PODCAST 81: Science Behind Pre-Employment Testing w/ Amyra Rand

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This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we speak with Amyra Rand, VP of Sales & Strategic Partnerships at Criteria Corp.

Amyra is also a member of the Revenue Collective & the Chapter VP at the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals; she is an MBA from Pepperdine. We discuss how employee testing can improve retention, accelerate onboarding, and ensure qualified candidates reach the top of the applicant pool.

If you missed episode 80 , check it out here: PODCAST 80: Aligning Revenue Strategy – Death of MQL W/ Catie Ivey

What You’ll Learn

  • Who is Amyra Rand & what is Criteria Corp
  • Employee testing & how it helps businesses determine top talent
  • Becoming your own CEO

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

Show Introduction

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to The Sales Hacker podcast. We’ve got a great show for you today. We’ve got Amyra Rand, who’s the Vice President of Sales & Strategic Partnerships for a Criteria Corp. The main thing we’re going to be talking about is this concept of testing versus the traditional job application process, where you create a long job description, people send in their resume through NATS, and you evaluate that.

Now before we get there, we want to thank our sponsors. First off, Vidyard. Now email isn’t dead, but man is it boring. Add video to emails to stand out in the inbox, for free, with Vidyard. Vidyard helps you easily record, send and track who is viewing your video content in three easy steps. Go to vidyard.com/saleshacker for more information.

Our second sponsor is Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform that enables sales reps to humanize their communications at scale, from automating the soul-sucking manual work that eats up selling time to providing action-oriented tips on what communications are working best. Outreach has your back.

Now, without further ado, let’s listen to this interview with Amyra Rand.

About Amyra Rand & Criteria Corp [4:05]

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to The Sales Hacker podcast. We’re incredibly excited today to have Amyra Rand on the show.

Amyra is a member of the Los Angeles Revenue Collective but also a long time sales executive and has a deep experience in building and growing world class sales teams. She’s currently the Vice President of Sales & Strategic Partnerships at Criteria Corporation, and she spent the last 15 years of her career doing what I just mentioned, growing and scaling sales teams. She’s has an emphasis on technology startups and leading inside teams. She’s worked in the human capital management, healthcare IT, and ERP industries. Her background in the HR recruiting space combined with her years of experience sourcing, interviewing, and hiring sales people gives her a unique perspective on delivering a best-in-class recruiting experience for candidates and hiring managers. Amyra welcome to the show.

Amyra Rand: Thank you for having me.

Sam Jacobs: In your words, what does Criteria Corporation do?

Amyra Rand: We are all about people science; we create aptitude personality and skills tests that help hiring managers, chief people officer, and organizations find top talent in their candidate pools by using our assessments. So we really try to up the game when it comes to hiring great people and really finding good talent overall in your candidate pools.

Sam Jacobs How big is the company, roughly. from an AR revenue perspective?

Amyra Rand: We’re right around that $25 million mark AR.

Sam Jacobs: And how big is the organization from a headcount perspective?

Amyra Rand: I think we just hit 90 people or so. And when I started, I was employee number 27. And that was three and a half years ago.

The Science Behind Employee Testing

Sam Jacobs: So, what is the science behind the assessment, and what are the factors you’re testing for?

Amyra Rand: We encourage people to use testing as early as possible in the process. The goal is to collect as much objective data as possible as you’re hiring people. Here at Criteria Corp, for example, we give our candidates an aptitude assessment to ensure we’re finding people who have the right problem-solving and critical thinking skills. We also give them a test to measure whether they’re a good fit for the role, whether they’re an engineer, whether they’re innovative, whether they think out of the box, or whether they’re on the sales side, and they’re outgoing, they enjoy talking to people, and they’re able to have difficult conversations. So we give an aptitude tests and a personality test. And we use that objective data to then inform our decision — in combination with the resume — to determine: Do we want to bring this person on site? Do we want to bring them in? Do we want to have a phone interview? or whatever the process may be for that particular role.

The more data you have on the candidate, the better. Resumes can be really misleading, especially in sales. I’ve never interviewed anybody that wasn’t in the top three in performance and didn’t hit 100% of their target. Funny how that happens.

Also, we actually have almost a 50/50 split of male and female on our sales team, which is kind of unheard of, especially in tech. So we’re really excited to see how much our testers have helped us have more diversity on our team overall.

Why Sales Teams Usually Have an Uneven Distribution of Men & Women

Sam Jacobs: Do you think the uneven distribution of men and women in the sales world is because companies aren’t looking in the right places for female candidates, or their interview process is unfairly filtering out female candidates?

Amyra Rand: I think it’s a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B. I think oftentimes, you find that your candidate pool is swayed towards having males in your candidate pool. And that could be for a number of reasons, the places that you’re looking, oftentimes we’re looking for traditional sales experience in our job descriptions. And so maybe changing your job description, changing the requirements that you might be looking for, for somebody to qualify for the job. Because if you’re looking for a pool of people that has sales experience, by default, you’re going to have less females in that pool because they need to have sales experience. So we look for some non-traditional experience.

The Surprising Truth About What Makes a Sales Candidate Successful (According to Science)

Sam Jacobs: Have you run testing against your testing — in other words, have you run correlations against personality attributes relative to your test that seemed to inform good production when it comes to sales talent? Also, is there anything surprising, specifically around personality type, that emerged from the data?

Amyra Rand: Validity Testing: So we do local validity studies all the time. So in terms of minimizing adverse impact, we use the UGSP, which are kind of the guidelines for testing. Also, all of our testing is scientifically validated. We do a ton of local validity studies, and we do this with some of the largest companies in the world. We look at your higher, medium, and your low performers, and an organization with a statistically significant sample. We get some objective and subjective data around how those performers do in the role. And then we give them the tests.

And then we consider: “Do your top performers actually score better or differently on the assessments?”

Surprising: One of the things I found most surprising: A lot of people will ask, “should I just look at my high performers?” And the answer is no, because then I’m looking at this in a bubble, and very myopically. For example: We found that people who were high performers had really high motivation, but an equal number of low performers had high motivation. So, motivation isn’t actually a direct contributor to success in the role.

A lot of people think that personality is such a big driver, which it absolutely is specifically for sales, as well as a number of other roles. But the attitude piece is actually really, really critical as well.

Testing Helps Accelerate the Hiring Process

Sam Jacobs: Are you able to accelerate the process from application to job offer because of the testing?

Amyra Rand: I’ve reduced my interviewing time materially. Oftentimes, as a hiring manager, we’re doing our own hiring. I only have time to go through normally 25 to 50 resumes, let’s say. So we get the 25 to 51st people that apply. Well, number 51 might be the best candidate in the world, and I may miss out on them. Testing allows you to bring the cream to the top. And you actually can identify people later on in the process. And you can bring them in maybe at the 11th hour. You may have gotten your five phone interviews teed up, but you think, “Ooh. This one looks really good. I’m going to reach out to them.” You can do that, because you get the test results right away. You get the resume, and you’re like, “hey, you look amazing. Can I get you on a phone interview today?” So you’re actually able to reach out to people a lot more quickly and get them in and find people later that might be laggards in terms of applying for your role.

Why You Need to Be the CEO of Your Own Career

Sam Jacobs: When did you learn you needed to be the CEO of your own career?

Amyra Rand: I actually had a great mentor, and she kind of helped map it out for me. — “How do you get from A to B?” You look at A and say, “Where am I? What are the skills I have? What do I do really well? What do I enjoy doing on a daily basis?” Then, you say, “OK, here’s where I want to go.” And first you need to validate whether or not that’s actually where you want to go. And you do that by interviewing people. You do that by talking to people that are currently on the job. You do that by talking to hiring managers, and asking them “What do you look for?” and you basically build out a profile. You understand your gaps, and then you build a plan to make up for those gaps.

So every job I take from A to B, I’m looking at filling gaps in my resume. I’m

looking at filling gaps in those skills that people are looking for as the hiring managers.

‘At Every Job, I’m Looking at Filling Gaps’ — Amyra Rand

Sam Jacobs: What are some of the gaps you’ve filled over the years?

Amyra Rand: With every job I’ve had, I add something new to what I do. So for example, I got my MBA, and when I went to go get my MBA, of course you have a ton of options in terms of your emphasis, and I got my emphasis in finance — because that was something I was really uncomfortable talking about with my CFO.

One More Thing From Amyra, About Being Vulnerable as a Leader:

Amyra Rand: I would describe myself as very vulnerable, and I am 100% a servant leader. And I don’t think people necessarily view vulnerability as a leadership trait. Some people do, some people don’t. For me, I don’t know how you’d be a good leader without being vulnerable.

Sam’s Corner

Sam Jacobs: Hi everybody. This is Sam’s corner. Love that conversation with Amyra Rand. There’s a couple things that jump out: First, of course, we spent a long time talking about testing. And testing enables you to strip out unconscious bias and to test for aptitude and personality.

Second thing I would say is that testing allows you to accelerate your recruiting process, because you can know they’re going to be a good fit in an objective way. Maybe you can move more quickly through the rest of the interviews. Amyra mentioned that she spends a lot less time on phone screens now because she has a testing framework in place.

Finally, the other big thing that we talked about is really about leadership and being the CEO of your own career and why authenticity is so important. Amyra brings her whole self to work. She’s vulnerable. She embraces who she is, she doesn’t try to fit herself into a specific mode, and that rundowns to her benefit.

What We Learned

  • Who is Amyra Rand & what is Criteria Corp
  • Employee testing & how it helps businesses determine top talent
  • Becoming your own CEO

Don’t miss episode 82

I hope you enjoyed the show. Before we go, let’s thank our sponsors. Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform and Vidyard. Vidyard helps you easily record, send, and track who is viewing your video content in real time in three easy steps. Email isn’t dead, but it sure is boring. Add video to your emails to stand out in the inbox with Vidyard.

If you want to reach out to me with feedback, you can reach me on LinkedIn. If you haven’t rated the show, please give us five stars on the iTunes rating system so that we can remain in business and continue to bring you this show.

As always, thanks so much for listening, I’ll talk to you next time.

This is a sponsored guest post from a Sales Hacker partner.

Sam Jacobs is the Founder of Aqueduct Revenue Advisors and the New York Revenue Collective and regarded as one of the top start-up CROs in the tech community.

He has has over 15 years of experience scaling companies from post-revenue to ~$300M, has helped raise over $400M in institutional capital, and has helped companies of all sizes achieve an average annualized revenue growth rate of 48% over the last 15 years.