One of the questions salespeople — and other interviewees — are likely to get asked during a job interview is about how past employers perceived the applicant's work style and aptitude. Interviewers will be looking to get a sense of your qualities as an employee and a salesperson. Also, this question will also help them see your awareness of how others see you. For people in sales, grasping how others perceive you is a key skill.
Interviewing for a sales position can be especially challenging because you have to convince someone that you can sell their product (or service) while at the same time selling yourself as the best candidate for the job.
As a salesperson, it doesn't matter what you're selling. You'll hear similarly themed interview questions whether you're selling a cloud-based service, shoes at a mall shop, office furniture, or any other item or service.
Examples of the Best Answers
Here are sample answers to help you answer the interview question, "How would your current supervisor or a former supervisor describe you?" Use these responses for inspiration when thinking through your response.
- She would describe me as a person who leaves no loose ends. I have often been complimented on my attention to detail.
- My former supervisor would say that I work well in a team environment, as well as being an independent thinker who enjoys working on their own when the need arises. For instance, when I was employed at XYZ company, it was important to keep all the team members informed about the current upgrades and price changes on all products because we worked collaboratively on most sales endeavors. Instead of being put off by this, I found it to be an interesting environment that was challenging but also enjoyable.
- He would describe me as a self-starter. At XYZ company, we were responsible for our sales beginning with the first initial contact to closing the deal. I worked independently about 90 percent of the time. There were some experienced salespeople who had a difficult time with the lack of support, but I found it satisfying to have that kind of autonomy because I found I could be more efficient working on my own.
One nice thing about getting questions about how your supervisor would describe you is that it gives you an opportunity to talk about yourself in a positive way.
Tips for Answering Sales Interview Questions
Every response you give to interview questions should include concrete examples of your sales achievements. It's important to be clear and specific about how you can help the company grow sales and increase revenues. Be sure to include numbers to back up statements you make.
For example, you might say, "At XYZ company, I was responsible for bringing in the ABC account and signing a contract that resulted in XX profit over the XYZ period. I managed to accomplish this in only XX months with little help from my colleagues."
Along with including specific, quantifiable details, it's also a good idea to emphasize skills and talents that the job you are currently interviewing will particularly appreciate.
Do be honest in your response. Keep in mind that it's always possible the company you're interviewing with will speak to your supervisor during a reference check. That said, if you have a bad relationship with your supervisor, now is not the time to mention it. And, no need to point out flaws. Focus on the positive in your response. Remember, you're selling yourself as a candidate here.
If you have difficulty envisioning what your manager would say about you, try thinking back to your most recent performance review. What were some of the positives mentioned then?
Sales Job Interview Tips
Before you head out to your next interview, review these sales job interview tips so you can convincingly sell your most important product - yourself - to an employer who is well-versed in sales strategies, and will recognize a good salesperson when they see one.