Are you a sales professional looking for a sales job? In this article, we will walk you through the most common questions asked to sales professionals during a job interview. We will also preview the answers so you can apprehend the interview in your best light.
Let’s dive in!
1. Can You Introduce yourself?
Some interviews will start with this question. Your objective is to set the tone for the rest of the interview.
Whenever you are asked to introduce yourself, do not go over 3 minutes mark. You must know in advance how to effectively present yourself and highlight the key points of your experience.
Use the following methodology
- Your name and where you come from
- Your educational background (be brief)
- What lead you to pursue a career in sales (highlight your motivators)
- Main items of your responsibilities on your previous jobs (3 key points maximum + 1 achievement)!
- End with why are you applying for the job
The closing of the introduction is very important. Your objective is to make the interviewer feel that your application to the role is only obvious because your previous choices are consistent.
2. Why did you apply here?
Line managers want to know if you have made some research about the company. As a sales executive, you will be required to perform market studies and analysis of the competitive landscape. In addition, good sales representatives must come prepared for each of their sales meetings. Line managers want to know if you have developed the habit of performing research about the company, as well as the job you are applying for.
In addition, they need to know if you are able to display a good level of enthusiasm about the role. Being enthusiastic implies that you possess a go-getter mindset and that you will overcome barriers and frustrations when times get tough.
To answer this question, you may highlight what you appreciate the most in the company. It could be the quality of their products and services or their unique company culture. You may highlight what exactly you like in their solution and detail why would want to sell their offering. If you bring the core values of the company, tell them what they mean to you, and explain how would the company culture would help you become a better sales professional.
To succeed in this first question, you must show you have performed your research.
3. Why Should We Hire You?
Even if this question is very recurring, many candidates fall short on this one. The line manager wants to know if you are able to present yourself in your best light, and test your selling skills.
The best way to answer this question is to link your arguments with the requirements of the role (using the job description). Provide factual information to make them believe what you say. For example, if the job description mentions somehow who is able to develop a network of top decision-makers, highlight the situations that you have faced in this situation or experiences that you have successfully accomplished.
On top of this, you should add something personal about yourself. Highlight one of your character traits that stands out and that makes you a better salesperson. So ask yourself: what are the unique qualities that I possess? What are the qualities that your close ones are using to describe you?
This trait should be unique to you and you should be able to detail it with a practical experience or situation.
If you are able to restitute a short and compelling story about you this personality trait help you become a better sales person, you will score even more points.
Always remember this: if you advance a quality or a personality trait that you have, you should always come up with an example. That is what will make you earn the trust of the interviewer.
4. Why choose Sales?
This question is especially valid for professionals with 0-5 years of experience in a sales role. The hiring manager wants to understand if you have made a conscious career decision about your sales career. Many candidates are not able to explain why they are “made” for certain types of roles. Although you may not work in the same field all your life, the line manager wants to have the guarantee that you will not change your mind from one day to another and leave the company for another field.
In their eyes, they will be more likely to invest their time and energy in training you if you are convinced sales is the right field for you.
To answer the question be honest. I thought a long time about what type of role I needed. I have a passion for sales because to me this is the only field where I can evaluate the direct impact of my role. I like to be able to perform tangible things that I am able to measure such as…. I knew Sales was my preferred field from the moment I did…
Do not hesitate to be specific and professional. Being able to tell stories will make your point even more valid. Just like in a sales meeting with a customer, you should be able to get the buy-in using both factual arguments and emotions.
You will leave a positive impression behind you,
5. Tell Me About One Time You have faced a setback — How Did You React and what did you learn?
A key to succeeding in a sales role is to deal with rejection and be able to handle setbacks. So how do you handle these situations?
The best way to answer this question is to share an anecdote where you have displayed a good level of resilience. In case your experience as a sales executive is limited, highlight an example from your personal life that could be transposed into a work situation.
Here is the most important part: diagnose the reason for failure, this is what the hiring manager wants to know about you. Are you able to learn from your mistakes? What are the key takeaways from this experience?
All sales professionals have failed at least once in a negotiation, or in the evaluation of a sales opportunity. To complete your point, describe what are the mechanisms that you are implementing now to prevent such a situation to occur again.
6. Give me more details about (Resume section).
Sometimes hiring managers want you to elaborate on some section of your resume, so they’ll ask this question. Usually, it will either be something that’s foreign to them, such as my water department summer job, or some sales experience they want to hear more about.
The best way to prepare for this question is to go over each job and experience on your resume and practice expanding on it. That way, you’ll be ready to go when they ask this question.
Before / and During the interview, the interviewer will get a closer look at your resume. The odds are, he might be intrigued, or interested in some specific areas of your background and experience. Line managers will look at commonalities between your profile and the requirements of the job, so be prepared!
For each experience that you have listed in your resume, be able to extract :
- The top 3 main responsibilities that you were in charge of: do not overwhelm the interviewer with details, the most important key points only.
- One sales-related achievement you have successfully reached ie (developing the network by x%, increasing turnover by x%, over-achievement of budget objectives that were set to you by x%).
When you highlight the key responsibilities that you were responsible for, and ensure they are linked to the job description that you applied for, you will definitely score more points during the interview.
7. What Do You Know About the Sales Executive role?
This is a test to see if you read the job description and know what you’re signing up for. It should be an easy question to answer, as long as you have carefully studied the job description.
Pre-requisite: highlight the most important items in the job description that are the most interesting to you. Beyond the not forget to go through the skills and personality requirements for the role.
When you answer, you should highlight the main requirements of their role, so that the hiring managers knows you have carefully read the job description + the personality attributes required for the job.
8. How do You generate Interest with prospects?
Your hiring manager will want to ensure that you approach customers in a way that is engaging and structured.
How would you book a meeting with a customer? To answer this question, first, explain what is your cold outreach strategy. How do you do to reach out to prospects, using emailing, cold calling, and social media approaches? Show you have a proven technique to get your prospect’s attention.
Do not forget to highlight an example of a successful approach you have made in the past. If you have no sales experience, you can share the knowledge you have gathered to approach customers. You will score additional points if you have performed training or read books on the topics.
if you follow this approach, the hiring manager will trust you are the best fit to join the organization.
Preparation is key. Before you jump into the interview, make sure you have made some research about the organization and read carefully the job description. Keep the main requirements in mind (Including the skills and personality attributes required for the job) !
Write the key points of your background, experience, and motivations somewhere, so you are prepared whenever the interviewer asks any clarification questions to you.
Apprehend the interview with a positive attitude! Be polite and display an engaging positive attitude throughout the interview, despite the stress you may feel.
Last but not least, be ready for the “small talk” with the Hiring manager. There might be occasions to engage with the interviewer when you first meet. Ensure that you are able to engage in a friendly conversation, talking about your passion, hobbies or any interest that you may share in common with the line manager.
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