information?

            Someone’s graduation date is 20 years ago. Does this mean they are too old and all the negative stereotypes of older workers are correct? How is this relevant information?

            Someone is out of work due to massive layoffs in a bad economy. Tons of good talent lost their jobs in the dot com crash and the 2008 crash. Does this mean they are considered worthless as the negative stereotype goes? How is this relevant information?

            Recruiters and hiring managers who consider these “relevant information” are bad at what they do. They are an embarrassment to the industry they represent.

            Good recruiters don’t use false stereotypes, they stick to the relevant facts.

            ” An algorithm is a more fair and objective way to assess someone’s character, skills, and abilities because it avoids adding human bias”

            I agree totally.

            But someone has to make the decision to hire, and it won’t be the algorithm.