Before you apply to a sales job, make sure you're prepared to answer these common sales job interview questions.

Each year, more sales professionals lose potential employment opportunities for one reason over any other: They are ill-prepared for the interview.  

As a sales candidate, chances are that you have great ideas and a clear vision. Unfortunately, if you can't convey that vision in a simple, direct, and concise manner during the job interview, a hiring manager won't perceive you as credible. 

To ensure you come across in the best light possible during your interview, preparation is nothing short of imperative — especially when it comes to common interview questions for a sales position.

Whether it be for an entry-level position or a director of sales role, readiness can — and will — make or break an interview; it can be the differentiator between a lucrative job offer or a potentially embarrassing meeting.

It's a lack of proper preparation

Often, when an interview performance is not up to snuff, it is not a result of lack of preparation, but rather a result of the wrong preparation.

Frequently, sales applicants will inaccurately predict the sales job interview questions that will be asked during the job interview, rendering their research a waste of time. However, when you can anticipate what will be asked, you possess a great advantage. 

Aside from increased confidence and focus, knowing what an interviewer will ask enables you to prepare answers in a manner that both highlights your strengths and remains relevant to the needs of the hiring manager.

Because knowing what to prepare for is as important as preparing itself, we have listed 50 questions every sales professional should be prepared to answer during an interview.

Answering the sales job interview questions that matter

It is highly difficult to predict the exact questions a recruiter or interviewer will ask during an interview; however, if they are thorough and understand business development, job seekers can anticipate that they will be asked some form of the following 50 sales job interview questions:  

Sales experience

  1. What did you sell?

Sample Answer: I sold software to B2B businesses. The software was designed to help them stay organized during meetings and reduce inefficiencies. It's a great piece of technology that I firmly believe in and was excited to introduce to those who could benefit from it. 

  1. What was the average dollar amount per sale?

  2. How did you find your prospects?

  3. What was your quota? Did you meet or exceed your quota in the past few quarters? Why or why not?

  4. What was the average length of a sales cycle (the length of time it takes to close a contract from initial correspondence with a lead)?

  5. Who were your primary contacts within an organization? Who or what division would you sell that product to within that company?

  6. What industries do you have experience selling into?

  7. What formal sales training do you have?

  8. How would you describe your sales style?

  9. What, if any, assistance did you have during the sales cycle? (e.g. Sometimes technical-related sales will have sales engineers assist with the closing due to its complexity)

  10. Was the selling done face to face, by phone, or a combination of the two?

  11. How much travel was required in order to meet your goals?

  12. Have you ever lost a customer? If so, how did you handle it?

Sample Answer: Yes. I've lost customers many times throughout my career. Every time I'd lose one, I'd thank them, ask for their permission to check-in, and spend some time trying to replace them. Losing customers is hard, but it's typical in sales so I accept my losses and move on. 

  1. Have you ever managed a sales team?

  2. What was your key takeaway from a sales deal that failed?

Sales knowledge and strategy

  1. Sell me this pen.

Sample Answer: This pen is not a typical pen you may find at an office supply store. It comes with an eraser so you can easily get rid of any mistakes that you make while you use it. In addition, it features various ink colors including red, black, and red ink to meet different needs. 

  1. What makes you a strong salesperson?

  2. What are the top qualities of a salesperson, in your opinion?

  3. What do you do when sales are down?

  4. Do you use social media to meet sales goals? How so?

  5. What hurdles did you often encounter during the sales process and what strategies did you employ to overcome those obstacles?

  6. How do you stay up to date on your target market?

Sample Answer: I check out social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get an idea of what my target market is talking about. I also read relevant blogs and trade publications that pertain to them and their needs and interests. 

  1. Describe a typical sales call.

  2. What is an example of a creative way you closed a sale?

  3. How do you make sure your sales skills are up to date?

  4. What is your process for negotiating with a customer?

  5. Are you currently reading a sales-related book? If so, which one?

Prospect strategy 

  1. What do you do to establish trust with prospects?

  2. What questions do you ask prospects to better understand their needs?

  3. How do you overcome “just checking in” syndrome?

Sample Answer: Instead of countless “just checking in” emails or phone calls, I try to provide prospects with value while reminding them of my company and offerings. To do so, I may invite them to a webinar, share an industry-relevant article, or send actionable advice. 

  1. How do you deal with rejections from prospects?

  2. How do you approach cold outreach?

  3. How do you build rapport with a prospect?

  4. How long do you typically pursue a prospect?

  5. What is your follow-up system with prospects?

  6. How do you deal with angry prospects?

Sample Answer: I take their frustration seriously rather than personally. I let them know that I understand where they're coming from and provide solutions to their objections and concerns. I've found that this strategy is far more effective than getting upset and defensive. 

Personality/motivation 

  1. What do you enjoy most about sales?

Sample Answer: I am passionate about sales because it's challenging and keeps me on my feet. I like that every day is different and no two prospects are exactly alike. I get excited about the idea of meeting (or even exceeding) quotas and helping a company succeed. 

  1. What is your least favorite part of the sales process?

  2. Is money a major motivator for you?

  3. What is your least favorite part of sales?

  4. How comfortable are you working with a team of sales professionals?

  5. What type of compensation structure motivates you most?

  6. How do you keep yourself motivated after getting rejected?

Sample Answer: I remind myself that it's impossible to land every prospect and close every deal. If this weren't the case, everyone would be in sales. When I get rejected, I don't take it personally and move on to the next opportunity. I tell myself that the next call or meeting I have may very well lead to success. 

  1. When did you first realize sales was for you?

  2. What is the best sales advice you've ever received?

Sales position in question

  1. How familiar are you with our products, and why do you feel you can sell them?

Sample Answer: I've spent a lot of time researching your candles. I love that they are safe for kids and seniors due to their flameless, dripless, and odorless nature. I see the significant value they offer and feel comfortable selling to your target audience as I have done so in the past. 

  1. What do you believe is our company's unique selling proposition?

  2. How would you describe our product or service in one sentence?

  3. How do you plan to exceed expectations if you're hired?

  4. Do you have any questions for us?

Sample Answer: Yes! I have a few questions. How would you describe your company culture? What do managers do to help sales representatives?

In the end

The overwhelming majority of sales interviews are either won or lost prior to the meeting. Knowing how to prepare and what to focus on will lay the ground for a winning job search.

Not sure if you're ready for your sales interview? It might be time to contact a professional. Learn more about our interview coaching services today! This article was originally published on our sister site, TopResume. It has been republished with permission.

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