7 years ago
February 21, 2017

How to Interview a Sales Person Effectively

Following are several tips to help you interview when you’re hiring a new sales person.

Rhys Metler


When you’re hiring a new sales person, a little extra care and strategy on your part can make a big difference to your sales team in the long run. Finding the right sales person for your team can motivate your other reps and bring fresh energy to your organization.

The interviewing process is one of the best methods for finding the right sales person for your team. Of course, resumes and referrals are very helpful, but effective interviewing can be your best hiring tool. Following are several tips to help you interview sales people more effectively.

Ask Specific Questions

The best way to stay in control of the interview and steer it where you want it to go is to ask good, specific questions. Here are some examples of questions that will allow you to ascertain a candidate’s skills, experience, ambition, and desire:

  • What is your understanding of our company’s sales cycle? How does it compare with sales cycles you’ve worked with in the past?
  • What type of compensation structure do you prefer?
  • What new markets could our company pursue, and how would you suggest developing these markets?
  • What are your sales goals? How do you plan to achieve those goals?
  • What are your greatest sales strengths? What do you do to alleviate your sales weaknesses?

Note the Silences

Most conversations are marked by a period or two of silence as both parties digest information and think about what’s coming next. Take note of how the candidate handles the silence. Do they try to plug every silence with small talk? Do they awkwardly wait for you to take up the slack? These silences can help you to understand how a sales person will behave during sales calls and can help you to understand their social skills a little better.

Pay Attention to Rapport

A good sales person will try to build rapport with anyone they talk with, so pay attention to how your candidates build rapport with you. Do they notice the pictures of your children or dog on your desk? Do they try to find common interests and build a relationship with you?

Rapport-building skills are incredibly important in a sales person. These skills help them not only to make sales but also to build long-term relationships with repeat customers. Find ways to determine whether candidates have rapport-building skills during your interviews.

Test Their Follow-Up Skills

Find a way to test your candidates’ follow up skills. One easy way to do this is to pay attention to whether or not they follow up with a thank you note or email afterward. If you’ve discussed something in the interview that they wanted to research, remember what it was, and take note of any follow-up conversations you have about the topic.

Follow-up skills are essential for good sales people. Many sales are made after the initial sales call when a need arises. Those that follow up with prospects are often the ones who get the business in the long run.

Effective interviews begin with good preparation on the part of the interviewer. Write out your questions so you don’t forget anything essential, and take notes of your impressions afterward. It’s easy to let all the candidates run together in your mind if you don’t write down your impressions. As you improve your interviewing skills, you’ll find that you hire the kinds of sales people who can really make a difference on your team.

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.