What to Ask During a Sales Interview (the Secrets to Closing the Interview)

sean-burke-what-to-ask-after-the-sales-interviewCEO of KiteDesk, Sean Burke, is no stranger to hiring. These are his insider tips for closing the sales interview and landing the job.

This is what to ask during a sales interview to land the job:

How you close your interview is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the candidates.

Think about it – the person interviewing you probably has put together some pretty standard questions, and has likely received some pretty standard answers. Most salespeople I interview let me drive the entire conversation. Their responses vary somewhat based on personality and past experience, but a certain degree of similarity exists. That can be expected – the goal of those questions is to find out if the candidate is qualified.

When I open the floor for questions, that’s when things can get interesting, but often I just get surface level questions that add little value to me or the process. Some questions I get are so basic, I don’t even think the candidate got value from my response. When that person walks out of my office, at best, I think they would likely be capable of doing the job.

You don’t want to leave the impression that you might be good enough for the job, you want to be considered the best person for the job. The best way to leave a lasting impression on your (hopefully) new boss is to prepare for your interview, and treat it just like you would an important sales call.

The best sales call ever trick

Think about the ending of your best sales call ever…

Now let’s apply that type of sales call preparation to how you should approach the sales interview. As a foundation, you should have done the following pre-interview research to uncover:

  • The challenges the hiring leader is facing – why is she hiring for this role?
  • Her description of their dream candidate.
  • The hiring process, who is involved, timing and what the goals are of each step?
  • Company background, competitors and its industry – you should know this cold.
  • Each of the people you may interview with… If you are a tagged as a star candidate, or if the decision is close between two candidates, it is not uncommon to be asked to interview with a larger group.

The key to asking great questions at the end of an interview is setting up the interview to enable you to do so. The points I just shared will help you do just that.

Begin with the end in mind

Now, let’s switch gears and fast forward to the end of your nearly flawless interview. Right now, the person sitting across from you should be thinking, “We have to hire this person; it’s going to be competitive.”

The types of questions you should ask are as follows (with examples):

Details on the people you will be talking to next:

Lori: You said that I’d be talking next with the VP of Sales, the VP of HR and one of your other reps – can you give me a feel of how to prepare for those conversations?

Doug: I know that the next step is a group presentation, can you help me understand what the team is looking for from my presentation? Will you give me a few examples of reps who have killed their presentation in the past?

Trish: Would you please share with me specifics related to how each of people I will be talking with next see this role? What are they looking for?

Cody: I like what I have heard about this role and your company so far, are there any projects that might push out this decision longer than you expected? Things like, closing out the quarter sales, not having enough people in the pipeline to fill a training session, etc.

Jennifer: Where are you at in the process of recruiting and hiring for this role? The beginning, middle, end? I just want to get a feel for what to expect?

Mark: What, if anything, do you think I should know about your hiring process that I don’t know already?

Sue: I typically prepare a 30,60,90 day plan when I start a new role – will you share with me, what you think that looks like here at Acme Corporation?

Tom: Will you share with me your goals for this role at the 30 day mark? Then 60 – and 90? It will help me get a feel for what needs to be done.

What not to ask after a sales job interview

Often overlooked is what not to ask. These are the traps you can easily fall into if unaware, and often send the wrong signals. Plus, much like the pack of candidates you are up against, there’s little to be gained by asking any of these standard, unthinking questions that will never differentiate you.

Questions to avoid:

How did I do? This question shows a lack of confidence. Even if you think you bombed the interview, don’t ask this question yet. You can ask it only after they have turned you down.

How much will I make? When reps ask me this, it tells me that they are fearful that they won’t make enough money to support themselves – which is another example of a question that shows a lack of confidence.

How many people are you interviewing for this job? A top-performer would never ask this question – because they don’t care… They know they are an exceptional rep and could care less who else might be in the running for the role.

Remember: Hiring a salesperson is solving a problem for the company

That problem can be that the company:

  1. Has lost a rep(s) either through voluntary or involuntary separation
  2. Needs more revenue
  3. Needs better talent so they can churn out their poorer performers
  4. Is opening up a new market, releasing a new product or doing something strategically different

Your job is to make it undeniably clear that you are the person who will solve that problem.

One last point: If you nailed what you know is the last interview in the hiring process don’t be afraid to ask: “Did I get the job?”

You are in sales – people expect you to ask for their business so don’t let your new boss down… she wants you to ask for the job.

I know I do…

kite-desk-logoSean Burke is CEO at KiteDesk. He is a seasoned sales and marketing executive — and an evangelist for smarter sales prospecting. You can reach him by email or on Twitter at @seanburkeh.






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Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan