8 years ago
April 13, 2016

7 Key Questions to Ask in a Sales Interview

The following 7 key sales interview questions can help you to find the sales reps you need to meet your goals.

Rhys Metler


A great sales interview doesn’t just happen on its own; it happens when the interviewer has carefully prepared questions that elicit the kinds of answers needed to make a solid hiring decision. The following 7 key sales interview questions can help you to find the sales reps you need to meet your goals.

What were your goals for the past three years? Did you meet them? What was the reason for your success? Why didn’t you meet your goals?

This question about goals, accompanied by the follow-up questions, can help you to understand a candidate better. If the candidate can’t tell you about specific goals, you’re dealing with an unmotivated sales person. On the other hand, if the candidate can tell you specific goals, even if those goals weren’t all met, you’ll know that the sales rep has ambition and makes plans to succeed.

Tell me about a sales experience that illustrates your work ethic.

It’s interesting to hear what different candidates say about their work ethics in a sales interview. You can also follow up with this question by asking about a time when they failed to demonstrate a good work ethic and what they learned from that experience.

How do you generate leads?

Your company already has systems in place for generating leads, but wise sales managers allow their sales reps latitude in the ways they work. The answers to this sales interview question will help you to know whether a sales rep would fit in well in your organization or even bring new ideas to the table.

How do you overcome buyer objections?

This question is similar to the question about leads. It gives you insight into a sales rep’s strategies and methods. Ask for specific examples of how the candidate overcomes different objections: value, price, etc. A sales rep with experience at overcoming many different objections is more likely to be successful than a sales rep who only knows how to overcome one kind of objection.

How do you close sales? How do you know when a customer is ready to buy? What closing strategies do you use? What has worked best for you in the past?

A good question about closing sales, followed up with questions about the details, can help you to know if a candidate has what it takes to be an asset to your company. Be sure to include in your sales interview specific questions about closing. Does the candidate mention anything about body language, listening to buyer concerns, or customer service after a sale is made? These details are important, but don’t lead the candidate too strongly. Open-ended questions work best.

How do you keep up-to-date on your target market?

Even if their last target market was quite a bit different from yours, this question will help you to understand the depth of interest candidates have in their careers. Reading trade journals and blogs, participating in LinkedIn groups or discussion boards: these kinds of activities show that candidates are willing to go the extra mile to be successful in their jobs.

When do you stop pursuing a client?

This can be a tricky question for candidates because there’s really no “right” answer. But that’s part of what makes it a great sales interview question. In most industries, the best sales people are the most tenacious, and this question will help you to determine how tenacious a candidate is.¬†

These 7 key sales interview questions can help you to find the right sales reps for your team. Remember that the sales interview is a powerful tool for crafting an effective and successful team. Don’t allow the candidates to drive the sales interview; you’re the one who is gathering information that you need in order to select the people who will best represent your company. Use these sales interview questions, and find your star sales reps.

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.