Top 5 Questions to Ask in a Sales Interview

1 Minutes

When it comes to building a successful sales team, there’s nothing more important than the p...

By Pareto Team


When it comes to building a successful sales team, there’s nothing more important than the people who work within it. Sales is a career where success is forged by building relationships, being knowledgeable and being able to close deals, so when it comes to recruitment for such positions, you need to be able to uncover people who bring the right skills, mindset and appetite for success to the table.


Recruiting salespeople is different to recruiting for other roles, largely because you’re looking for very specific skillsets and values. You need driven, experienced hires who have what it takes, which is why the interview stage is such a crucial one. Asking the right sales interview questions can be the difference between finding a sales recruit who was better on paper and discovering that dream hire who has a tangible, immediate and long-lasting impact, bringing in clients and driving up profits.


At Pareto, we are sales industry market leaders and experts in recruitment, with over 20 years of success and more than 27,000 candidates placed successfully into sales roles in over 100 industries across the globe. We’ve put together a list of a few of the most important questions to ask in sales interviews, helping you uncover talent and find the ideal hire for your business.



1. What was your most successful sales?

If you’re looking for a top sales candidate, you want someone with a proven track record, so try to find out where your potential hire has found success in the past. Ask them to walk you through the processes they used, from initial contact to closing, and where they feel they made a tangible difference to the result.


This question allows you to immediately see what skills your candidate has, highlighting their communication skills, their ability to close, flexibility and, perhaps most crucially, their ability to sell a product or service and its features and benefits.


An interviewee’s response to this question also demonstrates how they effectively strategise. If they give a positive, detailed answer that comes across as considered and impactful, it indicates they could be a hire that hits the ground running for your business.



2. How do you build effective customer relationships?

Soft skills such as communication are among the most important for sales people. As a recruiter, you need to know that anyone you bring into the team has the ability to communicate effectively with potential clients, from the first time they talk to them all the way through to when a deal is sealed.


One of the most effective ways to gauge their skills in this area is to probe into one of the most difficult aspects of client communication – building the initial relationship. Ask them what key questions they ask to qualify a lead, for example, or how they utilise small talk in their calls or emails to build that all-important rapport with the potential client.



3. How do you approach selling new products or services

No one is an expert on everything – but you need your sales people to be exactly that. Whatever your business is selling, you need sales staff who are able to effectively extol its virtues and benefits to a client, succinctly putting across what your product is and how it will benefit them specifically.


The ability to do this well is rooted in a deep product knowledge. And while your hires are unlikely to be experts from the off, it’s important to determine how they make it their goal to become one. Extensive product research, speaking to those behind the manufacturing and finding out where it sits in the market are all vitally important tactics that you want to see your potential hires showing.



4. What areas do you hope to develop in this role?

This is perhaps one of the most important sales interview questions to ask. While you naturally want to know what strengths candidates have, it’s also important to know where they need to develop. Not only does it let you see if they’re the right fit for your role, it also allows you to pinpoint where they might need training in the future.


This means that not only can you decide whether or not you want to bring them on board, but you also get the chance to start planning out your sales training courses with new hires in mind once you’ve made the decision. On top of that, you can also make your business a more attractive place to work by highlighting how much you seek to invest in your sales people and their progression.


Asking where they’d like to improve puts an active and positive spin on the interview process, too, rather than going down the outdated route of what are your weaknesses?



5. What are your long-term career goals?

Investing in your business starts with investing in sales people, and that means you’re going to want people who are committed and in it for the long run. Asking people to map out their long-term future allows you to see if they view sales as a career, as well as letting you define their ambition and drive to succeed, both of which are huge benefits in sales roles.


Asking this question helps you rule out anyone who might simply want the job as a stepping stone and highlights who is worth investing in.


As a bonus, knowing what someone’s career goals look like can help improve your own planning, bringing in people who you see as long-term leaders of your team, further down the line.


Hiring for sales roles is one of the biggest challenges your business will face. Finding the right candidate is crucial to long-term success, so it’s important to ensure you ask the right questions to uncover the perfect sales person. At Pareto, we understand sales recruitment and can help your company find your next sales superstar.

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