How to prepare for sales job interviews image

The basics of how to prepare for a sales job interview are the same as preparing for any other job interview. While sales jobs require some specifics, such as proven experience or skills, overall the interview structure is likely to be quite standard.

However, knowing how to prepare for sales job interviews specifically can give you a significant advantage on the day. Here are some of the steps you can take to increase the strength of your application and improve your chances of making a good impression on the interviewers.

Before the interview

All of the usual rules about how to prepare for a job interview also apply to sales jobs. Research the company you are applying to, and try to go beyond just scratching the surface, to show that you genuinely care about working specifically for them.

Don't forget the basics: dress smart, be on time, and make sure you know where you're going – whether that be in person or virtual. If you've been asked to prepare anything, such as a written test, or to take a copy of your CV or qualifications, make sure you have everything you need with you.

During the interview

Good preparation puts you in a strong position to perform well during the interview itself, so try to anticipate what to expect. You may want to ask beforehand whether you will be facing one interviewer or several, and how long the interview might last - a good way to anticipate more in-depth questioning, but also to check afterwards whether your interview lasted longer than most.

An important part of interview preparation is trying to anticipate the specific questions the interviewer might ask. Some of these will feel like cliches - and they become cliches by being asked time and time again, so there's a good chance they will come up in future.
Remember, the interviewer is just a person too, so they may turn to stock questions to help fill the time, and to get standardised and comparable answers from multiple candidates. By preparing for these most common questions in sales job interviews, you ensure that you have all of the relevant information to give a complete and persuasive response.

Standard questions in sales job interviews

At Michael Page we keep track of the most common questions in sales job interviews and provide specific guidance on how to answer each question in the best way possible.
Here are some standard questions in interviews for sales jobs and other positions, with links to our detailed guide on answering each question to a high standard.

Why have you applied for this job?

A good answer here should include reference to the hiring company and why you want to work for them - a great opportunity to demonstrate that you have researched the role, not only in terms of the job itself, but also more generally in terms of company culture and employee satisfaction.

Read more about how to answer this question with real example answers.

What are your salary expectations?

This question can be relatively straightforward, especially if a salary was included in the job advertisement. For sales jobs, there may be a commission-based or performance-related pay element, so this can be a good way to incorporate your eagerness to meet and exceed expectations and a willingness to earn any bonuses, rather than seeing your salary as a monthly handout regardless of your sales figures.

Find out more about how to answer this question effectively.

Why are you suitable for this job?

This is a more personal question and it's important to answer the question that's been asked: why should the company want to hire you, not why you want the job. Try to step outside of yourself and answer objectively, focusing on your experience, skills and enthusiasm. Mention any unique attributes, such as familiarity with a technical market segment, which other candidates might lack.

Learn more best practice for answering this question.

What interests you about this role?

Your answer here can be quite general and again, more personal - you might want to work for the company, you might have a genuine interest in their products, or it might represent a slightly different challenge from your past jobs. Try to reference specifics of the role you are applying for - often in asking this question, the interviewer wants to check that you actually understand the job you will be doing day to day, if you are successful.

Three different ways to approach your answer.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

If you are asked this question - or you are simply asked about your weaknesses - give an honest answer. You are highly likely to be asked a version of this, so be prepared to face it head-on with some genuine weaknesses, as well as the ways you are working on personal development. Employers know that, especially for entry-level and junior sales jobs, candidates are rarely the finished article. A willingness and even a desire to improve can be worth so much more, especially in roles where the employer wants someone they can train.

How to turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

A well thought-out answer to this can actually be a very strong part of your interview, as it shows the hiring manager your expectations and ambitions. Five years is long enough to become fully confident in your role and to look towards one or even multiple promotions - but it's probably not long enough to be managing director, so avoid being over-ambitious. Just be pragmatic and show that you have researched the opportunities for progression, and that you are enthusiastic about offering your employer maximum value over the medium term.

See some best practice ways to answer this question.

What’s next?

Looking for a new sales role right now? Get in touch with the team at Michael Page Sales who can help you find your next dream role. 

Get in touch

Download your Job Applicant Toolkit

Download your toolkit for tips on your upcoming interview.

Download your toolkit today

Find out how much you could be earning

Discover your worth in today's market ahead of your interview with our exclusive data.

Download our salary guide