4 months ago
March 13, 2024

Hiring Salespeople Is Hard! Our Sales Recruiters Share The 8 Best Interview Questions

Sales recruitment is not for the weak at heart. As a sales recruiter with years of experience working with all types of sales organizations, I can tell you without a…

Claire McConnachie Recruiter
Claire McConnachie

Sales recruitment is not for the weak at heart. As a sales recruiter with years of experience working with all types of sales organizations, I can tell you without a doubt that hiring salespeople is hard. There is a long list of challenges companies face when looking to fill a vacancy on their sales team. Most notably, performance. Consider these stats:

Sales Recruitment Statistics

The interview process is one of the main opportunities you have to assess potential candidates to see if they have sales rockstar qualities. That is – if you ask the right questions. The quality and types of questions you ask will be a key differentiator in your ability to hire the best person for the job. 

With this in mind, I’ve created the following list of the best sales job interview questions to ask candidates to find the best person for the job. But, first, I’ll quickly touch upon why is so challenging to hire in the sales industry. 

Why Is Hiring Sales People So Hard?

Many people are reluctant to enter the sales industry because of the negative connotations – salespeople are deceptive and money-hungry. This is one of the contributing reasons for the talent gap in the industry. 

Another reason hiring salespeople is hard is sales professionals are excellent at selling themselves. They know how to talk the talk, so it can be challenging to see the forest from the trees. Then there are the standard challenges of the hiring process – comparing candidates and differentiating the contenders from the pretenders. 

What Questions Should I Ask To Sales Candidates During The Interview?

There is an infinite number of questions you could ask candidates during the job interview. But you only have a finite amount of time to ask them. So, it’s essential to wither down your list of questions and stick to the ones that will give you the best insights about a salesperson’s skills, experience and fit. 

In our experience in assisting companies with the interview process, we find that asking an array of questions about prospecting, sales skills, strategies, and behaviour situations is best. You gain a better overall picture of what a candidate can offer. 

What Are the Best Job Interview Questions To Ask Salespeople?

Here is a collection of sales job interview questions you can add to your list that we’ve found particularly effective:

What attracted you to a career in sales?

There are many reasons why someone is interested in working with sales. Perhaps they enjoy working with people. Or maybe they like the competitive nature of the industry. But if they only talk about money, you should dig deeper. Another potential red flag is people who say they got into sales because they had issues getting jobs in other industries. 

What motivates you to be a successful salesperson?

Asking this question will tell you a lot about what you can expect from a sales rep. If money is their main motivation, this is a red flag and you should process with caution with the candidate. Sure, money is important to all of us, but look for candidates with a deeper source of motivation. 

What values do you think every salesperson should have?

When evaluating interview responses, go beyond technical skills and delve into the candidate’s alignment with your company’s core values. Look for responses that not only showcase understanding and enthusiasm for your mission but also demonstrate essential sales characteristics like patience and integrity.

By prioritizing these qualities alongside technical expertise, you can identify candidates who not only possess the necessary skills but also share your company’s values, contributing to a successful and cohesive sales team.

What is your sales superpower?

Digging into a candidate’s strengths is crucial. It not only sheds light on their current skills but also reveals their potential for future development and alignment with your team’s needs. When posed with a question about their areas of expertise, their response becomes a window into their self-awareness and growth mindset. A thoughtful and specific answer that identifies unique areas of strength demonstrates both a keen understanding of their capabilities and a willingness to leverage them for success. 

Discuss a time when a prospective customer made things difficult for you. How did you win them over?

Asking this question provides you with important insights into how salespeople handle themselves when things don’t go as expected. A crucial characteristic of successful salespeople is their resilience in the face of challenging prospects. This translates to the ability to prioritize the client’s needs and persevere even when faced with setbacks or rejections. By setting aside their personal feelings and remaining focused on achieving mutually beneficial outcomes, they demonstrate both professionalism and a strong customer orientation. This allows them to build trust and navigate complex sales cycles effectively.

What is your go-to approach for closing a sale?

How a salesperson closes needs to be in alignment with your company’s sales process. So, having a detailed understanding of what they like to do is important. 

Crafting a compelling closing pitch requires striking a balance between professionalism and a genuine desire to understand the prospect’s needs. It should feel natural and confident, guiding the prospect towards a decision that aligns with their best interests, rather than applying pressure or resorting to manipulative tactics.

This emphasizes the positive aspects of a good closing pitch – natural, collaborative, and beneficial for both sides – while subtly discouraging practices that could hinder success. Look for candidates who take this approach to closing a sale. 

Tell us about the culture at your current/previous employer. What did you like about it?

You want people who fit your company culture. Asking this question will help you better understand if they are a good fit. Pay close attention to how the candidate describes their ideal work environment and motivations. This can help you gauge their alignment with our company culture. For instance, if they express concerns primarily focused on long hours and unattainable quotas, while our company values collaboration and fosters a work-life balance, their priorities may not fully align with the role and our work environment.

Talk about a time when you lost a sale. What did you learn?

You lose a lot more than you win in sales. Rejection is part of the job. So, it’s important to identify candidates that not only take the loss well but also learn from it. Sales is inherently a journey with both victories and setbacks. Even seasoned salespeople encounter losses, and the valuable lessons gleaned from these experiences are instrumental for future success. Learning from each loss allows them to refine their approach, strengthening their skills and increasing their chances of closing future deals

If you want to get the answers you are looking for, you have to ask great questions. Try integrating the above questions into your sales job interview process. Or contact us to get more information about how we can help you find a great salesperson, sales manager or VP of Sales.

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Claire McConnachie Recruiter

Claire McConnachie

Claire has 4+ years of experience in sales and recruitment. As a Director of Client Services, her main objective is to connect great people to great companies by building strong relationships with both top clients and candidates in the sales industry. She specializes in sales roles of all seniority levels for both enterprise and start-up clients North American wide. When Claire isn't networking with top talent, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends & family.