Sales Interview Questions

A strong sales team is critical to the success of your business and the core of building an overall team that works. They are the key to getting your product or service out to the world to create raving fan customers, as well as a representation of your company culture and the business itself.

Hiring the right people to be part of this team is challenging, but once you narrow down what to ask, it becomes much easier to forge a powerful group. Here are some sales interview questions to help you choose the right people for the job.

Are they capable of doing the job?

This is probably one of the most obvious questions to ask in a sales interview, but there are nuances you should consider instead of sticking to a blanket “yes” or “no.” An individual should meet your basic requirements for the role – approachable, well-dressed and intelligent – but keep an open mind when looking at résumés and interviewing. A candidate might not have five years of experience, but if they display dynamic potential, the right mindset and a willingness to learn, they will likely fit your business far better than the sales associate who’s been working for 15 years.

This leads to other questions: If they require training, do you have the resources to provide it? Do they strike you as the type of individual who will learn easily or will it be a struggle to train them?

giving sales interview questions

Are they passionate?

sales interview questions

As Tony Robbins says, “There is no greatness without a passion to be great.” You don’t want complacency in your sales people; you want driven individuals who are enthusiastic about achieving their own desires. The key is to ensure they can transfer that enthusiasm to your product or service. Ask your applicant, “What do you think about what we offer?” or “What do you want to learn more about?” Discuss what you offer with them at length, and study their body language as they respond to your questions and conversation.

Asking the right sales interview questions is crucial because your sales staff is crucial. Consumers know when their sales person isn’t entirely behind a product or service. Subconsciously they’ll start to doubt making the purchase at all. Conversely, an enthusiastic sales person who is passionate about the product will automatically draw potential customers in.

Are they a match for your company?

Some questions to ask in a sales interview will revolve around the applicant’s personality. This is where you gauge whether or not this individual seems like a fit for in your company’s culture. Are they constantly on edge whereas you tend to hire relaxed personalities? More importantly, do they embody the identity of your company? Share your cultural values with the applicant, then ask, “How would you adopt these principles and make them your own?”

Consider the values your business holds, your company vision and what you expect of all your employees. This individual will be the face of your company for potential customers; are you comfortable with people associating your brand with this person?

sales team interview questions

What are their goals?

sales interview questions

People create their goals, either consciously or subconsciously, based on their ranking of the six human needs. The best employee you can find is the one who sees working for you as a step toward achieving their own goals, whatever they may be.

For example, if you sell medical devices and your applicant is driven by a desire to help people, their goals may well dovetail with yours. Asking a potential sales manager interview questions such as “Where do you see yourself in a year?” is a way to open this conversation. If your applicant wants to take off after a year and explore the wild, they probably aren’t someone you can count on to stick around for the long term. “What makes you feel fulfilled?” will help you discern exactly what values this individual holds. You’re looking for employees who will stay with you through thick and thin – people who will commit to representing your brand.

Do they think big?

If you’re a sales manager, interview questions should also center on how much an applicant wants to grow themselves – and how much they think your company can grow. “How do you see the company now, and six months from now? How do you see yourself growing here?” are great questions to ask in a sales interview to determine their mindset.

Do they see themselves – and you – as a one-town shop? Or are they imagining growth on a global scale, the kind of massive expansion that requires risk and innovative thinking?

man asking sales interview questions

The power of Socratic questions

Sometimes, asking straightforward, common sales interview questions is just not enough to determine who will be the best fit for your company. Marketing expert Jay Abraham suggests using what he calls Socratic questions during the interview process. Socratic questions are based on critical thinking and can be used to explore complex ideas, extract the truth of things and uncover assumptions that could lead to limiting beliefs. Not only will these types of sales interview questions tell you whether or not a potential employee would be a good fit, but they can help you learn more about yourself and your organization as a whole, too.

When your interviewee states a viewpoint or perspective, ask them probing questions such as, “What alternative ways of looking at this are there?” If you feel they are answering based on their assumptions, explore that further with questions like “How can you verify or disprove that assumption?” You can also weave conceptual clarification sales interview questions into the interview such as “Why are you saying that?” or “What exactly does that mean?”

When you ask Socratic questions, make sure you deeply listen to the answers. The way they address these questions tells you not only how they fit (or don’t fit) the job, but how they think.  If the interviewee responds well to these sales interview questions, you can rely on the fact that you’re hiring an open-minded individual who is aware of and in charge of his or her own emotions and will bring a sense of ownership and pride to their work. 

Time constraints aside, there is no end to the number of questions to ask in a sales interview. Keep in mind the role you’re hiring for and the guardrails you’ve set up, and you’ll find the right individuals to help you achieve massive growth.

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