7 years ago
February 21, 2017

5 Lessons Learned from Sales Job Interviews

Sales job interviews can be a stressful situation. Here are five lessons that past candidates have learned from their sales job interviews.

Claire McConnachie Recruiter
Claire McConnachie

Sales job interviews can be a stressful situation, especially if you go in unprepared. While all job interviews are somewhat similar, they all have individual quirks that can throw you off balance. Sales job interviews can be even worse, since they’re typically looking for someone who can begin performing right away. They may not be offering much time to learn the ropes, so you have to come across as professional, experienced, and ready to jump right in. If you’re feeling stressed out about sales job interviews, don’t feel bad–you’re not alone. A lot of salespeople have come and gone before you, and it’s important to learn from their experiences. Here are five lessons that past candidates have learned from their sales job interviews.

Cover the Basics

This part should go without saying–unfortunately, it still has to be repeated. A frightening number of applicants arrive at sales job interviews without a basic understanding of, and adherence to, business etiquette. If you’re trying to market yourself as a professional, you’d better be able to present yourself as one.

  • Be on time, every time. By on time, I mean fifteen minutes early, at least.
  • Dress the part. Don’t be afraid to visit or call in advance to find out the dress code.
  • Introduce yourself, shake hands, stand until asked to sit.
  • Turn your cell phone off. Not silent, not vibrate, not one of those tones that you think only young people can hear–off.
  • Be prepared. Have identification and any paperwork they requested with you.
  • Make sure you are well-groomed, your teeth are freshly brushed, you’re wearing little or no perfume or cologne, and don’t be afraid to use some deodorant right before the time of your interview.

Everybody Loves a Story

At some point in almost all sales job interviews, the interviewer asks you for some story that highlights your experience with your past employers. Don’t try to think of and present a story on the fly. Your future employment may depend on how you, your past employer, and your former co-workers appear in your story. Plan for and rehearse stories for a few different scenarios ahead of time. Make sure the story focuses on you and your skills– sales job interviews aren’t the time for humility or glory-sharing.

Ask Some Questions

If you don’t show any interest or curiosity in the company during sales job interviews, they probably won’t have much interest in you. Do a little research ahead of time, and come up with a few questions you can ask the interviewer. Remember, they’re typically nervous too, and a few simple questions can ease the dialog for both of you. Don’t try to stump them or try to look like a smart-aleck, just have a few questions that truly interest you and that show your interest in the company.

Listen and Learn

During sales job interviews, a lot of information will be coming your way. Whether they intend to or not, interviewers will be giving you information that you can use to your advantage. If you’re simply sitting there, waiting for your turn to talk, you may miss something important. You need to actively listen and absorb what the interviewer is telling you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if there is any information that’s unclear to you.

Know What You’re Worth

While you’re doing research on the company, do a little bit on yourself, and others like you. Find out what someone with your education and experience can expect to make in your current market. When the interviewer asks about your salary requirements, telling them that you don’t know makes you look coy at best, uninformed at worst. Have some working numbers to start from–you can bet the company knows what you should be making. Part of sales job interviews is salary negotiations–how can you negotiate if you don’t know what you’re worth?

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.