Salespeople tend to have a greater advantage that others when it comes to interviewing because their personalities naturally gravitate towards getting others to buy something. In this case, they are effectively selling themselves to the interviewer. They often know what types of questions to expect in an interview for a sales job and have rehearsed the answers ahead of time. If the interviewer is unaware of this, he or she may end up making a regrettable hiring decision.
Questions to Gauge How Serious the Applicant is About the Position
Any candidate for a sales position can anticipate how to answer questions such as “How would you sell me this product?” or “What is your typical daily sales process?” Before even getting to such questions, it’s important for the interviewer to zero in on how well the candidate has researched the company and how good of a fit he or she is likely to be.
After exchanging introductions, the human resources representative needs to ensure that he or she maintains control of the interview from the start. For example, it’s a good idea to explain to the job applicant how the allotted time for the interview, the basic structure, and approximately how long he or she has to answer each question. This helps to keep the process on track as well as forces the interviewee to think of answers quickly. With that out of the way, the interviewer should consider starting the job interview with the following types of focused questions:
- What can you tell me about this industry generally and our company specifically? Candidates who have conducted extensive research want to advance their career with this position.
- What do you expect to accomplish with this job? This question helps to gauge ambition while weeding out those who don’t have aggressive enough goals.
- How have you prepared to be successful in this job? This should go beyond research to specific steps such as seeking a mentor who once held a similar position or studying the company sales catalogs.
The answer to these three questions can help determine how much longer the interview should last.
Target Questions for Sales Position Interviews
It’s now time to start asking questions to determine what the candidate knows and what he or she may need to learn on the job. Determining if the person is a good fit personality wise is also important. The following are some sample questions recommended by sales industry insiders:
- How do you divide your time between prospecting for new customers and nurturing the customer relationships you already have? Explain your reasoning for this.
- Do you have a specific strategy for overcoming sales objections? How successful do you feel it is?
- What steps do you take to research a prospect before contacting him or her for the first time?
- Do you feel that a short sales cycle requires a different approach than a long sales cycle? Why or why not?
- What personal traits do you feel are important for sales success? Do you feel that you possess these qualities?
Making great sales hires is never easy. It requires a transformational shift from passively performing as candidates expect to taking control of the interview by testing motivation and commitment first and then learning more about the applicant’s specific skills.
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