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 highlight whether the candidate has done their research prior to your meeting. It enables them to showcase their knowledge of your company’s processes, and will get them talking in detail about their sales experience. If you listen closely, you’ll also be able to gauge what level of experience the candidate has and what kind of role they had in the past.

2. How do you research your target customer before a call or meeting? What information do you look for?

A good sales professional will always have a strategy for a sales call or meeting. By asking this question, you can gauge a candidate’s ability to plan ahead and gain an insight into the resources they make use of to ensure they are well-equipped to make a sale. Although this process is one that each candidate should be familiar with, asking them on the spot will show you whether they attempt to talk their way through a sales call or have a methodical approach to a sales pitch.

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). This is a spin on the well-known question; what are your weaknesses? The candidate needs to be able to come up with an answer that doesn’t off-sell their capabilities.

4. Have you ever turned a customer away? And if so, why?

This is another question that will allow you to better understand the level of experience and business acumen of a candidate. As the business world evolves there is an increasing focus on the customer and ensuring we are delivering products and services that are beneficial to them, as well as their individual circumstances. Because of this, in some cases, it may be necessary to turn some customers away.

If they haven’t turned someone away before, ask in what scenario they would do so.Closing a deal or pitching a solution that isn’t right for the customer could be detrimental to the future of your business, so it is important to know you are hiring people who understand this.

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

Use this to assess the level of autonomy and commercialism the candidate has. If approached correctly, you should be able to assess things like lead generation, lead qualification, length of the sales cycle, workload, and the complexity of the solution.

6. Tell me about your biggest achievement.

While this doesn’t relate directly to the workplace, it can give you an insight into the candidate’s values. This is useful for hiring at all levels, from entry-level candidates to senior leaders. Understanding what motivates your employees is key to the future success of your sales team.

Additionally, the way a candidate chooses to answer this question will highlight their ability to think fast and present a rationale for their decisions. It can also provide insight into the candidate’s potential fit 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 give you a true sense of their commercial ability.

We speak to both employers looking to hire and professionals exploring the market every day. We understand what’s important when hiring a new employee and how best to assess a sales candidate.

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If you are an employer and would like to talk to us about your current recruitment needs, or learn about the salary benchmarks and skills in demand, then please fill in the form below, and one of our consultants will call you back.

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