3 years ago
September 2, 2021

“Sell Me Something.” 4 Outdated Sales Interview Questions, And What to Ask Instead

Things have changed a lot over the years. How and where we work, the technology we use, and our approach to the sales process has evolved. However, many companies are…

Brandon Biafore Sales Recruiter
Brandon Biafore

Things have changed a lot over the years. How and where we work, the technology we use, and our approach to the sales process has evolved. However, many companies are still asking the same outdated questions in interviews. As one would expect, they are not getting the insights or answers they want to hear from candidates as a result.

Below we outline some of the commonly used but outdated sales interview questions and offer alternative questions to ask instead:


1. “Sell Me This Pen”

This is an age-old question sales employers have been asking candidates for decades. While you may get a sense of a candidate’s creativity and how quickly they can think on their feet, does it really tell you a lot about how they approach sales? Today, sales is about preparing and knowing the customer. It’s about helping them find a solution, not selling them something on the spot.

Ask Instead: “What Is Your Approach To Sales?”

Asking this question will give you a better insight into how the candidate approaches the sales process and how they work with customers.

2. “What Is Your Biggest Weakness?”

This question needs to be retired. People know this question is coming and employers are not going to get an answer that tells them anything relevant about the candidate. Most times, it will be a generalized response such as, “I work too much” or “I am never satisfied with my work. I’m a perfectionist.”

Ask Instead: “What skills or knowledge are you currently working on improving?”

This question will give you insights into areas where a candidate may need to improve. It also will give you some insight into the candidate’s drive and their method for improving themselves.

3. “Tell Me About Yourself”

As a hiring manager, you should have already reviewed the candidate’s resume, LinkedIn, and application package. Asking this question will most likely give you a regurgitation of this information, wasting valuable interview time. To the candidate, it could also appear you are not prepared.

Ask Instead: “Tell me more about XYZ.”

Ask about a specific part of their sales history or knowledge. Get the candidate to elaborate more on a particular point on their resume that will help you learn more about their sales abilities.

4. “Where Do You See Your Sales Career In 5 Years?”

This is a question where candidates feel like that have to say they want to be with the employer they are interviewing with. The reality is most candidates don’t know, and you will receive a generalized answer that will tell you very little new information about them.

Ask Instead: “What are some short-term career goals you would like to achieve?”

This is a softer question that allows you to hear more about the candidate, how they think, their ambitions, and where they see themselves in the future.

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Brandon Biafore Sales Recruiter

Brandon Biafore

With a background successfully leading sales teams (overseeing training & development, driving sales & revenue, and ensuring delivery of exceptional customer service while executing cost control), Brandon is a sales recruiter with a solid understanding of what it takes to succeed in sales leadership role, as well as the challenges faced by hiring managers in finding top sales talent.