The top five sales interview questions and answers
Whether you’re looking to land your first job in sales, or you’re a seasoned pro who wants to move on, these sales interview tips will help you on your journey.
Our top five interview questions for sales jobs – or subtle variations of them – are sure to come up. By learning and preparing for them, you’ll go into that interview armed with killer replies to whatever comes your way.
Learn how to sell yourself, make your experiences relevant to the job you’re applying for and make a great first impression.
Whether you’re looking to land your first job in sales or you’re seasoned pro who wants to move on, preparation is key to success. Learn to answer these sales interview questions and answers, and you’ll be halfway home before you’ve even set out for the interview.
1/ Sell yourself in one sentence
It’s an oldie but it still trips people up. Interviewers want you to think on your feet, but the answer to this one is best prepared beforehand. Start with paper or your laptop – whatever you take notes on. Now jot down what makes you unique, then edit down to one sentence.
Better yet, boil your description down to the three words that best describe you. Interviewers might ask you to elaborate, so think of job-related examples you can tie to each character trait. For example, “I showed drive to climb from Office Assistant to Lead Salesperson in my current job. I believe a career with you would let me progress even further. That’s why I’m here.”
Interviewers ask this question a lot. So be brief, be interesting and be yourself.
2/ Tell us about your best sale
Here companies are looking for examples of how and why you were successful. So describe how you found the lead, what you did to pique their interest and how you closed.
Remember, your best sale doesn’t have to the highest value one. Go for the sale with a story attached. Talk about that dead lead the rest of sales team avoided, the piece of product research you found to get the buyer interested, or how your team took you to lunch to celebrate after you closed.
3/ Sell me this pen
It stumps a room of salespeople when Leo asks it in Wolf of Wall Street, and it still trips up people today. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, interviewers just want to see your approach to the problem and how you think on your feet.
A good place to start is by prioritising benefits over features. Don’t worry, you can make them up in this scenario. So don’t talk about the pen’s fine tip, instead discuss how it’ll help make messy handwriting more legible. The pen isn’t just metal, it’s a chrome fashion item to accessorise with. It isn’t just a ballpoint, it’s a reliable asset that won’t dry up when called on to write down that number.
Better yet, ask your interviewers what frustrates them about writing and how this pen can solve it. Whatever your technique, speak with enthusiasm, use positive body language and remember to close the sale. “So, can I wrap this pen up for you?”
4/ What makes a good Salesperson?
You have the one job in the world where you can answer unashamedly with making ‘money’. But that’s just part of the answer. The rest will come from the research you put in before the interview.
If you know it’s a small start-up, ‘teamwork’ will be more important than ‘hitting personal targets’. So do your homework and match your genuine passions with the company culture.
If you do mention money, you could talk about cash made in a sale or savings made by efficient processes you have implemented. Again, prepare real-life examples to backup your answer.
5/ How could you improve our sales – in the first month
Here’s where you’ll draw from your research. The interviewer is looking for specific examples – but being the pro you are – you’ve already been covering these with your previous answers.
Now build on them. Start with what the company does well. Do they have great telephone agents with customer-service awards? Great. Name drop those and talk about your experience in telesales. Are their sales emails fun, informative and engaging? Awesome. Mention how you loved that last subject line. Is their website a crushing disappointment? Now’s your time to mention your e-commerce experience and how you help nudge customers through the conversion funnel.
And remember stats. The percentage profits increased and the return on interest (ROI) of the last sales campaign you worked on will help to show the interviewers that you aren’t just talking the talk.