Most CEOs aren't as hardcore about hiring as Richard Rose of Dataflex, but then most CEOs can't boast a sales force thatroutinely outsells its industry average by a factor of 10.

To join the sales staff at Dataflex, a $275-million public company that sells computer equipment and services and regularlyappears on best-managed-company lists, candidates go through grueling in-your-face interviews with Rose. His goal is to find people withconfidence in their abilities, a willingness to take calculated risks, a great sense of humor, and nimble thinking.

Rose's assistant is instructed to give the brush-off to people who call the company's Edison, N.J., headquarters answering aDataflex ad. Only those who are persistent and insist that they're worth Rose's time clear the first hurdle. Then, says Rose, "Iam deliberately adversarial in the first interview." He puts candidates on the spot, tests their convictions, and tries tosee how honest they are about things like being motivated by money. He looks for honesty, tenacity, and thickness of skin. "Ifthey're too sensitive, they aren't going to do well around here." Rose, who cowrote a book about his tactics (How to Make aBuck and Still Be a Decent Human Being, HarperBusiness, 1992), concludes interviews by telling candidates to call him afterthey've thought the job over. "About half never work up the nerve," he reports.

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