What is one interview question you should ask a sales role candidate?
To help you know the right questions to ask sales candidates in a job interview, we asked sales hiring managers, recruiters and business leaders this question for their best insights. There are several interview questions presented that would help you determine how best job candidates fit the sales role you are interviewing them for.
Here are 15 interview questions these leaders ask sales candidates:
- Who is Your Favorite or Inspirational Salesperson and Why?
- What Was the Biggest Mistake You Made With a Prospect?
- How Have You Collaborated With Another Sales Rep?
- Ask the Candidate to Sell You an Item You Show Them
- How Do You Like to Be Sold To?
- What Do You Like About Our Products?
- What is the Most Difficult Negotiation You’ve Ever Been Through?
- How Will You Build a Relationship With a Client?
- What Sources Do You Use to Generate Leads?
- Ask About How They Handled Prior Setbacks
- What is Your Favorite Sales Tool or Software to Use?
- What Did Your Last Product or Service Do for Customers?
- How Has COVID-19 Forced You to Adapt Your Sales Process?
- How Do You Handle Challenging Customers?
- What’s Your Team’s Biggest Challenge This Year?
Who is Your Favorite or Inspirational Salesperson and Why?
One interview question I like to ask someone applying for a sales job is “Who is your favorite or inspirational salesperson and why?” Their answer could be someone they grew up with that ran a local shop or it could be a character in a movie. However, their answer will always reveal something about their personality and how they view sales. The “why” part of the question is just as important as the answer so I listen closely to that.
Baruch Labunski, CEO, Rank Secure
What Was the Biggest Mistake You Made With a Prospect?
“What was the biggest mistake you made when talking with a prospect? What was your biggest takeaway from that experience?” Even the most excellent salespeople have a negative experience at least once in their sales career. These experiences give great lessons that sales professionals can use to improve their skills and expertise. The question seeks to understand how a candidate manages failures. If they handled it perfectly, they are an excellent addition to the workforce. However, it is also worth hiring someone if they handled it poorly but learned from the experience.
Tristan Buenconsejo, Founder and Managing Director, TriBu LinkBuilding
How Have You Collaborated With Another Sales Rep?
“Tell a story about how you effectively collaborated with another sales representative?“ We all know that sales is a competitive and numbers driven business but teamwork remains a vital component of any competent sales team. Asking a question such as this gives you insight into the candidate’s team skills as well as their ability to balance collaboration with competition.
Ubaldo Perez, CEO, Hush Anesthetic
Ask the Candidate to Sell You an Item You Show Them
I like to catch a candidate off guard with a little exercise. I pick something up off of my desk – a stapler, a paperweight, a picture frame, anything – and I ask them to sell it to me. This little exercise gives a candidate the opportunity to show me they can think on their feet. It’s less about how they do with the “sale,” and more about whether they get rattled at all, or take it in good stride. If a candidate is game to give it a try, that speaks well of their comfort in a situation that requires them to improvise
Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager, Patriot Coolers
How Do You Like to Be Sold To?
A good salesmanship is a delicate balance of art and science – they need to have the passion and drive to sell, but also the understanding of what makes people tick. So, if you’re looking for a candidate to fill a sales role, one question you could ask them is “How do you like to be sold to?”. This question can help you understand if the candidate has empathy, which is essential for being successful in sales. If they start talking about high-pressure tactics or spouting off a list of features, it’s a sign that they might not be the right fit for the job. However, if they talk about understanding what the customer needs and wants, and tailoring their approach accordingly, then you’ve found yourself a salesman (or woman) with some potential.
Travis Lindemoen, Managing Director, nexus IT group
What Do You Like About Our Products?
“What do you like about our products?” is a good question to ask. Only those that believe in and understand your mission will make quality salespeople. Customers can spot fake a mile away and smarmy sales pitchy spiels are unappealing. Therefore, take your time making sure sales candidates understand why you do what you do, what makes your products special and the vision for your business. All of these factors can make or break a sales team.
Erin Banta, Co-founder & CEO, Pepper
What is the Most Difficult Negotiation You’ve Ever Been Through?
“What is the most difficult negotiation you have ever been through?” This question certainly requires more than just theoretical knowledge; it requires showing the ability to solve challenges, decision making, and tell in detail the action taken, how it happened, and how the person excelled at it. In summary, this question can bring an answer that will help the interviewer to assess the three crucial pillars: knowledge, skills, and attitude of the candidate.
Ricardo von Groll, Manager, Talentify
How Will You Build a Relationship With a Client?
One of the best questions you can ask a sales applicant is “How will you build a relationship with a client?” Building client relationships is the most important part of being in sales and discovering whether the applicant has the ability is important to find out during the interview. You can also judge some of their character with the answer to the question. Some will show their shady side in the answer while those with true character will demonstrate that in the answer.
Fadi Swaida, CEO, Halton Village Dental
What Sources Do You Use to Generate Leads?
“What sources do you use to generate leads?” This is, in my opinion, the most crucial sales interview question you can ask because it reveals, among other things, whether or not the candidate is naturally inquisitive, which is a crucial quality in a good salesperson. A salesperson who genuinely cares about their customers will ask questions and show an interest in their problems.
Max Whiteside, SEO & Content Lead, Breaking Muscle
Ask About How They Handled Prior Setbacks
To learn more about your sales candidates, you should ask them about prior situations and how they handled them. For example, you could ask about a time when a candidate did not close a sale in a previous role and what they learned from that situation. Depending on how they answer, you will be able to learn more about this candidate’s problem-solving skills, which would give you an idea of how they would apply these skills in a role at your company.
Drew Sherman, Director of Marketing & Communications, Carvaygo
What is Your Favorite Sales Tool or Software to Use?
One question that I find very valuable is “What is your favorite sales tool or software to use.” Candidates that have experience in sales will be able to share with you the best tools or software they’ve used to close deals. While you can judge how much experience and knowledge they have based on their answer, the real value comes after the interview. Whether you decided to extend an offer or not to this candidate, you potentially have discovered a new tool for your sales team.
There have been numerous instances throughout my career when I discovered a new sales tool and implemented it into our department to better assist our sales team. No matter how much time you spend surfing on all the up-and-coming sales software there will be a few that slip past. Asking a sales role candidate what their favorite sales tool is helps keep your sales team ahead of the curve while also asking a valid question that will help your decision-making on a candidate.
Seth Newman, Director, SportingSmiles
What Did Your Last Product or Service Do for Customers?
“What did your last product/service do for your customers?” is a must-ask sales interview question. Their answer will say a lot about how they connect with their work. A good salesperson will respond right away with benefits, sales points, etc. This shows they are receptive and willing to learn about a product, not just memorizing a sales pitch for it.
Chris Coote, Founder & CEO, California Honey Vapes
How Has COVID-19 Forced You to Adapt Your Sales Process?
“How has COVID-19 forced you to adapt your sales process?” This is a very relevant question that helps one figure out both a candidate’s ability to innovate and tailor their temperament to new landscapes. Although things have opened back up, so much of sales is now done through technology that a question such as this is a great insight into how a candidate deals with change.
Patrick Robinson, Founder & CEO, Paskho
How Do You Handle Challenging Customers?
“When faced with a challenging customer, what is your approach in finding a solution?” This is a great question to ask candidates because it allows them to highlight their qualities and attributes. It also shows how they are able to problem solve in different kinds of scenarios. A customer is more likely to accept a sale offer if they feel their questions and concerns are genuinely being answered.
Lyudmyla Dobrynina, Head of Marketing, Optimeal
What’s Your Team’s Biggest Challenge This Year?
“What’s your team’s biggest challenge this year?” If you’re interviewing someone for a sales role, I think this is the most crucial question you can ask them since it demonstrates that you care more about the team’s success than your own. Another problem is that many new employees have unrealistic expectations when they start at their new job. By asking this, you’ll come off as experienced and well-considered because of the message you’ll be sending about your expectations.
Tiffany Payne, Chief Marketing Officer, iFlooded Restoration
What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers for sales? ›
- Where do you see your career heading in five to 10 years?
- What motivates you when you're at work?
- What makes you a good sales representative?
- Why did you apply for this position?
- How do you think our company can improve?
- Do you have any questions that you want to ask me?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you know about our company?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What unique qualities or abilities would you bring to this job?
- What are your major strengths and weaknesses?
- How long do you plan to stay at our company?
- Tell us a Bit About Yourself. ...
- Tell us About your Most Successful Sale to Date. ...
- Are you Good at Making Cold Calls? ...
- Tell me About a Time When you Encountered Failure. ...
- Tell me About your Short-Term and Long-Term Career Goals.
- Why are you interested in sales?
- What scares you about being a sales rep?
- What keeps you going when you're having a bad day?
- How do you keep a smile on your face when you're having a tough day?
- What motivates you more, money or praise?
- What do you need to be successful?
- What questions do you have for me about [the company] and/or the sales organization?
- What makes a great sales leader?
- Your first 30/60/90 days. ...
- What kind of sales leader are you? ...
- How would you describe the ideal sales culture? ...
- Largest team/smallest team built or managed?
Sales Questions to Ask #1: Tell me more about that challenge. This is a really simple question—and yes, I know it's technically a statement—but it's one of the most powerful sales questions out there nonetheless.What are 5 key selling points in an interview? ›
Aim for at least five main points —these can be areas of expertise, key accomplishments, education or training, soft skills, personality qualities, and/or other strengths. For each of these, write a proof statement.What are the 10 most frequently asked interview questions? ›
- Tell me something about yourself.
- How did you hear about this position?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why did you decide to apply for this position?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you know about this company/organization?
- Tell Me About Yourself. This completely open-ended opportunity to talk about yourself throws a lot of people off. ...
- What is Your Greatest Weakness? ...
- Tell Me About a Time You Failed. ...
- Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
There are three main types of questions sales reps can ask to do this: open-ended, probing, and confirming (O-P-C) questions.
What are situational questions for a sales rep interview? ›
- How would you handle a lead who is not ready to close? ...
- How would you react if a supervisor criticized your work? ...
- If hired for this position, what would your priorities be during your first month?
You can mention unique technical skills/hard skills, soft skills, key personality traits, experiences, personal attributes, or any other factor that makes you an exceptional candidate… and different from other job seekers You could also mention a reason that you're passionate about this industry/work, if that's true.What is the star technique in interviews? ›
The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.What questions are asked in the third round of sales interview? ›
At the end of the third interview, you are expected to ask more in-depth questions such as "Who held this position before and where are they now?" and "What is the most challenging problem the person in this position needs to solve?" The third interview is also an appropriate place to begin salary talks.How do you interview a senior sales person? ›
- What advice would you give to an inexperienced sales representative who was struggling to meet sales quotas? ...
- What is the importance of continually expanding your professional knowledge? ...
- How would you go about generating quality leads at an industry event?
- “How Did You Hear About Us?” ...
- “Are You the Decision-Maker?” ...
- “What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?” ...
- “Why Are You Solving This Problem Now?” ...
- “What Have You Tried in the Past?” ...
- “Is Doing Nothing an Option?” ...
- “What Made You Interested in Us/Our Brand?”
STRATEGIC QUESTIONING is the skill of asking the questions that will make a difference. It is a powerful tool for personal and social change. It is a tool for giving service to any issue ... as it helps people discover their own strategies and ideas for change.How do you generate leads in sales interview questions? ›
- Outline your experience using digital marketing tools for lead generation. ...
- Describe some of the biggest mistakes you have made in your career as a lead generator. ...
- Have you ever changed your lead generation strategy because of changes in the market?
Solution- and Feeling-Based Questions. Needs-Based Questions. Feature-Benefit Questions. Objection-Testing Questions.What is a great ice breaker question for sales? ›
Sales Ice Breakers for Building Trust
- What's on your mind?
- How's your family?
- How's your business?
- What do you like most about your business?
- Who or what inspires you professionally and personally?
What are the unique selling points of a candidate? ›
A common term used to describe your career story is your unique selling proposition, or USP. Your USP positions you in the candidate market based on your personal strengths, skills, experience and value. It spells out why an employer should select you above all other candidates.What three unique selling points are offered? ›
- Products. Establishes the business's claim as the provider of a product or service superior to what their competitors provide. ...
- Prices. ...
- Make it short.
- Make it clear.
- Explain who your customers are.
- Explain the problem they're facing.
- Explain how your product addresses their needs.
- Describe what success will look like as a result of using your product.
2. Why do we need the 6 Cs? The hiring panel may ask you about the six core values to assess your knowledge. The 6 Cs – care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment, competence - are a central part of 'Compassion in Practice'.What are the 5 hardest interview questions and answers? ›
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Why should we hire you?
- What's something that you didn't like about your last job?
- Why do you want this job?
- How do you deal with conflict with a co-worker?
- Here's an answer for you.
- Practice Good Nonverbal Communication. ...
- Dress for the Job or Company. ...
- Listen. ...
- Don't Talk Too Much. ...
- Don't Be Too Familiar. ...
- Use Appropriate Language. ...
- Don't Be Cocky. ...
- Take Care to Answer the Questions.
- Arriving late or too early.
- Inappropriate attire.
- Using your cellphone.
- Not doing company research.
- Losing your focus.
- Unsure of resume facts.
- Talking too much.
- Speaking poorly of previous employers.
- 1) Avoid talking about what you're not.
- 2) Tell a story about yourself.
- 3) Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
- 4) Don't hide who you are.
- 5) Pose thoughtful questions to your hiring manager.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why are you interested in working for this company?
- Tell me about your education.
- Why have you chosen this particular field?
- Describe your best/worst boss.
- In a job, what interests you most/least?
- What is your major weakness?
Here's it is: What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far? To see why this simple question is so powerful, imagine you're the candidate and I've just asked you this question. What accomplishment would you select?
What are the 3 C's of interview questions? ›
When it comes to interviewing, confidence, competence, and credibility are essential tools for success and often elude even the most experienced investigators.What are the 5 common categories of interview questions? ›
- Behavioural Questions.
- Communication Questions.
- Opinion Questions.
- Performance-Based Questions.
- The Basic Information Questions.
- The Resumé Questions.
- The Situational Questions.
- The Weakness Questions.
- The Contribution Questions.
- The Abstract Questions.
The Three A's of Sales:
The sales profession is not the issue itself; it is the attitude, approach, and activity that you have toward the sales process that impacts your understanding and experience of it.
The rule of three for goal setting: Set goals that are (1) realistic (2) attainable and (3) measurable. People without goals drift aimlessly through life. Don't confuse goals with dreams. Goals will bring your life's energy into focus.What are the four A's of sales in order? ›
The "four A's" of sales letters are attention, appeal, application, and action.What can I ask in a sales interview? ›
- What is your highest priority in the next six months, and how could someone like me help? ...
- Why do your customers buy from you and why don't they buy from you? ...
- What are the characteristics of your top people? ...
- Tell me about the history/growth of the company.
- Give me an example of a time you had to implement an unpopular or difficult change for your team. ...
- Describe an example of a high-stress situation and how you overcame it. ...
- Tell me about your greatest success in sales, how did you achieve it? ...
- Describe the most awkward or challenging sales call you have ever had.
- Approach it like a sales meeting. ...
- Do your research. ...
- Questions to prepare for. ...
- Take evidence of your achievements. ...
- Take your contact book. ...
- Have a list of questions ready. ...
- Close the deal.
Standing by your word shows honesty, integrity, and dependability, all of which are intangible skills that can set you apart from other candidates.
What is a good interview answer for why sales? ›
Example: “Having worked with web-based applications in the past, I'm in a unique position to identify what customers need at every level. I also value customer relationships. Some of my biggest sales came from long-time clients who trusted me enough to invest in upgrades when I recommended a new package.”What would a sales manager ask in an interview? ›
Leadership-Style Interview Questions for Sales Managers
What is the best motivator for a sales team? How would you describe your management style? How do you set goals, track progress, and ensure performance for and from your team? How do you recognize performance?
More importantly in this case it's an easy amount of topics to remember. So my three Ps of interview preparation are, past, people and personal, but more on these shortly.What are some good questions to ask the VP of sales? ›
- What makes you good at sales and business development? ...
- What makes you an effective leader? ...
- What market trends do you feel are most crucial today? ...
- How do you envision the composition of the sales operations team?
- Be systematic about generating leads. ...
- Know your sales cycle. ...
- Know your numbers. ...
- Actively seek referrals. ...
- Focus on securing appointments. ...
- Get ready for objections. ...
- Follow up and listen.