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5 Tremendous Interview Questions For Sales Candidates

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5 tremendous interview questions for sales candidates

The goal of this question is twofold. First, you want to find out their management style and goals for their employees. They should touch on metrics for success, staff development, and executive communication.

You also want to understand how much research theyve done about your company and the sales organization. If they make sweeping statements about attracting more enterprise business when your website clearly states your mission is to help SMBs grow its probably a sign this candidate hasnt done their homework.

Question: What Is The Latest Sales Strategy Youve Tried

Change and innovation are commonplace in sales. Top performing sales reps dont get complacent. They are always looking for new strategies and tactics to use to close more deals and become more efficient.

Why Ask This Question?

Asking about the latest sales strategy a candidate has tried will give you insights into their drive and desire to improve. It will also let you know if they are up to date with industry news and trends. You can also gain insights into the sales tools and resources they have used and prefer.

Putting It All Together

Again, sales interviews are some of the toughest in the job market, but they dont have to be impossible. Just make sure you do your research on the company ahead of time, target your answers to the position youre applying for, and review sales interview questions in advance. That way, youll be ready to shine.

Nowgo get em!

And as alwaysgood luck!

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Whats One Critical Piece Of Feedback Youve Received That Was Really Difficult To Hear Why Was It Difficult And What Did You Do With That Information What Did You Learn About Yourself

As Mediums Head of People, Pema Lin-Moore typically asks this question in the career history portion of the interview. It gives me a glimpse into how a person responds to feedback thats out of line with how they see themselves or how they wish to be seen, she says. You get a sense of how self-reflective a person can be, how resilient they are, and the type of environment they’ve been operating in.

Nolan Church also similarly recommends probing into how a candidate deals with difficult feedback. I learn more about someone from this question than anything else I ask, says the Chief People Officer at Carta. It gives me insight into an area for development, how they respond to feedback, and their level of introspection, vulnerability and humility.

In addition to providing question #11, LendingHome co-founder and CEO Matt Humphrey submitted another excellent question that also fits in here, adding a slight twist: I always say We’ll ask about this in references, but I’d love to hear it from you as well: Very specifically, whats the most recent piece of critical feedback that you’ve gotten? he says.

Bring On The Right Talent In Your Next Sales Interview

Good Interview Questions to Ask

To hire a well-rounded sales rep, you have to ask the right mix of questions to see how a candidate really thinks. To find someone whos knowledgeable of the industry, passionate, and can communicate that enthusiasm to the customer, will improve your team as it grows.

We hope youll use this guide in your next round of interviews and find the candidates youve been looking for.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Originally published Aug 20, 2021 12:45:00 PM, updated August 20 2021


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More Sales Interview Questions

Here are 47 more interview questions for sales professionals:

  • Why did you choose a career in sales
  • Why are you interested in working for our company?
  • How do you keep yourself motivated?
  • How do you handle rejection?
  • At what point do you stop working with a potential client?
  • How comfortable are you with making cold calls?
  • How do you view collaboration within a sales team?
  • Tell me about a mistake youve made in sales and what youve learned from that mistake.
  • What do you like the least about sales?
  • What do you think is more important: new clients or long-term clients?
  • Can you describe your sales philosophy?
  • Which of your skills makes you particularly adept at sales?
  • Are there any training or educational opportunities that you feel would make you a better salesperson?
  • Describe the sales process from start to finish.
  • If youre given a lead that you were told was qualified, but it actually wasnt, how would you proceed?
  • If you received a call from a person that involved questions about an upcoming but not yet released product or service, how would you handle the conversation?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt a colleague stole a sale from you. What happened, and how did you react?
  • Have you ever taken a sale away from a colleague?
  • How would your last manager describe your sales skills? What about your teamwork skills?
  • Do you think your former coworkers would view you as a competitive or cooperative sales team member?
  • How do marketing and sales relate?
  • Tell Me About A Time You Collaborated Within The Sales Team And With Other Teams

    Sales jobs tend to attract lone-wolf personalities, but its important for reps to work well with each other.

    Competition over accounts and commissions doesnt do the company any good, and territory divisions dont always entirely prevent friction.

    Use this question to find candidates who understand that, at the end of the day, the sales team is just that: a team.

    The candidate also needs to be willing and able to work with people outside the sales team.

    I probably dont have to tell you that tension between sales and marketing is par for the course in todays tech sales funnels. While it may be common, its not ideal. When these two teams are truly dialed in, invested in each others success and appreciative of each others value, the skys the limit for your company.

    Thats why answers like, Ive never really had much use for marketing leads, or Ive found marketing doesnt really add much value, should be immediate red flags.

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    Typical Questions Asked In A Sales Interview

    Ace your sales interview with these helpful strategies for responding to interview questions, along with examples of common sales interview questions and sample answers. Review them to help frame your responses based on your own qualifications, skills, product knowledge, achievements, and sales experiences. In addition, review a list of questions to ask your interviewer.

    Question: What Is Your Best Piece Of Advice For Dealing With Objections During A Sales Call

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    Objections are part of the sales process. Clients are going to reject your offers and say no more often than not. There are many different ways you can handle objections some are more effective than others. This will shed some light into how they deal with conflict and their customer service skills.

    Why Ask This Question?

    Asking this question will tell you, the recruiter, a lot about a candidates approach to sales. Are they prepared for objections? Do they anticipate them? Or do they wing it? Youll also learn if their approach is in alignment with how your company typically deals with objections during the sales process.

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    What Skill Are You Still Missing

    The toxic answer: Toxic employees think they know it all and arent interested in spending their time learning new things. Beware of candidates who struggle to come up with an answer to this interview question.

    This interview question essentially asks candidates to disclose a weakness, and toxic employees may try to answer this question with a superficial answer. For example, they may say they need to learn how to disconnect from their job or how to be less of a perfectionist. These answers show that the candidate doesnt really have an interest in learning something new, and is just trying to look good in the interview.

    What to look for instead:

    Look for candidates who have a genuine interest in growing their skills and learning new things to improve continually. These candidates will recognize they are missing a skill that is relevant to the job or industry, such as coding or social media.

    Effective professionals may also be interested in learning a skill that isnt directly related to the job. These candidates love learning and have interests outside of work, which are valuable traits in the workplace.

    Hiring a toxic employee can be a costly mistake. Ask candidates the right interview questions during screening interviews to weed out potentially poisonous professionals and find the best person for the job.

    What Do You Want To Do Differently In Your Next Role

    When he asks this question, Instacart co-founder Max Mullen usually sees two kinds of responses and theres one camp that the best candidates usually fall into.

    I find that the best answers highlight what theyre running toward, rather than what theyre running from in their current job. If they launch into what they dont like about their boss or current company, that tells you a lot. It tests whether theyre a positive person and how they handle adversity, says Mullen.

    I also can often pick up on what interests them about our company specifically, and get a sense for how much research theyve done. Finally, it gets into motivations if they bring up how theyre looking for a more challenging opportunity, you can probe how they want to make an impact or the types of problems theyd love working on, he says.

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    Sales Interview Questions To Ask Sales Rep Candidates

    To build a strong sales organization, it’s imperative to find people who can hit quota, handle rejection, and be persistent without turning aggressive. Any sales hiring manager knows you cant just hire anyone, and the wrong person can keep your company from meeting important business goals.

    You already know the type of sales rep youre looking for, so we want to give you a resource that will help build your ideal team.

    Asking more in-depth questions will make the right candidates stand out in your next round of interviews. Thats why we put together this list of hiring-manager-approved sales interview questions that will help you find candidates who are a good fit for your organization and the sales profession.

    An effective interview question digs into the salesperson’s skills, knowledge, experience, personality, and/or motivation. It helps reveal whether they’ll be a good fit for the role, culture, and objectives.

    Lets go through the different types of interview questions you should ask your candidates.

    How Do You Organize Your Day

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    The correct answer is going to sound a little boring. Be boring. Sales jobs have plenty of excitement, but theres a daily grind to the work, too. It takes organizational skills and endurance to get to the thrilling moments. Interviewers want to know a candidate is willing to put in the hard, unglamorous work. I always ask about the average daily number of cold calls, how many result in appointments, and how many become customers, says Bruce A. Hurwitz, executive recruiter and career counselor for Hurwitz Strategic Staffing.

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    Hire In Groups If Possible

    While it might not always be possible given the size of your company, hiring in groups has some significant advantages.

    Having a group of new hires coming on at the same time can create an amazing environment for peer-to-peer learning.

    New hires ability to share tips and even commiserate to a degree with fellow new hires can increase their success rate and help lay an early foundation for trust and teamwork.

    If A Client Isnt Fully Satisfied And Tries To Demand A Discount Or Refund What Do You Do

    While most sales professionals hope that the product or service they support always meets customer expectations, that isnt how it usually plays out. Since thats the case, the hiring manager wants to know how youll handle it when the inevitable occurs.


    If a client demands a discount or refund based on a poor experience, my first step is to use my active listening skills to find out more about the issue. Are they struggling with a feature? Was a direction about how to use the product or service unclear? Did they receive a defective product? Is it buyers remorse? Did the purchase unexpectedly strain their budget?

    By finding out the cause of the dissatisfaction, I can identify viable solutions that make sense for the situation. For example, if a product arrived damaged or defective, I may offer to arrange for a free repair or replacement. If theyre struggling with using the product or service, providing helpful documentation, offering training, or similar steps may remedy the issue.

    My goal is to focus on creating a satisfied customer, so Ill explore every available avenue. While Ill aim to avoid discounts or refunds whenever possible, if one is legitimately the best choice and the move aligns with company policy Ill follow the approved procedure to handle the issue.

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    What Should Our Team Be Doing Differently That Could Yield 10x Improvement

    Meka Asonye leads the Startup & SMB sales org at Stripe, a group that advises venture-backed companies on their commerce, monetization and expansion strategies. Im looking for folks who have a bias for action and can think like an owner, he says. Can they think at the CEO level, beyond just the job theyre applying for?

    Sometimes, this question surfaces some real gems. We’re actually considering piloting one of the ideas a recent candidate mentioned. I’ve also had interviews where people have mentioned things that we have seriously considered but scrapped for various reasons, says Asonye.

    But when the answers are less than stellar, heres where candidates tend to go wrong:

    Ambitions aren’t lofty enough. Oftentimes I hear ideas that are a 10% improvement, not 10X. The temptation can be to offer non-controversial, minor tweaks to process, says Asonye.

    Cant think of any suggestions. This one is a big red flag for me, as I tend to see candidates in a second or third round interview, after the candidate has met with five to 10 people, says Asonye. They should be pretty well-versed in our company and product by then, so its often a sign that they havent done their homework.

    To troubleshoot conversations that have stalled out, Asonye offers helpful footholds with these guiding questions:

    Why might we be unable to raise our next round of financing?

    Why would someone choose to work with our biggest competitor?

    Question: Tell Us What You Know About Our Company/products/customers

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    Research and preparation play an important role in sales. As they say, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

    Why Ask This Question?

    Asking a candidate what they know about your company, products or your customers will give you some insight into how much preparation they put into the interview. This is important because it can also signify how much research and preparation they put into sales calls and dealings with your customers.

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    What Is Your Ideal Workday Like

    The toxic answer: Toxic employees are at the center of office drama and are the ones spreading gossip among the team. Although you want your employees to socialize, beware of candidates who place too much importance on chatting with co-workers.

    A few seemingly harmless words can quickly evolve into a toxic environment. Unfortunately, according to a new paper on workplace relationships by Wharton University, not all toxic relationships are identifiable while employees are on the clock anymore. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites now further threaten bonds between employees, especially when a negative

    Toxic employees will focus on the social aspects of their workday, not the actual work.

    What to look for instead:

    Friendships and good relationships are essential to organizations and overall job satisfaction. Look for candidates who spend time socializing without letting it become a distraction. Youre looking for the right balance between a collaborator and an individual worker.

    This candidate will mention socializing as a part of their ideal day, but wont focus on it. They note teamwork as an important part of their workday but also see the importance of working alone. Look for candidates who think its important to form working relationships and get along with others while completing their work.

    What’s The Most Important Thing You’ve Learned From A Peer And How Have You Used That Lesson In Your Day

    This one comes from Dan Slate, Director of Product Management at Wealthfront. Im looking for a candidates ability to identify superpowers in those around them that they want to improve upon themselves, he says.

    I like this question because it allows me to assess their self-reflection and growth mindset. Depending on the answer they provide, it can also be a good window into how humble they are.

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    What Motivates You To Work

    This one comes from Varun Srinivasan, former Senior Director of Engineer at Coinbase .

    On its face, its a simple question for the interviewer to ask. But it requires a tremendous amount of thought and introspection from interviewees, says Srinivasan. Ive found the asymmetric nature of it unlocks valuable discussion. Great candidates will be able to articulate their intrinsic motivators and reflect on why they’ve worked at startups before or upack why they want to break in. Less-than-stellar candidates wont wade into that self-inquiry. Theyll provide surface level answers such as I like hard technology challenges.

    Jopwell co-founder and CEO Porter Braswell opts for a similarly open-ended question: What does success mean to you? I find that asking questions like these makes the candidate pause and think, says Braswell. That helps drive a more organic and free-flowing conversation where I get to know the interviewee and what drives her on a deeper level compared to going through her resume.

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