5 years ago
February 12, 2019

The Top 8 Questions to Ask Candidates During a Sales Interview & Why

Are you asking the right questions during the sales interview process? To build a strong and competitive sales organization, it’s vital you find people who can meet quota, close deals,…

Rhys Metler

Are you asking the right questions during the sales interview process?

To build a strong and competitive sales organization, it’s vital you find people who can meet quota, close deals, handle rejection, and improve your sales team.

Sales is not a career for everyone. If you want to compete in one of the most competitive industries, you need an effective recruiting process. Sales interviews are a key component.

You have a limited amount of time during sales interviews. You need to use this time wisely by asking the right questions.

Asking the right questions will provide you with useful information and data about candidates to help you assess their fit and compare them. Asking the right questions will help you make a more effective and informed hiring decision.

Top Questions to Ask Candidates During a Sales Interview

While there is not a single perfect question or perfect combination of questions that are relevant to all sales organizations, there are some important questions that should be included in sales interviews.

Here is a collection of some of the top sales interview questions to ask candidates:

1. Question: Why Did You Get Into Sales?

This is a great question to break the ice during an interview. Everyone has a reason why they choose sales over other career paths. For some, they do it because they enjoy working with people and are strong communicators. Others get into the field for the money and opportunity. Either way, you’ll learn something about the candidate’s career aspirations and motivation.

Why Ask This Question?

Everyone has their reasons for getting into sales. Asking this question will provide you with some insight into what motivates the candidate, their career goals and whether or not this is in alignment with your company and sales team objectives.

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2. Question: Why Are You Looking to Make a Career Move?

There are countless reasons why a sales professional may be looking to make a career move. Was there no room to grow in their current organization? Was there an issue with a boss or coworkers? Is the candidate looking to take the next step in their career progression? Is it just time for a change?

Why Ask This Question?

While this is a common sales interview question, it’s an important one because it will shed some light on the candidate’s career intentions. It will provide you with some insight for their motivation to look for a new job, and where they see themselves in the future.

3. Question: What Is the Latest Sales Strategy You’ve Tried?

Change and innovation are commonplace in sales. Top performing sales reps don’t get complacent. They are always looking for new strategies and tactics to use to close more deals and become more efficient.

Why Ask This Question?

Asking about the latest sales strategy a candidate has tried will give you insights into their drive and desire to improve. It will also let you know if they are up to date with industry news and trends. You can also gain insights into the sales tools and resources they have used and prefer.

4. Question: Why Did You Lose Your Last Sales Deal?

Losing deals is part of sales. It happens. If your candidate says they never lose deals or start to blame others, it could be a red flag.

Why Ask This Question?

Asking this question allows you to get a sense of a candidate’s self-awareness. Are they introspective? Do they reflect upon their performance and look for answers when things go wrong. Or do they just blame external factors? You’ll learn if the candidate is good at analyzing their performance and if they are looking for ways to improve. Additionally, you will learn how they deal with losing out on deals. How a candidate handles loss is an indication of their overall approach to sales.

5. Question: Explain…

Salespeople need to be strong communicators. Depending on what the candidate will be selling, they could be expected to explain difficult or technical terminology in simple terms.

Why Ask This Question?

Asking a sales candidate to explain a concept, product or process will give you an example of their communication skills and sales abilities. You’ll see how well they explain things, the depth of their explanation, and get an idea of how they will explain things to your customers.

Alternatively, you could also ask candidates to sell you something. It could be a fake product or even something as simple as a pen.

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6. Question: Tell Us What You Know About Our Company/Products/Customers

Research and preparation play an important role in sales. As they say, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Why Ask This Question?

Asking a candidate what they know about your company, products or your customers will give you some insight into how much preparation they put into the interview. This is important because it can also signify how much research and preparation they put into sales calls and dealings with your customers.

7. Question: What Is Your Best Piece of Advice for Dealing with Objections During a Sales Call?

Objections are part of the sales process. Clients are going to reject your offers and say no more often than not. There are many different ways you can handle objections – some are more effective than others. This will shed some light into how they deal with conflict and their customer service skills.

Why Ask This Question?

Asking this question will tell you, the recruiter, a lot about a candidate’s approach to sales. Are they prepared for objections? Do they anticipate them? Or do they wing it? You’ll also learn if their approach is in alignment with how your company typically deals with objections during the sales process.

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8. Question: What Is Your Favorite/Least Favorite Part of Sales?

All sales professionals have things they like and don’t like about the sales process. Some people love prospecting, others don’t. It depends on the candidate.

Why Ask This Question?

Understanding what a candidate likes and doesn’t like to do can provide you with insights into their strengths and weaknesses. If they are weak in an area that is a priority for your company, they may not be a good fit. You’ll also learn about areas of expertise and how they could potentially fit into your sales team.


Industry Specific Questions to Ask Sales Professionals

Hiring sales professionals for a specific industry? Use these tips to maximize the effectiveness of your sales interview time with candidates:

Car sales: The Most Useful Car Salesperson Interview Questions to Ask

Insurance: Hiring for a Sales Position in the Insurance Sector? 4 Top Interview Tips

Software: 4 Ways to Prep for a Sales Interview in the Software Sector

Legal sector: 5 Questions You MUST Ask When Interviewing for a Sales Position in the Legal Sector


More Game Changing Job Interview Tips from Sales Recruiters

Hiring the best sales talent is competitive and challenging. Here are a series of insightful blog posts by our expert sales recruiters to help you make the best hiring decisions:

Talentology: 4 Tips to Hire Top Sales Talent

The Best Way to Hold Interviews for a New VP of Sales

Don’t Make These Hiring Mistakes! 4 Mistakes Sales Recruiters Should Avoid in an Interview

5 Unprofessional Habits That Kill Your Chances of Getting the Best Candidate

4 Ways to Sell Your Company in a Sales Interview

4 Ways to Spot a Suitable Sales Candidate During an Interview

Job Candidates Are Liars! How Sales Recruiters Can Detect Interview Liars


SalesForce Search is a sales recruiting company which specializes in the recruitment and placement of sales professionals. We recruit salespeople in every sector of the economy including, software, manufacturing, financial services and medical devices. Find the right salesperson for your organization, start your search here.

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.