Winning Sales Hiring Game Plan: Reasons to Conduct a “Ride Along” or “Shadow Day” With Potential Sales Rep Candidates

ShadowOnce you (or your trusted sales professional recruiting firm) has waded through resumes, and completed preliminary interviews to identify only the best pool of candidates for your sales position, the proverbial finish line is well within sight. Congratulations!

However, before you completely cross that finish line, it’s worth considering going the “extra mile” to ensure that the candidate you’re prepared to hire is indeed going to be a strong addition to your team. Fortunately, this last leg of the journey isn’t anything close to having to run an extra mile. In fact, it’s more akin to an extra 50-yard dash. But since you’re filling an instrumental role, it’s worth the few extra steps.

In this case, we’re talking about hosting your potential sales representative on a “ride-along” or “shadow day.” In other words, you’ll be giving your potential candidate a hands-on trial run at the position for which he or she is being vetted. Conducting a ride-along or shadow day will give you metaphorical courtside seats, as to how the potential sale rep or sales manager handles day-to-day tasks and interactions, the types of ideas he or she contributes, and how the candidate might fit into the overall environment and workflow of your business.

Of course, a shadow/ride-along day is best conducted after a final interview is complete and you are convinced that the remaining candidate(s) will be the right fit for your sales position. This is particularly true, if you’re recruiting a passive candidate, as they may need to take a few hours off, from their current position.

All the same, in addition to allowing existing team members, sales managers and the potential candidate to have the chance to experience a future day-in-the life of their new sales position, shadow days and ride-along days are useful for several other practical reasons including:

  • Providing an opportunity for an in-the-field sales trial

Providing a ride-along experience for your potential sale rep provides them with the opportunity to spend time in the field with a top producing and/or senior sales rep—allowing the candidate to get a true sense of the day-to-day responsibilities that are required in the position, as well as the types of customers your business serves.

  • Learning how the day-to-day office duties are performed

Inviting a potential sales rep or manager to spend a few hours shadowing the office allows him or her to:

  • See how inside sales are performed
  • Become familiar with other positions within your company and how hierarchy and collaboration is structured
  • Understand daily workflow and processes
  • Become generally familiar, or reacquainted with regularly utilized software
  • Get a feel for incoming and outgoing calls
  • Interact with various potential-coworkers, seeing how he or she fits in among them


  • Assessing a candidate’s contributions and potential

While the candidate gets the opportunity to understand the office’s inner workings; the employer also has the chance to assess the candidate’s interactions, contributions, and overall fit with other employees and within the company. Does the candidate ask thoughtful questions? Does the candidate contribute to a positive and productive professional atmosphere? Does the candidate share insight and ideas? Does the candidate take instruction well?

A shadow-day or ride-along day can be useful not only for employers but also for potential top sales candidates as well. A few hours of shadowing can confirm the potential you see within a candidate or alert you to qualities and characteristics you might not have assessed in the traditional interview setting. Either way, both the employer and the candidate will win, in their own way.

Andy Wright is the owner and an active recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Andy began his recruiting career in 2003, and has a proven track record of helping companies both large and small increase sales team retention and productivity through recruiting top talent.  Prior to launching Grapevine in December of 2011, Andy held key leadership positions for two Twin Cities-based search firms, training and managing teams of recruiters while developing new business and managing national account relationships. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or