How to Answer the Toughest Sales Interview Questions

How to Answer the Toughest Sales Interview Questions

Here are the top 5 questions you should expect in your next sales interview along with questions for the company. The interview process isn’t a time for the interviewer to grill you until you’re spit out and charred. It’s a new era in job hunting where you as a job seeker are looking to glean as much information as you can to see if this is even a place where you would want to work. Interviewing the company not only shows you’ve done your research, it shows you’re looking for a company that is right, not just a company for right now.

Here are the top 5 questions you should expect in your sales interview, with educated questions you can ask back.

What made you get into sales?

Commission is probably your reflexive response, but you want to show you’re quality… and quantity. You can spin it a few ways. Maybe you’re competitive by nature and grew up playing sports. Or in your previous position you noticed that your marketing chops could be applied to help solve underlying problems while servicing a new type of client. Try to have a more in depth answer than you’re all about the benjamins.

What motivates you?

Again money may be your first thought, but consider this a great cultural fit question. This is a great opportunity to share your values like helping people find the perfect software solution or describe a challenge you overcame during a long cycle close. In return, ask how the company helps motivate their sales people. Dig deep to discover if they’re into team goals or individual goals, how the leads are divided, or if they offer any other non-monetary sales commissions. It’s a great time to show you’re a hot commodity who isn’t interested in working for any company; you’re interested in the right company.

What’s your favorite or least favorite part of the sales process?

Another question that clues you into cultural fit. Honesty is the best policy when giving your answer. Hate the rah-rah sales meeting, but love to work leads independently? Prefer shorter sales cycles to long ones? Saying what your preferences are can save you from taking a job that was never a good fit in the first place. Follow up by asking the interviewer if your preferences are in line with the sales team’s values.

Break down how you spend your time for me. In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating client relationships vs. on the prowl for new clients?

Everyone is oh-so-busy. Answer this question by giving specifics coupled with numbers. Say you spent January-March prospect hunting because your target clients have a bigger budget in the beginning of the year. This allowed you to meet quota early while leaving time later to focus on previous clients without looming pressure. Show that you understand both have a place in the sales role while showing you manage your time efficiently. Bonus points for asking the question back to the interviewer to see how the best salespeople are dividing their time on the grind.

Do you see any opportunities for us to improve our sales process?

Loaded question here. The interviewer is looking to see how much research you’ve done prior to the interview and looking for creativity. Begin by genuinely complimenting on something you see them doing right, followed up with your explanation on an area where you see an opportunity. To see if you would be a good fit on the sales team, ask the interviewer what the most common complaint is that comes out of the team and how the company is looking to fix it.