The 30 Best Sales Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring Salespeople

David Gargaro

The interview is a key step in the sales recruitment process. 

It enables you to speak face to face (either in person or by video) to determine an applicant’s fit with your organization. Personality and culture fit are important when hiring someone new.

The interview allows you to evaluate their skills, thought processes, and responses as they relate to sales. The goal is to identify whether they are good at selling, can handle objections and rejection, and know how to deal with different prospects and situations.

To follow are 30 of the best sales interview questions to ask when hiring salespeople for your organization.

1. What is your research process before meeting prospects? 

The applicant should use LinkedIn, social media, corporate websites, and other resources to collect personal and professional information. They should also look for ways to tailor their approach using the information they found. 

2. Which questions have been most effective when dealing with or evaluating prospects?

Experienced salespeople should have spent more time asking questions than pitching clients. The applicant should ask open-ended questions to collect information on a prospect's needs.

3. How do you typically handle a prospect’s objections?

The applicant should explain their process of handling objections. If they cannot do so, then they’re probably unprepared or unpracticed in this part of their job.

4. How have you dealt with a difficult prospect and managed to land the sale?

The applicant should be able to explain the situation, why it was difficult, how they handled it, and the results of what they did to close the deal.

5. What is your approach to building a relationship with a prospect?

You want to determine what the applicant does to build and manage relationships with prospects. Identify good and bad habits to determine whether they are a fit.

6. In your previous position, what percentage of time did you spend searching for new clients versus developing existing customer relationships?

The goal is to determine whether the applicant has more experience in one part of sales over another. Ideally, they should have equivalent experience in both areas.

7. How do you stay current on trends in your target market?

You want to determine whether the applicant reads articles, blog posts, trade publications, and other industry content. Follow up by asking them to summarize or discuss what they’ve recently learned or read.

8. Explain an idea, concept or topic of interest.

Your goal is to test the applicant’s ability to explain a topic. Ask follow-up questions to evaluate their knowledge and ability to elaborate.

9. How do you integrate social media into your sales process?

The applicant should be able to explain how they use social selling and social media to look for prospects or research leads, or are willing to learn to do so.

Chili Piper’s Instant Booker seamlessly integrates with your marketing and sales automation software, including social media tools, making it easy to book meetings with prospects. Below are some examples of such integrations.

10. What’s your starting plan should you be hired?

The applicant should have an idea of how they will familiarize themselves with the organization and your customers, as well as how they plan to research and contact prospects.

11. What would you improve about our company or sales team?

Determine whether the applicant did research on your company, as well as their ability to problem solve and think creatively.

12. Tell me how you landed your biggest or most successful sale.

Real-world examples are ideal for seeing how an applicant accomplished a goal. They should be able to walk you through what they went through to close the deal.

13. Tell me about a new technology or skill you learned.

The goal is to identify whether the applicant is open to learning and expanding their skills and abilities. You also want to evaluate their ability to explain what they learned and how they did it.

14. How does your approach differ between long and short sales cycles?

The applicant should be able to explain the different approaches to these sales cycles (e.g., long sales cycles require a more patient approach, short sales cycles require quicker closings).

15. Describe how you followed up with prospects when you did not make the sale to determine why.

The applicant should understand that following up on a failed deal will help them to improve on future deals. Following up shows their willingness to learn and improve.

16. If you’ve ever turned down a prospect, why did you do so?

The applicant should be able to explain that you should not spend time on prospects who are not ideal for your product or service, or that you cannot help.

17. How many times do you try selling to a client before giving up?

The applicant should show that they are persistent in selling to a prospect — reaching out between six and ten times would be a good answer.

Chili Piper’s Instant Booker enables you to create leads, contacts, events, and opportunities into Salesforce, as well as track no shows, reschedules, and meeting details to better manage your pipeline.

18. How would you sell me X?

The goal is to see their thought process. You want to see if they ask qualifying questions to learn about your motivations before trying to pitch what they are selling.

19. How would you describe your sales process?

The applicant should be able to explain the steps in the sales process to show they understand how it works, can organize their thoughts, and be able to explain difficult ideas.

20. How would you try to achieve a monthly quota if you were behind pace halfway into the month?

The purpose is to evaluate the applicant’s problem-solving skills. Ideally, they’ve been in this situation, so you want to see how they have overcome adversity.

21. Suppose you were contacting a prospect by phone and they did not answer. What would you say in the voicemail?

Most salespeople have to deal with leaving voicemail messages. This will help you evaluate how the applicant deals with this situation and how they might encourage the prospect to return the call.

22. What motivates you as a salesperson?

The applicant could provide a number answers (e.g., achievement, money, helping people). Their answer will determine whether they are a fit for your sales team and your culture.

23. Why did you want to become a salesperson?

The applicant’s answer will determine their reasons for getting into sales. If their motivation is not a good fit for your culture, this will help you to disqualify them for the position.

24. What do you think about learning as part of the sales process?

They should be willing to learn as part of their growth. If the applicant is not comfortable with this question or cannot answer it, it will indicate they are not interested in learning.

25. What do you dislike about the sales process in general?

This question will help to determine if the applicant is a good fit as a salesperson. It can also help to evaluate how they make something more enjoyable in their job.

26. What do you look for in a sales manager?

This question will tell you about how the applicant approaches the work environment and their work relationships. The desired qualities they mention should mesh with your sales manager.

27. What is your most important accomplishment?

This answer will describe what motivates the applicant and what they value. The quality of the accomplishment will help determine their fit and character.

28. What would you describe as your core values?

The goal is to determine how the applicant describes their core values, as well as the quality of their character. This will help to evaluate their fit with your culture.

29. What are your career goals?

You want to determine if you can meet the applicant’s career goals. If you cannot satisfy their career aspirations, they might not be a good fit for your organization.

30. Who do you prefer selling to, and why do you feel this way?

If the applicant described an ideal buyer, they have a good understanding of the target market. If they mention a demographic, they might not be a good fit or might be too limited in their sales approach.

About the author
David Gargaro

Freelance content writer & copy editor | I help businesses gain more attention by writing better stories | Articles | Blog posts | Case studies | Website content | Marketing materials

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