10 years ago
January 6, 2015

5 Ways Employers Should Prepare For a Sales Interview

Before you ever sit down with a candidate for a sales interview, make sure you’ve done the following things to prepare.

Rhys Metler

Hiring a sales candidate can take your company in one of two very different directions. A sales person who doesn’t take initiative and can’t sell your products will be a drain on your company’s resources. You’ll have to spend time training, encouraging, and supporting this person. On the other hand, a competent, ambitious sales person can bring new energy to your organization, motivating your other employees and improving your bottom line.

Therefore, it’s imperative that you prepare well for a sales interview. During an interview, you’ll have to use your best discretion, ask probing questions, and make crucial decisions. Before you ever sit down with a candidate for a sales interview, make sure you’ve done the following things to prepare.

1. Write a relevant, specific job posting

The broader your job posting, the more responses you’ll get. This may sound like a good thing, but your time is valuable. If 90% of the people who respond to your job posting are not qualified for the position, you will have to spend vast amounts of precious time sifting through irrelevant resumes and applications to find the ones you’re looking for. Save time (both for yourself and for your applicants) by being very specific in your job posting. If your sales person needs certifications or specific industry experience, say so. Also, check your job posting to make sure it’s free from typographical and grammatical errors. Make a great impression on the superstars in your industry.

2. Make a list of must-haves

Even after you sort through all of the applications, you’ll probably still have more candidates than you want to bring in for a sales interview. To avoid interviewing too many, sit down and make a list of must-haves for your new sales employee. These characteristics should be above and beyond the bare minimum requirements for the position and they may have more to do with temperament and your existing employees. Does your company need a highly motivated person? Someone who is a team player? Years of experience?

3. Make a list of questions

If you make up your list of sales interview questions in advance, you’ll have a better chance of doing a thorough job during the sales interview. Also, if you use the same list of questions with each candidate, it will be easier for you to compare them after the interviews are all done. To get a good understanding of each candidate, use some of the following questions:

  • What are your long- and short-term professional goals?
  • What do you do personally for your professional development?
  • What kinds of goals motivate you best?
  • What is your most significant personal accomplishment?
  • What is your biggest failure in life? What did you learn from it?
  • What is the reason for your past success?
  • How do you generate sales leads?
  • How do you elicit referrals?
  • How do you overcome buyer skepticism and objections?
  • How do you evaluate team members?
  • What are your greatest sales strengths and weaknesses?

Use these questions to get you started, but ask more pointed questions regarding your specific industry, company, and position.

4. Prepare ways to sell yourself

The superstar sales people in your industry can be picky about their jobs, so you’ll have to be prepared to sell yourself during a sales interview. Think about what you have to offer: benefits, advancement opportunities, education and training, bonuses, a dynamic work atmosphere. Be prepared to drop hints about these items during the sales interview as well as to answer direct questions from your candidates.

5. Be observant

Finally, be on the lookout for clues during a sales interview. Note each candidate’s appearance since a sales person’s appearance reflects the company’s. See how the candidate tries to close the deal and asks for feedback. Does the candidate send a thank you note after the sales interview? A good sales person will. By preparing well for a sales interview, you’ll find the candidate you’re looking for.

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.