When you interview for a job in sales you need to sell yourself to the interviewer. It is one of the most difficult types of interviews. They will have high expectations about your ability to persuade, and you’ll have to do more than simply answer questions. The hiring managers will want you to demonstrate that you are a great salesperson during the interview.
During the interview, you’ll need to show you’re qualified, but also that you know how to close. In this article, you’ll get some sample questions and answers that will help you prepare for your sales interview. You’ll want to review them to help frame your responses regarding your sales experience, achievements, knowledge and skills.
Tips for Answering Interview Questions
For every response, you should relate it back to your sales experience and the job you are interviewing for. You’ll want to be clear on how you’d be a great addition to the company and help grow it. You might share how you were responsible for growth at your last or current job. Share numbers if you have them.
Your interviewer will be looking for you to demonstrate your skills for a sales job. Look for ways to highlight your abilities. Tailor your answers to reflect the company’s goals, services, and products. The more you know about the company you are interviewing for the better off you’ll be.
For a sales interview, think of yourself as being the product and apply those principles to the interview and consider it a sales meeting. You will demonstrate that you are a good fit for the company you are applying to.You should approach your interview as if you are the product and you are trying to sell yourself to the hiring manager. Make sure you study the company, get enough sleep the night before and be ready to do your best when you get there.
Also, make sure to dress one step above what is expected for work attire on the job. If it is business casual then where a suit. Make sure you don’t look sloppy, walk in confident but not arrogant, and know that you are the best candidate for the job!
Interview Questions about Experience, Motivation/Goals, and Accomplishments
When interviewing for a sales role, you’ll inevitably be asked questions about your experience, what drives you, and your past accomplishments. This is going to be a pivotal role in the interview because it’s going to show your future employer how driven you are, and also how well you’ve done in prior sales positions.
When answering these questions, make sure not to embelish, but speak in a confident tone, highlighting things you’ve done in your career that will show you can be an asset to the company. Any past accomplishments you’ll want to note, and also be clear in your goals and what makes you tick. So, here are some sample questions of what you might be asked in an interview that relate to your experience, drive, and accomplishments.
What is your sales experience?
Stay positive and don’t embellish. State what you have done in sales, such as getting a “yes” from someone and why you have decided to work for your past employers.
Why do you want to work in sales?
You’ll want to say something like “A career in sales is one of few where you are truly rewarded for your hard work. While often fun it will also challenge me while being lucrative and rewarding.”
When did you first know sales was for you?
The interviewer is looking to see if you have a real interest in sales. A story is good here. You could say you worked in the family business or had a lemonade stand as a kid. You might have applied to be on Shark Tank. The possibilities are endless but are genuine.
How do you stay motivated?
By being passionate about sales, self-managed, money-motivated, self-determined, and being goal oriented. Most are looking for a person who has financial responsibility and needs to pay their bills. You might say your mortgage motivates you.
Describe your memory of your best sale?
A brief story is the best way to answer this question and you’ll want to share a time when you beat the odds by getting a sale. Mention a few obstacles you overcame. You’ll want to be showing how you were excited to take the challenge of getting this sale and winning the business strategically.
What are you most proud of?
This is where you’ll want to talk about your accomplishments and you’ll want to think about this question before the interview so you have a good answer. You might say you value your time at a past organization or your work on a board that helps others or maybe you helped your little brother pay for school. Something that you really are proud of but you can also stay relevant to the job position.
Share with me a sale you closed successfully
Don’t talk about an easy sale. Talk about one that was challenging. You also want to mention any other team players that helped, don’t take all the credit if it doesn’t apply. You also shouldn’t answer with the fact that you offered a discount.
Share your numbers with me
You need to know your numbers and where you stood with the team. Your numbers may help you shine. Interviewers are looking for people who are competitive.
How do you plan to exceed expectations if we hire you?
You want to show you’ve been thinking about going above and beyond for the company before they’ve evened hired you. You’ll show that you think outside your specific job duties for the good of the company.
Interview Questions about Strengths and Weaknesses, Personal Attributes
During your sales interview, the interviewer is going to want to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, as well as some of your attributes. Anytime you’re answering questions about your strengths, you want to come off as confident, without sounding arrogant/cocky.
When it comes to your weaknesses, make sure it’s something that you have overcome already, or are overcoming. As for your personal attributes and beliefs, try and tailor these answers to be company specific. Do some research on the company and base your answers around what their company values are. With that being said, here are some popular interview questions related to strengths, weaknesses and personal attributes.
What should be a salesperson’s core values?
You could say things like putting the needs of the customer first, patience, and being humble. You’ll want to align with the values of the company so do your research beforehand. It could be the opportunity to meet new and different people, the challenges of solving problems for potential clients, the thrill of the hunt, travel, or building a book of business.
What do you like the least about sales?
This will show the interviewer if you are a good fit for the company. Answer honestly but don’t talk negatively about past or current employers. Don’t say nothing, either. You’ll come off as disingenuous. You might say that you don’t like speaking in front of large groups but prefer the one on one connection with clients.
Describe your weaknesses
If you’re looking for a quick answer, listening is something that can always be improved upon. This is behavioral which is good, and you can describe how you’re overcoming this weakness. When talking about a weakness, try and have it not relate to the job, and make it a strength in disguise if possible. Also, you’ll want to have more than one weakness ready to go. The interviewer will most likely assume you have one or two weaknesses ready to go, so come prepared with three weaknesses that you can rattle off, and you’ll be all set.
Did you pay for your own college education?
Some managers ask this of recent graduates to see if they had to work for something instead of getting a free ride. If you didn’t pay for your college tuition, you might mention you worked Summers or part-time. This question is not a determination of if you’ll get the job typically.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
You might say something about making money that someone older taught you. You want to keep your answer relevant but also honest.
What do you do for fun?
Be honest and just state your hobbies. Practice this question before the interview. The key here is to not be disjointed and garbled. You want to already have your answer in mind and nail it.
How do you balance work and life?
There are a few ways you can answer this question. You can say that you balance them well and make family a priority also. You could also say that you always find yourself working and thinking about next steps. Finally, you could say that you’re great at balancing them because you find sales even when you aren’t at work.
What have you done that has beaten the odds?
Talk about a time when things weren’t going well and how you turned it around. You might mention the recession and relate to the interviewer by asking them what they did at that time and relating with them. Stay positive.
Are you a team player?
The answer is that you are a team player and you like having independence but also enjoy helping others succeed.
What color best describes you and why?
Strange questions like this might get asked because they can’t be rehearsed. You might say green because you are money motivated or yellow because you are positive. There is no wrong answer but keep it relevant to the interview.
What animal would you say you are most like and why?
Don’t get flustered because this is a weird question. Just take a minute to think about it and then say something like a cheetah because they are very smart and fast. Any animal would work, just keep it positive and relate it to the position and interview.
You’re starting a business tomorrow. What are you selling?
Show your future goals and motivations. You can share if you are an aspiring entrepreneur. You’ll also show how you pitch business ideas.
What is your dream job?
You can say that you are looking for room for movement, however, don’t share an aspiration that this company cannot provide you, as they may pass on you knowing that you will move on quickly.
Is not making quota worse than having unhappy customers?
You should always have happy customers while attempting to make quota every month. The key here is to show that you’ll do whatever it takes to make your quota without sacrificing customer satisfaction, or cutting corners in order to do so.
What do you dislike the most about sales?
You can alert the interviewer to your weaknesses depending on how you answer this question. Try to avoid sharing that your least favorite part of the sales process is the main goal of the company.
Should you continue learning while in sales?
You want to show that you are a lifelong learner. That is very important when working in sales. You should state that you are willing to learn and grow in your role.
Interview Questions About Your Boss/Manager, Work Environment, and the Company
For these questions, you’re going to want to be on your “A game”, and have done your homework on your future company to be. If you’re interviewing with the hiring manager, he’s going to want to see how well you’ll mesh with him, the company, and the culture.
You’ll need to make sure that you’ve studied up on the company, their values, and what kind of sales environment you’re walking into. Is it similar to the Wolf of Wall Street, or are we talking about ping pong and open bar on Friday’s? Understanding how they operate will be vital to your success with these questions. Take a look at our suggestions below, and tailor your answers accordingly.
Describe your ideal work environment?
You’ll want to consider the environment where you are applying when answering this. Will you be in a call center or on the sales floor? Do you like working in the field? You might want to ask the interviewer to describe the environment before this question is asked so you know how to answer it.
Have you ever had a manager you didn’t like? Why?
This can be a very revealing question. If you had a very bad manager, you can be honest, however, you need to stay away from personal digs. Don’t be judgmental like saying they were lazy or a drunk. You can say something about morale and that it was time to leave.
What could our company do differently?
You should demonstrate that you did research before meeting with the person interviewing you and also show entrepreneurial qualities and creative thinking. Point out something small, but impactful.
What does our company do that brings value to potential clients?
You’ll be showing off the research you did on the company. If you can’t show the benefits of their product and services they might pass on you.
Describe your favorite boss and what made them your favorite?
You can say you had a great relationship but keep it professional. Say how you learned from them, why you looked up to them, and what they taught you.
Tell me what you know about me and this company
This will show how much research you did before the interview. You want to know about the company and if possible about the interviewer as well. This shows you know how to prepare for a sales call. Think of the interview as a sales meeting.
How do you plan your day?
The interviewer wants to know that you can put in the work even if its boring. You need to show your organization and endurance. You’ll want to discuss cold calls, and how many results in appointments and how frequently they become your customer. You can admit to monotonous tasks. It matters that you do them anyway and they help you close the sale.
How well do you work with a sales team?
You want to show that you are a team player especially if that is important to the company structure. If you can’t collaborate with others you might not get hired. Be positive.
What would be your ideal version of a sales manager?
How you answer this shows how you approach working relationships and overcome challenges. State that you can work independently and take direction.
Why are you interested in working for our company?
Don’t just make it just about money. The person interviewing you will want to know that you did research before the interview. You can also talk about things in the company that doesn’t involve sales, such as the culture or charity activities. You want to show that you are excited about the company and working for them. You might say that long-term customer satisfaction appeals to you.
What was your last company like? Describe the culture there
This question will show what you value and how you worked with others. You’ll be able to share what kind of leadership helps you thrive. Don’t complain about long hours or rigid goals.
Interview Questions About the Customer and Building Relationships
Building relationships is the foundation to any good sales career. Whether it’s B2B or B2C sales, your ability to gain rapport and trust with potential clients is something any sales interviewer will want to find out.
Before any sales interview, make sure you have examples ready of how you’ve dealt with customers/clients in the past, how you build rapport, as well as how you gain access to new customers when you’re starting out in a new territory. This will show the interviewer how well you’ll be able to hit the ground running starting out in a new position. Here are some example questions and tips regarding dealing with customers and nurturing client relations.
Describe a difficult customer and how you got the sale anyway.
You want to show that you can put aside your pride for the greater good. Explain what happened and the steps you took to fix it.
How do you research your ideal customer?
This will show how well you did at research and keeping up with your customers. Even if your target market was not the same as the job you are interviewing, for now, that’s okay.
What are three things you would do to build rapport with people?
You might say listening, asking questions, and relating to them with your own experiences. You like to learn what a person likes, needs, or wants. This helps you make the sale as well.
Which is more important to spend time on, customer relationships or finding new customers?
Some people are good at one or the other but you hopefully want to show that you are good at both. Either way relate it to the position you are interviewing for, stay positive and relevant.
What types of questions do you ask a potential customer?
You’ll want to show that you are better at asking questions than just pitching to a potential customer.
What do you do when a potential customer says no?
Have a process rather than just winging it when it comes to objections from a potential client.
What types of questions do you ask a potential customer to find out if they are a good fit?
You need to show that your questions are focused and get to the point of whether a prospect is a good fit for what you are selling. Its okay if this relates more to your current job, it just shows that you know how to sell.
When do you stop pursuing a potential customer?
You should say something along the lines of six to eight attempts but this also depends on the companies process and policies. If you are persistent, that is a good thing to share.
What is the best way to nurture a relationship with a customer?
Share that you build rapport in person and over the phone. Don’t say via email and voicemail as this can be a red flag. Show that you enjoy communicating with the customer.
In your opinion, what’s more important: getting new clients or focusing on long-term relationships?
When answering this, a lot will depend on the company you are interviewing with and what it is that you’ll be selling. You’ll need to do research to answer this question. Are the products disposable or do they last a long time? Are the products an investment?
Both types of clients are key, but it does depend on the life-cycle of the product you are selling. You’ll need to know what the long-term goal is for the customer.
How would a former customer describe you in three adjectives?
You’ll want to say “helpful” and things like it. You’ll also want to show examples of times you used the traits.
Interview Questions About Your Process, Sales Tactics, Pay and Rejection
If you’ve ever been in sales before, you know that rejection is a major part of the game. How you handle rejection will tell the interviewer a lot. Not dwelling on the negatives and being able to put rejection behind you is necessary for any successful sales career.
Along with that, the hiring manager is going to want to know some of the tools you have in your arsenal when it comes to sales. You’ll want to be prepared to answer questions regarding sales tactics and your process of closing a sale. Take a look at the questions below to get a better understanding of what to expect when it comes to questions like this.
How should we structure commission?
There are companies that offer high commission or higher hourly pay and lower commission. They can be profit sharing and lots of other things. You should show appreciation for any commission structure and how it is reflecting their performance and the objectives of the company.
Explain a detailed process of something.
You’ll want to show you can show someone the way through a process or concept. You’ll want to be clear and concise.
Have you used social media to make sales in the past?
If you have used social media to sell, definitely share this. Social media is becoming more relevant in sales. If you haven’t, that’s okay as long as you have the willingness to learn.
Sell me this pen.
Don’t go on about the features of the pen. Ask them “What kind of pen do you like to write with?” Then you’ll want to follow up with asking more detailed questions like what does it look like and how does it write? Do you care about the way it looks or just the tech of how it works? After this, provide the reasons why they’ll like the pen you are selling. Close the sale by asking them what they think about the pen and if they’d like to purchase it today.
Does content marketing have any part in your process?
If you don’t engage with social media content this is not a deal breaker but if you do you need to share that with the interviewer. You’ll need to be open to learning the companies’ tactics regarding this.
How do you study for a call or meeting and what do you use to find out information about prospects?
You should definitely mention that you use Linkedin to learn about potential business opportunities. You want to show that you prepare for calls and meetings.
How would you make sales in the first thirty days here if we hired you?
You should have some kind of action plan to get started. Obviously, the company will train you if hired however you should have some idea based on your skill as to how you would approach the job.
Explain your sales process from start to finish
Show how you go through your sales process. You should be organized in your approach and be able to communicate clearly on the spot. You should cover the steps of prospect, connect, evaluate, present, and close.
How comfortable are you with making cold calls?
You may be required to make cold calls on a regular basis. They can be tough but you’ll want to share that you are able to do them and be successful. You might say that you’ve enjoyed them in the past and have gained some of your best customers that way.
How would you handle short and long cycles of sales differently?
You should recognize that short cycles need employees that can close quickly and that long sales cycles need a longer more careful approach. You should recognize the difference.
Sales Interview Questions to Ask the Interviewer
Now that we’ve covered all our bases when it comes to answering sales interview questions, you’re definitely going to want to have some questions of your own to ask the interviewer. You absolutely must have questions! This shows interest. Don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking questions though.
Before the interview, do some research on the company and find out all the information you can. Check out their website, what employees are saying on Glassdoor, as well as their socials such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Ask about things you have a genuine interest in. Here are some examples:
- Describe your best employee. What made them the best in your opinion?
- What kind of leader would you consider yourself to be?
- Where do you see the company in the next few years?
- What quotas do I need to meet for this position?
- How would an employee describe you?
- What do you expect out of people you lead?
- What would be a few things that an employee could do that would exceed your expectations of them?
- Can you give me the percentage of employees meeting their quota?
- Can you give me the percentage of employees that exceed their quota?
- Is traveling a big part of this position?
- What is the commission structure?
- Can you give me the percentage of employees that get their bonus?
- Is there any flexibility in price when trying to close a sale?
- What is the biggest challenge your employees face?
- How many people are on the sales team?
- How do you keep your employees motivated?
- What is a typical day like in this position?
- How could an employee wow you?
- Do you enjoy working here and why?
- What do you think could use improvement in this company?
- Can you recall a sale that was memorable that was done by your team? What was it and why?
- Can you please describe the interview process and how many interviews you are doing?
- What is a determining factor in the hiring process?
- When can we meet again for a second interview, and what time would be best for you?
Now Get Out There and Crush It!
You have all the tools at your disposal. Study up on the questions and tips we’ve outlined above, and you’ll be ready to crush any sales interview questions that come your way.
Make sure you read up on the company as well as the interviewer. You might be able to share that you went to the same school or know someone from their town. This shows you prepare for a sales call, and is a great skill to have. Really, this interview can be approached like a sales meeting. You can close the deal if you approach it that way.
These questions will help you prepare. While sales interviews are some of the toughest, they aren’t impossible. Just makes sure to be armed with concrete examples of past successes you’ve had and sell yourself as the perfect candidate for the job.