November 14, 2017

Top Questions to Ask Sales Candidates in an Intervew

Interviewing candidates for sales positions within your company is one of the most important things you will do as a sales VP.

It is also one of the most challenging things you will do.

There is much more to the sales hiring process than a simple resume/cover letter review and basic interview.

Establishing a successful hiring process is going to make or break your position as sales VP, and your company.

After all, your salespeople play a vital role in determining the amount of sales your company is able to do, and if your sales reps are a far cry from top-notch, then it is all downhill from there.

So, how do you ensure that your sales team is going to bring you and your company the success you are after?

Conducting a thorough behavioral interview is an important part of the process.


Common Mistakes to Avoid When Interviewing Sales Candidates

Sales Interview Question Mistakes to Avoid

We have discussed in the past what not to do in an interview with a potential salesperson.

The top no-no’s include:

  • Not clarifying job requirements and responsibilities
  • Asking the candidate hypothetical situation questions (such as “If you were in X situation, how would you handle it?”)
  • Treating the interview too much like an interview, and not enough like a conversation
  • Not determining whether your candidate has Drive
  • Failing to truly listen to the candidate

Keeping these things in the front of your mind during the interview is going to keep you from making some major hiring mistakes that will come back and bite you down the line.


The 4 Savvy Interview Questions to Ask All-Star Sales Candidates

You have spent hours weeding through resumes, cover letters, references, assessment results − the works − for a number of sales candidates.

You have pared your list down to a handful of superstar candidates and now comes the time to prepare for the interview.

With such fabulous candidates on your docket, it can feel a bit overwhelming to ensure that the interviews go without a hitch, that the candidates are all you ever wanted and more and that they feel the same way about you and your company.

The key to preparing for sales interviews with such first-rate candidates is to ensure you have the right questions on hand to ask them.

By crafting your interview questions in the right way, you will be able to successfully bring these superstar candidates into your company as employees, and allow everyone to reap the benefits.


1. What is your idea of an ideal work culture?

Sales Interview Questions Should Ask about Candidate's Idea of a Perfect Work Culture

According to a State of the American Workplace Report, 70% of workers in the United States are unhappy with their jobs.

As you know, the job of a salesperson often involves spending a great deal of time on the phone and emailing, leaving your sales reps lacking the incorporation of much person-to-person interaction.

This often leads salespeople to feel somewhat disconnected from their colleagues and gives them reason to be displeased with their job.

In order to avoid putting your salespeople in this position, it is important that you strive to create a workplace that brings them some happiness.

And, creating this pleasant company culture is something that stands to benefit you immensely when it comes to interviewing new potential salespeople.

During the sales interview, be sure to ask your candidates what their ideal company culture is like.

If their responses are not already implemented in your company, but you feel they would be beneficial, you may want to start thinking about how you could start implementing them.

Here are some tactics to use in creating an environment for your current and future salespeople to enjoy and thus, thrive in:

  • Make the company mission clear
  • Establish the value of the individual candidate to the company’s overall goals
  • Highlight benefits of the company online and in job advertisements
  • Promote creativity and innovation with your employees
  • Ensure the culture is 100% authentic
  • Cater your management structure to each individual employee so they feel like a person, rather than just a number



2. What style of sales coaching benefits you the most?

As stated above, it is crucial to cater your managing structure and styles to each individual salesperson.

Some will want to be in regular communication and receive input from you on a constant basis.

Others, however, may do their best work if they are left alone.

To help these all-star candidates become top-tier salespeople, ensure that you have a full grasp on and understanding of how you can help them achieve their goals.


3. What are your career path goals at this company?

Sales Interview Questions Should Include Asking about Their Career Paths

In order to keep your premium salespeople in your company for as long as possible, it is vital that you ask them what their goals are in terms of a career path.

Do they hope to move up to a sales manager position in the next few years? 

Are they not interested at all in moving up to a different position and only interested in increasing their sales earnings?

The candidates’ answers to this question will allow you to know what it will take to keep them happy working for your company.

If you are not helping them work towards their long-term goals, they may end up moving to a company who is willing to do that.


4. Which tasks do you hope to delegate, in order for you to focus and succeed on sales?

There is no denying that being a salesperson involves much more than making calls and sales.

Paperwork, follow-up, data entry, account management and more are major pieces to a salesperson’s position.

However, if your top-notch sales candidates are looking to become superstar salespeople within your company, they will want to be able to focus their attention on what will provide them with the greatest ROI.

Thus, they are likely going to need some help and resources in order to maximize their time.

Knowing what tasks these candidates would love handing off to someone else will guide you in knowing what tools and resources to provide them with to accommodate their needs and reach (and hopefully exceed) their sales goals, and yours as well.



Making the most of your interview with superstar sales candidates will help you in building a sales team that will bring you and your company great success.

By asking the right questions, and truly listening to the answers, chances are good you will find yourself building a stellar sales team that ensures a bright future for your salespeople, yourself and your company.