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How to Spot the Star Sellers: 10 Questions to Ask in a Sales Interview

written by sales-i Marketing Team

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Asking a potential candidate what animal they’d be may tell you a bit about them personality wise, but lions have never made particularly good sales people. (Let’s face it, everyone says lion when asked that question).

Hypothetical questioning is just one example of the common mistakes that sales managers make when conducting sales interviews. Spotting a good sales person isn’t always easy, but there are some steps you can take when planning your interview questions, making it easier to spot potential.

Let’s consider some of the mistakes which can lead to a bad hire, and what you can ask to ensure you can identify the star sellers amongst the more average applicants.

Five Mistakes To Avoid When Building a Sales Team

1. Job Description and Candidate Specifications are Unclear
Try and resist using any internal terminology or jargon when describing the job requirements. You want the potential salesperson to understand clearly what is expected of them.
You can avoid this error by making sure that a colleague from the wider team reviews the description and can clearly explain back to you what they understand about the role. If they can’t, take their advice on what would make it clearer and amend accordingly.

2. Asking Candidates Hypothetical Questions
We’ve given the animal question above, another example would be something like ‘If X happened, how would you handle it?’. The major issue with this type of questioning is that:
a) Your candidate, if they have had many previous sales interviews, will be expecting it and can pre-prepare their answers.
b) Hypothetical questions don’t provide good insight into what type of employee they’ll be.
Rather than hypotheticals, experience based are the more effective questions to ask in a sales interview. Some examples are below.

3. Interrogating the Candidate
As the interviewer, you are expected to lead the discussion, but don’t dominate. Make the interview feel more like a conversation. Think about the art of selling and making sure your customer (in this case, candidate) has the opportunity to learn about you and build a trusting rapport to give open and honest answers. They’ll begin learning how you operate and how they should operate, right from the start.

4. Failing to Determine if They Have Drive
One of the biggest sales interview tips is finding ways to determine whether your candidate has drive – a key personality trait in any successful salesperson. Try and ask questions which cover these three topics:
• Need for achievement
• Competitiveness
• Level of optimism
Some examples of sales interview questions which provide examples of candidates’ level of drive are below.

5. Failing to listen
This point is more around making sure the number of questions you ask isn’t too expansive. You have limited time, and the pressures of KPIs to think about, so your interviewing process needs to be effective, yet streamlined. Give the candidate plenty of time to talk and make sure you have sufficient time to listen and build up a true picture of the future face of your company…

Sales Interview Questions You Should Ask

Avoid making the mistakes above by asking questions that give you the answers you need to know. We’ve learnt that we need them to understand the role, be driven, confident and experienced. Here are 10 interview question ideas that you should include in your next sales interview:

Assess their understanding of the role…
1. If you were hired for this position, what would you do in your first month?
2. If you get this job, what would you need from the company, manager and your team to be successful?

Avoid hypothetical with questions like…
3. Describe a time when you were faced with a difficult prospect. How did you handle them to eventually win the sale?
4. In your last position, how did you split your time between cultivating customer relationships and hunting new prospects?

Keep it conversational…
5. I would love to hear about what you would like to achieve here
6. What made you want to get into sales?
7. How do you keep a smile on your face during a hard day?

How driven are they?
8. What kind of sacrifices have you had to make to be successful?
9. What accomplishments in life are the most important to you?
10. If you started a company tomorrow, what would it be?

Building a Sales Team? Monitor Their Success with sales-i

A conversational and focussed interview is the best way to find sales reps that truly meet the requirements of your business. Once your interview process is complete, help your team prosper with sales-i’s sales performance software. With knowledge and insights at their fingertips, your chosen candidates will have the tools they need to manage their prospects, build meaningful relationships and close more deals.

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