Find the Best Candidate with These Sales Interview Questions

Salespeople know exactly how to sell a product. When it comes to selling themselves, they are obviously very well prepared. If you want to find the right person amidst a number of experienced applicants for the position you have, you have to know exactly what to look for.

The main goal of any interview is to assess the qualifications of a candidate, to find out whether their personal qualities fit into your team, and to learn how they will be able to make your company better. In order to hit all these targets, the interview questions for sales position have to be creative and detailed.

Here is all you need to know to conduct the most effective interview:

Elements of a Sales Interview

From the perspective of an applicant, a typical sales interview is very similar to a sale they need to land. This is why their behavior during your conversation can tell you a lot about how good they are at their job. Usually, the interview for a salesperson consists of three important stages: 

  • Presenting their most applicable traits (describing the advantages of the product);
  • Highlighting the profit you would gain from hiring them (assuring that the commodity would cover all your needs);
  • Waiting for a response and gaining feedback (getting the deal).

When it comes to hiring a salesperson, a CV or resume can’t provide you with enough information to find out whether the person is truly suitable for the job. That’s why it is your responsibility to find the best sales interview questions for a candidate to prove themselves.

How to Prepare for a Salesperson Evaluation

The sales rep is a job that requires creative thinking and unconventional approach. That’s why, if you want to find a competent employee, you would need to be creative in your approach, too. Try to avoid using the most common sales interview questions, and if you do – give them a creative spin. Keep up with the latest trends in the industry – you should be aware of whether or not the applicant is up-to-date on their techniques.

You should not forget that the interview is a dialogue. Your other task is to answer all the questions the applicant might have about the specifics of the job and about the company overall. Be ready to provide all the latest data on your company’s successes and provide information about people who hold similar jobs. Remember, you are the face of the company – the more competent you look, the better.

Effective Answers to Common Sales Interview Questions

There are a number of different types of sales position interview questions. Each of them is aimed to get a different type of read on the sales candidate, which means that they are equally important. You should try to include a couple of questions from each category.

Skill-Based Questions

In this category, you should ask questions focusing on the skills a person would need to have for this job. Examples of sales specialist interview questions from this category are:

1. What are the essential questions you ask every potential buyer?

Use this question to check whether the candidate has the ability to hold the customer’s attention.

2. What sources do you use to learn new skills and what was the last skill you learned?

The ability to learn new tricks and methods is a basic requirement in any fast-paced industry, especially when it comes to sales.

3. How do you involve social media in your strategy?

Social media is everywhere and is quickly becoming one of the most popular methods of online selling. If an applicant doesn’t use social media in any way, it’s definitely a red flag.

sales manager interview questions

Situational Questions

This type of questions allows you to check how the interviewee can use the skills they have in real-life circumstances. Questions to ask in a sales interview from this category include:

1. When should you stop pursuing a sale?

Every person has their boundaries, and if they say they don’t – they are probably lying. Of course, a good salesperson should be stubborn, but they should not cross the line.

2. How do you handle a few losses in a row?

Some people don’t handle defeat very well; after a few losses, they might give up. You should look for people that turn things back around and try to learn a lesson from their mistakes.

3. Sell me something.

This is one of the most popular sales specialist interview questions, so it might be interesting to add something to it (“Sell me whatever is inside your pocket”). Your job is to check if the person has the skills — don’t try to put them in a corner they can’t get out of.

Fit and Motivation Questions

These questions are aimed to determine why the applicant wants to be a part of your team and what they look for in this position. They include:

1. What is your ultimate goal?

Although a bit blunt, this question allows you to evaluate whether the applicant’s aspirations match the potential growth you can offer. 

2. What are your most and least favorite parts of the job?

This question can help you to determine the strongest and weakest sides of a person.

3. Tell me about your previous manager and colleagues.

An honest answer can provide you with an outlook on the contenders’ teamwork and communication skills.

Questions for Different Positions

If you’re looking for a salesperson in a highly specific area, you need to ask specific questions about this area. A person does not need to know explicit details, but at least some general knowledge is required. Ask someone who holds a similar position in the same area what questions an applicant has to know the answers to.

sales manager interview questions

What to Look for in Your Candidate’s Answers

Based on these questions, how do you know if a person is suitable for the job? Here is the most important information you need to garner from their answers:

  • Whether or not the person has the skills needed;
  • Whether they understand the responsibilities they would have;
  • Whether they are satisfied with the potential growth they get and whether they will stay loyal to your company;
  • Whether they are a team player or a loner (both answers are acceptable, depending on the rest of your team).

Make sure you reach a mutual understanding and answer all the questions the candidate has for you, as well. 

How to Eliminate a Candidate

If the results of the interview are not satisfactory, it is better to be forward about it. This may seem blunt, but it is the only way you won’t waste anybody’s time. Make your final response personalized with as much feedback as possible. Don’t forget to thank the applicant for their time and give them hope for future opportunities.

Tips on How to Ask and Answer Questions

Now that you know which questions to ask, let’s talk about how you should ask them:

  • Keep your tone casual – make sure the person shows their best side, not an awkward nervous one;
  • Be friendly, but don’t get too personal;
  • Show your interest and ask follow-up questions;
  • Try to be accurate and specific when it comes to answering questions;
  • Encourage people to ask more questions, as you want to be on the same page as them.

Conclusion

Effective sales interview questions can simplify the hiring process. That’s why you need to be very careful when it comes to choosing them. Most interviewers gather a list of questions and answers for sales interview over the course of years, so don’t be discouraged if your first run is not as successful as you expected. Practice your interview, follow the trends and learn from your experience!

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