10 Questions to Prepare For in a Sales Job Interview
CEO of KiteDesk, Sean Burke, is no stranger to hiring. This is his advice on 10 questions you should expect in a sales job interview and how to answer them with confidence.
Sales managers have the most at stake when they hire candidates for sales roles. Hiring mistakes are expensive and disruptive — particularly on small teams — and a thoughtful interview prevents costly missteps affecting time, money, and morale.
At KiteDesk, our interviews are geared to one goal — predicting your success as part of our team. We’re not going to “waste” questions; the right questions reveal character and give clues to how well you are likely to fit into the company culture.
Here are 10 questions sales candidates should expect to hear:
Tell me about yourself.
Consider taking a “Past, Present, Future” approach when you answer: A brief piece of relevant background info; a highlight of your current situation (why you’re looking for a new challenge; a high-level overview of your current job); professional goals; and wrap up on a light note with something personal and exciting like a move or a new interest. Managers will be looking for motivation, excitement, and passion.
Please share what you have discovered about KiteDesk and this role in preparation for this interview.
This answer surfaces your research methods, along with the thoroughness with which you approached the interview. Did you talk to anyone from the company? What questions did you intend to ask based on your discovery?
What’s the last sales book you read? What did you take away from it?
This reveals a learning mentality — and shows whether you have a trait much to be desired: curiosity. Lifelong learners are promising sales candidates. They’re eager to build on their existing skills, and spot where they need to learn new ones. When you discuss what you’ve read, be prepared to talk about how you actually put the lessons into practice.
What is your process for opening up opportunities and engaging with prospects?
The best salespeople understand that sales are built on relationships. A sales relationship can have a long story arc, built over time, with multiple touchpoints and careful monitoring. This question will also mirror the interview conversation as there should be obvious relationship-building techniques on display.
Why did you choose sales as a career?
Hopefully, it’s not all about compensation, but about an interior motivation that has something to do with your passion — solving problems, matching someone to the ideal product for their needs, etc. Your career motivation is a great way to understand what drives you in your workday, and whether or not you will commit to organizational habits that will make you successful.
When you’ve lost a deal, have you ever followed up with the prospect to ask what you could have done better? If so, what did you change as a result of that feedback?
This question reveals many desirable traits. Are you focused on improving your skills? Curious about how doing something extra or differently would change an outcome? It’s based on the idea that your past behavior will govern your future behavior, as well. How you handled situations acts as a predictor for similar future situations.
What do you look for in a company’s culture?
We put our core values front and center — and if you’re not of the same mindset it’s better to know sooner rather than later. Your happiness on any team is dependent upon your past jobs or your imagined ideal team. Recognizing a culture you don’t like is as important as knowing the kind of environment where you thrive. Not a fit? We part as friends.
Tell me about a significant failure and success in your career, and what you learned from each of them.
This is a performance-based question. We’re looking for a candidate’s potential in our team. We want to know what success and failure mean to you and judge whether your reaction to both is tempered.
What do you think is your most valuable trait as a salesperson? Why?
Your self-perceived strengths support your reasons for entering sales as a career. Hopefully, what you see as your most valuable trait is what we’re looking for.
Focusing on strengths has proven to be far more productive than mitigating weaknesses for managers. Be ready to articulate strengths clearly and convincingly.
One of our core values is humor. Tell me a funny story about yourself.
It’s important to remember that people hire people they are going to be around – a lot. So during the interview process, it’s important to show your personality. Don’t be afraid to be human and genuine — you’re not just a resume.
Remember, it’s not only what you answer, but how. You’re being assessed as a brand representative. Do you want the job? Say so. Sometimes candidates play hard to get — this is always a mistake. Hiring managers want to bring on people who want the job and have a desire to learn and grow.
The sales team has as much contact with customers as the support team. Take time to think before answering a question — no need to fill a thoughtful silence with needless noise.
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