The Sales Interview Questions You Need to Be Asking

Written by: Lisa Rose
The Sales Interview Questions You Need to Be Asking

Hiring salespeople is one of the most important jobs a sales leader has. But with a million other things on your to-do list, the long, drawn out interview process can feel like a hassle.

We’ve gone ahead and made your life easier with this list of sales interview questions. The list is broken down into 3 sections to get to the nitty gritty about the motivators, skills, and behaviors most important to the sales position you’re looking to fill.

Use these sales interview questions to find the salespeople who are the best fit for your organization.

Sales Interview Questions to Reveal True Money Motivation

Everyone has a unique set of motivators that gets them out of bed in the morning and drives them to perform throughout the day. When you’re trying to fill an open sales position, it’s important to find someone who is highly motivated by making money, and the ability to control their income level.

Sales jobs reward the drive to make money, and the more weight your sales position places on commission, the more driven a person will need to be in this area.

Use the following questions to reveal how motivated your sales candidate is by money, and look out for red flags that indicate their drive to make money is not as high as they may want you to think.

  • What are your longer-term career aspirations?
  • How has your compensation been structured in the past at your most recent employer?
  • If you were to place a ratio on salary vs. commission what would that ratio look like?
  • In an ideal world, how would your compensation be structured?
  • How have you achieved year-over-year growth in your accounts and in your territory with new business development?

Sales Interview Questions to Assess Selling Skills Ability

Selling skills can be taught and refined, but ideally, you’ll want to bring people onto your team who are already proficient in basic sales acumen. Use the interview process to gauge how well a candidate understands the strategies necessary to successfully move a prospect through each stage of the selling process.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all selling skills will translate easily from one industry or selling environment to another. Your first step should be to gain a deep understanding of what skills are most important for the job you’re trying to fill. Then, tailor your interview questions to drill down on those areas.

Use the following questions to answer the basic question, “can this person sell?”

  • Walk me through your sales process of choice.
  • How would you start working a territory from scratch?
  • Walk me through your process for developing a prospecting plan.
  • What is your process for determining if a prospect is qualified?
  • Where specifically do you need to grow your sales skill set?
  • How do you handle situations when a prospective buyer insists you cut your price?

Questions to Uncover Behavior Style and Personal Skills

You can gain a lot of insight into how well a candidate will perform in your unique sales environment by understanding their behavior style and personal/soft skills. When a person’s attitudes, beliefs, and communication style are matched to the work they do every day, they’re naturally more motivated to excel.

For this interviewing technique to be effective, everyone involved in the selection process needs to come to a consensus on exactly what the sales role requires for success. Then, ask questions to determine if the candidate will align well with the culture, team, and position.

[For a more in depth-list of soft skill behavioral interview questions, check out the download at the end of this post!]

  • How do you differentiate yourself personally?
  • What role does sales team alignment with the rest of the organization play in the overall success of the team?
  • What’s more important: being decisive or slowing down to pay attention to detail?
  • Describe a time you lost a longer-term customer. What happened? How did you handle it?
  • Have you ever had a losing streak? How did you turn it around?

Steps to Take After the Face-to-Face or Phone Interview

Take thorough notes during and after each interview so you and your hiring team can narrow your candidate pool down to the top few. Remember, it’s easy to be charmed during the interview process, but don’t base your hiring decision on how well you got along with a candidate.

To truly find someone who is a good fit and who will perform well (and stick around), you need to be objective. A good way to overcome biases and select the best-matched candidate is to assess your finalists with a validated assessment tool like Brooks Talent Index.

Brooks Talent Index combines three scientifically validated assessments into one system, and can be incorporated into your sales hiring strategy as extra insurance that you’re selecting the most qualified candidate.

Hiring new salespeople is one of the most important decisions a company will make. Prioritize the hiring process accordingly, and your extra effort will pay off in the long run.


Soft Skills Behavioral Interview Questions

Having an idea of the soft skills a specific position requires will help you determine whether a candidate is a good fit or not. Download our list of suggested behavioral interview questions related to specific soft skills such as:

  • Self Management
  • Planning and Organizing
  • Conceptual Thinking
  • And more!

Written By

Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose is a Group Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. Lisa has passion for helping managers develop a unique, motivational sales culture in their organizations. She can drive sales managers who merely put out fires day to day to flourish as visionaries who can motivate their team and generate results for their sales organizations.

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