Top 10 questions to ask in a sales interview (Part 2)

In this two-part blog series, we identify the top 10 questions to ask in a sales interview to ensure you find the top sales talent.

If you missed the first part of this blog series, you can catch up here.

6. Have you ever stopped the sales process with a prospect? If so, why?

In sales, you need to know when to not take on work. If the client’s requests are unrealistic or won’t generate the business any profits, you know when to say no. It’s also about due diligence; would the candidate sell to someone with a poor credit history or CCJs (County Court Judgments) against them? Selling to someone in such a position could be bad for the business and likely come back to haunt the salesperson. Rather than selling to everyone and anyone, it’s important to find the right customers for the business.


7. What would your previous line manager outline as your biggest area for improvement?

You need to be able to not only find a candidate’s strengths, but also their weaknesses as this is what you will need to overcome. It’s important that candidates are aware of their weaknesses and convey them with honesty as this demonstrates that they know what they need to improve. Answers such as “”I’m a workaholic”” or “”I have too much attention to detail”” aren’t explicitly weaknesses – you want honest, realistic answers that show the candidate has thought about their areas of weakness. It also gives you the opportunity to ask the candidate about what they have done to address those weaknesses.


8. How would a former client describe your personality?

This question is about how candidates project themselves professionally and how they want to be perceived. With this question, you will be able to assess how candidates have built relationships with clients in the past. It’s also a chance for the candidate to provide examples of where they demonstrated these qualities with clients.


9. If you were going through a losing streak, how would you turn it around?

The best salespeople are tenacious, resilient, resourceful and adaptable. More so than any other profession, salespeople encounter failure on a regular basis but they overcome that failure by altering their approach. When it comes to interviewing candidates for sales roles, you should be looking for those that can demonstrate these traits and know how to strategically approach problems.


10. If you were hired for this position, what would you do in your first three months?

Whenever you ask a candidate, “”What would you do in your first month?”” the answer is typically along the lines of getting acquainted with staff, understanding business processes and learning as much as possible. In many respects, the first month is just the crash course, it’s not until months two and three that things start to pick up. So, instead, ask this question: “”What would you do in your first three months?”” This question gives the candidate the chance to fully consider themselves in the role – what would they do? What changes would they implement? (If they can offer suggestions on how the business can improve it highlights that they have done their research into your business!) How would they perform? The answer they provide (and the level of detail they go in to) will reflect how much they have thought about themselves in the position you’re offering; you can then align their aims and objectives with what you have seen with other recruits who have moved through the business in the past.

Lastly, the question shows their ambition and how they expect themselves to perform over the three-month period. It should take a good salesperson three to six months to get up to speed, so if a candidate already has a plan in place for the first three, you’re onto a winner.

Those are our top 10 questions to ask in a sales interview. Include these questions in your interview process and start engaging with the right candidates!

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