7 years ago
February 21, 2017

5 Interview Questions to Ask a Sales Person

Hiring a new sales person is a tough task. Asking these five key interview questions can make the task a lot easier. Keep reading.

Rhys Metler

The majority of sales people are mediocre at best. The turnover in the industry is very high. Most sales professionals just can’t cut it, can’t achieve quota, and can’t generate revenue.

There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to hire for sales. But there are great sales reps out there—you just have to know how to spot them and how to weed out the bad. Choosing the right interview questions that challenge the candidate and offer valuable insights into their knowledge, skills, and personalities can help you make the best hiring decisions and avoid making costly bad hires.

Don’t just ask the candidate to reiterate his past work history, credentials, and experiences—you already know all that from his resume. Instead, ask these five interview questions and make the most out of the short time you have to learn more about your candidates to find out if they’re really the right fit for the job and your company.

1. In your opinion, what will be the biggest challenges in this industry in the next 10 years?

You’re going to want to hire a new sales person that not only knows what the industry is like right now, but also thinks critically about the future of the industry. A well-informed candidate will be able to answer this question in a way that not only showcases his knowledge but also his dedication to the industry, and in turn, the job within the industry.

A potential new sales person that can’t answer this question might not be thinking that far ahead in his own professional future and might not have the valuable insights that could be an asset to your company. Even a sales person that is moving to a new industry should be expected to have done some industry research before changing careers.

2. What prospecting techniques do you use and which provide you with the best results and why?

You don’t want to hear that a candidate sets aside an hour each morning to research prospects. That doesn’t tell you anything. This question probes deeper and forces the candidate to explain exactly what methods are used and why. Hopefully, he’ll tell you that he uses powerful sales prospecting techniques like warm calling, being a helpful guide on the buyer’s journey, and being a thought leader because these tactics gain trust and establish credibility.

3. Tell me about a time when you lost a sale.

Your sales interview questions should also probe the candidate’s ability to deal with rejection and disappointments to better understand how they cope under stress. With this question, you’ll be able to see if the candidate takes on personal accountability, turns rejection into opportunity, and has enough self-confidence to not let these types of situations affect his performance. If the sales person places all the blame on the prospect, the circumstances, his manager, or anyone else, take it as a warning sign.

4. What are you hoping to gain from this position that you didn’t find in your last position?

A highly effective sales person will be all about self-improvement and advancement. The ideal candidate will answer this question by saying he’s hoping for more responsibility, more advancement opportunities, new challenges, or more opportunities for personal development.

5. Why do you want to work for this company?

Just because someone is a great sales person doesn’t mean that he’ll be the best choice for your unique organization. Your company has a specific company culture that is made up of your values, beliefs, management style, and environment. If the potential sales person answers this question with passion because he truly believes in what you do, loves the way you run your office, and is excited to sell your products or services, you have a better chance of gaining a long-term hire and prevent a high sales position turnover.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.