11 interview questions for sales people

You’ve read the CV. You’ve asked them about their previous job and achieving targets there and how they did it. They want a job, so ask them a few tangential questions…

  • Ask them what they do outside of work – if they’re a dare devil speed merchant and in the TA and the rest of your team are all into tai chi there might be some issues
  • Ask if they like people – if they don’t three weeks down the line they’ll be sat there moaning about them all day.
  • Do they have a favourite book – literacy is important, I don’t care too much about spelling, that’s what spell check is for, but a complete absence of imagination is scary and doesn’t make a good sales person. People who only read magazines are weird
  • Do they understand social media – a total blank here is worrying, if not unemployable in marketing
  • Biggest achievement – don’t limit it to work; you get some good insight here. Maybe also a little bit depressed but, it’s got to be done.
  • How they plan to commute – simple question – timekeeping is important and a two hour commute will soon become unbearable. Whatever the Home Secretary says to the contrary it’s not really doable.
  • What do they enjoy about sales – I don’t even care if they lie here, as long as they say something intelligent and convincing. Failure here means no 2nd interview
  • Do they understand what your company does –  if someone turns up and hasn’t spent more than three minutes on your website why give them any longer in an interview? Demonstrate a bit of research, some motivation to be a part of something, basic respect.
  • How do they like to work? – Pretty obvious why you ask this. If you can’t work this out you oughtn’t be interviewing anyone, even yourself.
  • Why us? It’s a chance to do an elevator pitch…reversed.
  • What makes you special? Sales people ought to be able to cope with this – if they struggle then perhaps sales isn’t right for them after all.

Of course you’ll have a pretty good understanding of whether these are a good fit. I’ve been in lots if interview situations and people who interview well because they have rehearsed and practised the answers to the stock questions tend to be awful work colleagues and not great to manage. I’d rather have an individual who is self motivated, articulate and bright as part of our team – after all our clients need to be able to work with them as well.

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