Sales Interview 40 Sales Interview Questions to Ask Sales Rep Candidates
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Sales Interview – Questions & Answers
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If you want to land a great sales job , you’ll have to learn how to ace the sales interview . Sure, interview performance is critical in landing most jobs. It’s a way for a potential employer to get to know you and what you’d be like to work for.
However, for salespeople, the job interview is also a test of your selling skills. Can you sell yourself as the best candidate for this job?
The interviewer will be carefully observing your communication skills to determine if you’re the kind of person who will be able to close deals with the company’s customers.
At the same time, the interviewer will be asking questions to learn more about your sales track record and professional accomplishments. Most sales interviews also rely heavily on behavioral interview questions, and this means that the hiring manager will want to explore your ability in the key competencies needed for success in a sales job — including ability to persuade, presentation skills, motivation, persistence, and others.
What can you expect? While you may get some variations, you can be sure some form of the following questions will be presented in your sales interview:
1. What interests you most about this position?
This is probably one of the first — and most important — questions you’ll be asked. The interviewer will obviously want to know that you are interested in and good at selling.
It’s also important to demonstrate the research you’ve done on the company before the interview and talk about why you want to sell this particular company’s products and/or services. Talk about your admiration for the company’s sales strategies or product quality and explain how your past experience is relevant.
Possible Answer: I’ve always admired your company’s reputation for customer service and I know that’s a big part of why your clients buy from you. I have a lot of experience selling to your key demographic and I know how to sell the overall product experience — including the customer service component. Let me tell you about a sales campaign I came up with last year that centered on the benefits of customer service….
2. What motivates you?
A good salesperson must be motivated. The interviewer will want to know: do you have a passion for closing the deal?
While there’s no one right answer to this question, you must be able to convey enthusiasm for the sales career path and a desire to succeed. Discuss your personal sales style and comment on how this drives you during your sales calls.
Your interviewer will also expect you to be self-motivated , so be sure to explain that your motivation comes from within. Share an example of a time when you saw an opportunity and went the extra mile to make a sale.
Possible Answer: I am constantly motivated by the challenge of the sale. The success of landing a new client is a thrill, and building a well-thought out pitch that will explain the product is very satisfying.
3. How do you handle rejection?
To succeed in sales, you must be able to persevere in the face of rejection. Even the best salesperson hears a lot of no’s. In some sales jobs, you’ll be hung up on and even cursed out by potential customers.
The interviewer will want to know that you’ll be able to put yourself out there again and again. This is especially true for those in the early days of a sales career without a long track record of sales success.
Avoid answering in a way that might make them think you’re too sensitive for sales, but be honest. Who likes rejection? Nobody! And saying it doesn’t bother you can come across as disingenuous and rehearsed.
Instead, talk about how you use rejection as a motivator and an opportunity to learn.
Possible Answer: Losing a sale, or failing at landing one, is disappointing. But if you want to succeed in this business, you can’t take it personally. I work hard to learn from rejection and continuously improve my sales techniques.
4. Have you consistently met your sales goals?
Naturally, the interviewer will want to know about your sales history. The ideal candidate will have proven experience meeting and exceeding sales goals.
Be prepared to talk about your greatest sales achievements. Refresh your memory before the interview so that you can comfortably cite numbers to demonstrate your success.
Possible Answer: Yes, I have always met or exceeded my sales goals over my ten-year career in the business. For example, last year I led my team to exceed our sales projections by 25% — and this was during a very difficult market when most of the other teams in our division came up short of goal.
5. Sell me this pen.
That’s right, you may very well be challenged to show off your sales skills on the spot in the interview.
It’s an age-old sales interview trick, and the interviewer is likely hoping that the question will catch you off guard. Your response will show your capacity for thinking on your feet and prove your dexterity at selling anything
Good tricks to answering this question: Don’t sell the pen, sell the post-sale benefits, and don’t simply list the attributes, find out what the potential buyer is looking for.
The possible answers could be long ones, and you should be asking questions to ascertain what the buyer wants. If they say they want long ink-life, point out that the pen is guaranteed to last 3 years, and so forth. You’re not just selling the pen, you’re making it clear that the product is a necessity in the buyer’s life.
Possible Answer: Begin the answer with “I would need to know a little more about your day to day. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions first?” And move on to questions such as “What is important to you when selecting a pen?” “What do you usually write with?”, etc.
For more seasoned sales professionals, the interviewer may skip the fun and games with the pen and jump straight to asking you how you would approach selling the company’s products or services. Do your pre-interview homework so that you’ll be able to speak intelligently about the products/services and their benefits.
What are some other questions that have stumped you in sales interviews? Share them in the comments and we’ll address more sales interview questions and answers in a follow-up post.
Here’s a funny video from the sketch group Human Giant of an extreme interview. While not technically an interview for a sales role – it does reminds me of the heavy-handed tactics incorporated by some interviewers:
Connect with Pamela Skillings on Google+
Photo Credit: LeoReynolds
Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As one of the country’s top interview coaches, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase.
She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York.
She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association. Continue reading.
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- Interview Questions
5 tough sales job interview questions and how to answer them
The interview is your best shot to make a great impression and convince the interviewer you’re the right salesperson for the job
Always be prepared to answer the trickiest interview questions.
It’s one of the hardest and most dreaded aspects of the hiring process—the interview . It’s your one shot to make a great impression and convince the interviewer you’re the best salesperson for the job. One of the most difficult parts of the interview experience is coming up with intelligent answers to tricky questions on the spot. For sales jobs in particular, questions can vary from the direct to the abstract depending upon the interviewer and the company.
No matter how many times you’ve sat in the hot seat, these questions can still catch you off guard. Take a moment to brush up on these five difficult sales job interview questions—and learn how to answer them with confidence at your next interview.
“Tell me about yourself.”
If you’ve ever interviewed for a job before, you’ve likely had to answer the keystone question: "Tell me about yourself." It’s deceptively simple and a real stumbling block for many. What do you include? What do you leave out? How personal should you get? Instead of giving a chronological history of your education and work experiences, focus on personal qualities such as strengths and skills that make you well-suited for the job. Include tangible examples whenever possible, but don’t branch off too far into a lengthy story. Include interesting tidbits that the employer will want to ask you more about. This will help frame the rest of the interview and highlight why you’re qualified for the role.
“Why do you want to work in sales?”
The biggest mistake you can make when answering this question is to simply say, “Because I like it,” or worse, “Because the money is good.” This doesn’t really tell the interviewer anything they couldn’t have obviously guessed—and it certainly doesn’t help to set you apart from other candidates.
Successfully answer this tough question by focusing on your sales history. Think back to when your passion first began. Was it because of a summer job? Or maybe it started as early as childhood. Briefly illustrate this passion with real-life examples and include a success story, if possible. Then tie it in to why you still want to work in sales. Employers will take note of this longstanding drive and remember your answer because of your personal story.
“Why did you leave your last job?”
This is a tricky question. Thoughtfully explaining why you left your last job will tell the employer a lot about your personality. You’ve likely left, or are thinking about leaving, your last sales job because it wasn’t a good fit or because you didn’t like the work environment, the pay, or management. Though they may be truthful answers, all of these reasons carry a negative connotation and will pull down the mood of the interview. First, state something positive about your last job. Maybe you learned a lot or enjoyed the people you worked with. Then, shift the focus of why you left by talking about what you’re looking for in your next job that your past job didn’t have. This might be more responsibility, relocation, or a different company culture. This will present your past work experience in a positive light and compliment the position for which you’re interviewing.
“What’s your greatest weakness?”
This question is a great opportunity to take a negative and turn it into a positive. It’s among the most common interview questions and for that reason, it’s also known for evoking some of the most cliché responses. Saying something like, “My biggest weakness is that I never give up on closing a sale,” won’t come across genuine or honest.
To answer this question, think of a true weakness—you get stressed out easily, or your habit of multitasking can lead to distraction. Then, give specific examples as to how you’re making an effort to strengthen these weaknesses. This will show the interviewer that you’re honest—and when you recognize a weakness, you know how to take action to fix it.
“What motivates you to sell?”
This question sets the stage for highlighting your positive attributes as a sales rep. But when put on the spot, it can be hard to elaborate on exactly what motivates you. Don’t give a generic or vague response. This is a personal question, so you’ll want to dig deep and answer this.
Use this question as an opportunity to provide insight into your character. Are you motivated by goals, pleasing your employer, or being among the highest performing sales reps? This lets your interviewer know whether you’ll be a good fit in the company and how to motivate you if you’re offered the job.
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