How to Answer the 10 Most Common Sales Interview Questions
Job interviews are never a tiptoe through the tulips. Most of us would rather have a tooth pulled. Interviews for sales positions have an extra edge in that if you can’t sell yourself, you probably can’t sell the company’s products either.
Take heart. You’re a salesperson after all! Add a solid amount of preparation and you should come out smelling like a rose—or a tulip. As you prepare, be ready to answer some of these common sales interview questions. And since a little extra help can go a long way, get mock interview services and objective feedback from employment professionals.
1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Whether or not the interviewer actually says “a little” in this question, your best bet is to keep it down to a few trenchant points. Spend maybe a third of your response giving some personal information, and then tie things up with some key items from your professional experience. This could be something like, “I grew up loving the outdoors and participating in sports. That passion came into play when I was in sporting goods sales. When I started at XYZ in 2012, I set a first-year sales record and increased my volume by three to five percent every year for the next three years.”
2. Do you know much about our company?
How you reply to this sales interview question gives the interviewer a feeling for your level of interest. Before the interview, search the internet to learn everything you can about the company. Check out the company’s website and social media posts. Read reviews of the company from customers and previous employees. That way, when you respond to this sales interview question, you can tie something in with your experience and aspirations if possible.
3. What kind of sales experience do you have?
Avoid giving a line-by-line recitation of your resume. The interviewer has already seen it; otherwise, you wouldn’t be sitting there. Your response needs to be relevant and enhance your job history. Talk about your successes with each position, why you moved on, and how you’ve grown with each position.
4. Why did you apply for this particular position?
This common sales interview question is an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you’re ready to move to another level. Because you’ve done your research on the company, you can frame your response in line with what you know. Be specific and go beyond talking about what a successful company this is and how well it pays. If you honestly believe in the company’s mission and vision, you can talk about how your experience and your sales philosophy align with the company’s values.
5. What do you consider your best accomplishments as a sales rep?
It’s not bragging if it’s true. If you worked diligently for weeks and landed a million-dollar sales contract, by all means provide some brief details about that. If your career is still developing, talk about how you made incremental increases in a previous position. In any case, make sure you provide specifics about previous accomplishments. If you have limited sales experience and this is an entry-level position, relate some college classes, campus jobs, or internships to the position.
6. How do you handle rejection?
In other words, the interviewer wants to know how you recharge your batteries and keep going after a dry spell or a particularly bad day. You might provide an example of when you were sure you were going to close a sale, but at the last minute the client pulled out of the deal. You could say something like, “I went back to the office, looked at my sales for the past three months and reminded myself there are going to be many more good days ahead.” Also talk about anything you learned from the experience and put to positive use later.
7. What kind of working environment do you prefer?
Again, for this interview question think about what you know about the company and frame your response accordingly—but honestly. With the company you’re interviewing with, there might be a fine line between teamwork and independent sales. If you’re in the latter category, you could respond with, “I’m self-motivated, so I’m quite comfortable working on my own. But I also like to share ideas and camaraderie with the sales team.” Be proactive by asking the interviewer more about the company’s work environment.
8. How do you generate sales leads and then close them?
A sales interview question like this could come as several inquiries about your sales technique. You could start by talking about how you build rapport with potential clients and continue to build relationships. Be specific and provide examples of your sales method, from starting the sale to closing it and then following-up with the customer.
9. What are your long-term career goals?
You’re motivated for continued growth. The company you’re interviewing with is looking for continued growth. Talk about your career goals in terms that are realistic and achievable. Show that you have clearly thought through your personal goals and the steps you’ve taken so far to achieve them. You might also mention how you’ve learned from past mistakes, emphasizing that you never plan to stop learning new ways of conducting business.
10. Do you have any questions for me?
This sales interview question is a great chance for you to finish on a high note. One good response is, “Could you tell me how someone might exceed expectations in a sales role with your company?” If you feel the time is right (and using your best sales skills), you might ask when you can set up the next interview.
Sales interviews can take a number of twists and turns, but strong preparation should make you ready for almost anything. Just like a sales call, a job interview affords you limited time to make a good first impression. We hope these most common sales questions can help you prepare for the next step on your career journey. And for an extra edge, check out our career-coaching service—because a little investment can pay big dividends.