Seven insightful interview questions to ask a sales candidate

You would never go into a sales call unprepared, so never go into an interview unprepared. A successful sales interview is dependent on asking good interview questions. Hiring managers should be aware that, thanks to the internet and social media, interview question examples are now readily available to everyone. So if you rely on typical interview questions, you are likely to get fully rehearsed responses. Our experienced sales recruitment consultants have come up with some unusual but insightful questions to ask a sales candidate.

1. What is your understanding of this company's sales cycle and how does it compare to what you've done in the past?

This question will show the candidate’s knowledge of your company’s processes as well as get them talking in detail about their sales experience. If you listen closely, you’ll be able to tell if the candidate was an order taker, a new sales hunter or someone somewhere in between.

2. What would stop you from being successful?

This question will show whether the candidate believes in themselves. You’ll be able to tell if they are confident that they will succeed as well as seeing whether they are in the habit of blaming elements outside of their own control if they don’t succeed.

3. Why shouldn’t we hire you?

This assesses the candidate’s honesty, resourcefulness and whether they understand their own development areas (and ideally, what they are proactively doing to improve in those areas). They need to be able to come up with an answer that doesn’t off-sell their capabilities.

4. Which new job now is going to get you your ideal job in the future?

This question assesses how much a candidate has thought about their future career. You’ll be able to tell whether they are interested in your role because it’s convenient for now or if they see it as a stepping stone on the road to their ideal future career. Obviously, the latter is preferable.

5. Talk me through a typical deal/sales process/case study?

This allows the interviewer to assess the level of autonomy and commercialism the candidate has. It specifically assesses things like lead generation, lead qualification, length of sales cycle, volume of work load, complexity of the solution, etc.

6. Out of Elton John, Jamie Oliver and Alan Sugar who would you like to have a night out with, who would you like to share a house with and who would you show the door and why?

This is a spin on a well known question that assesses a candidate’s ability to make a decision, plan and prioritise, and present a rationale behind the decisions. It can also provide insight to the whether the candidate will fit in well with the team.

7. What are your observations of how our brands/products/services are perceived in the current market and what would you initially implement to further penetrate the routes to market.

This question assesses the individual’s sector knowledge and resourcefulness. It allows the candidate the opportunity to give a ‘finger on the pulse’ answer, show the value they would add and essentially, gives you a true sense of their commercial ability.
For more interview advice or to discuss your sales hiring needs, contact your local Michael Page Sales office now.