Sales Interviews are just a little bit Different

Just a little bit though. Sales Interviews follow the same pattern as every other interview. The trick though is that Sales Professionals practice for interviews every day of their career. A Discovery Call in a traditional sales process is eerily similar to a traditional job interview.  

The fundamentals are the same, but the roles are reversed. In a Discovery Call, the Sales professional leads the meeting. In a Job Interview, the Sales Manager leads the interview, and the Sales professional is the Interviewee. The trick to a good Sales Interview is to maintain control of the meeting while allowing the Sales professional to share their information. A good Sales professional, however, will work to hijack the meeting. Soon enough, they’ll be interviewing you and, at the end of the meeting, you’ll like them because they’ve been listening to you and have been demonstrating good sales qualities, like asking good questions. But, can they actually do the job? You don’t know because you didn’t actually ask any of your questions.  

If you have found your interview being hijacked, try these conversation interrupts to take control back: 

  1. I really want to answer all of your questions and we’ll have time at the end of our conversation to get to more of them. Right now, though, I want to learn more about your fit within our team.  
  2. I appreciate your excitement about the role and the company but I want to be sure we get through some of the core pieces of the role so I can be fair to all our candidates and ensure we’re finding the right candidate for our team. 
  3. I can see that you are really good in a Sales meeting. If it’s ok though, I have a few questions I want to make sure we get through too.  

Once you have control of the meeting either by taking it back or by gaining it early after setting expectations (just like you do in a Discovery meeting Introduction) the Body of your Interview should really dive into the core selling requirements of your role. You’ll want to dive into the areas that make sense for your particular role but below are some general questions to get you started. Make sure you ask every candidate the same (or very similar) questions so you can compare the Good, Better, and Best candidates rather than just focusing on Qualified or Not Qualified.  

Additionally, watch for bias creeping into your thinking. Did you go to the same college, sell for the same organization in your past, or have kids who play the same sport? None of those things qualify someone for your role. Hard job criteria will. You’ll learn about that by following a script – the same way you qualify a customer in your Discovery call. Prepare and follow the process, even if it seems kinda boring. Those reps pay off!  

Tried & True Sales Interview Questions: 

  • Tell me about your research process for a new prospect before and after an appointment you recently set. 
  • Which CRMs are you most familiar with and how did you use them within your sales process? 
  • What do you do to keep your sales skills sharp? 
  • Describe a situation where you used internal influence to get a win for your customer. 
  • Tell me about a closed opportunity that you were really proud of. Follow-up: Why do you think they bought from you? 
  • What is your favorite/least favorite part about Sales? 
  • What are your compensation expectations for a full year? What about base compensation expectations for this role? 
  • When you think about an amazing earning year, what would that look like for you? 
  • Funnel Breakdown (Use a series of questions to break down a funnel – do more than one role if applicable and time permits & stay curious) 
  • What was your quota in your last role? How were you performing against it? 
  • What was your average sales size? 
  • Was there a split among new and renewal business? What did that look like in terms of your time invested? 
  • How many new deals would you say you were bringing in on a monthly basis? 
  • What was your closing ratio? 
  • So, about how many appointments would it take to get to those closed opportunities? 
  • Did you have activity quotas in addition to your revenue numbers?  
  • If so, what were they & how were you performing against them? 
  • If not, what goals did you set for yourself to ensure you could meet your targets? 

(As you break down the funnel numbers, pay attention to whether the numbers add up. Does the funnel work or are they inflating it? When you ask for specifics, someone who is inflating will often not be able to break down every step of the way without a mistake) 

While Sales Interviews are a bit different, one thing is the same: they are predictable. You can use the same set of questions for most of them with limited variation based on the level of position and candidate experience. Sales candidates LOVE to sell themselves. Let them. Just be sure they are selling themselves on the criteria that you need and want to learn about.  

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