When you're interviewing for a sales position, your goal is to sell yourself to the hiring manager. A sales job interview is one of the most challenging interviews there is, since interviewers will have high expectations for your persuasive powers.
During the interview, you'll need to do more than simply respond to questions. Hiring managers will expect you to show that you're an effective salesperson, too. That means showing the interviewer that you've got the sales skills and experience that they are seeking.
You'll need to sell yourself and your qualifications for the job, as well as to show the interviewer that you have the ability to close a deal.
How to Prepare for a Sales Interview
As a sales representative, you're uniquely situated to succeed at an interview. Just think of yourself as the product, and apply the same principles you would use in any sales meeting, demonstrating that you're a good fit and selling yourself to the interviewer.
Arrive at the interview with a sense of the company's sales strategy and some examples of how your previous sales experience has prepared you to contribute.
Typical Questions Asked in a Sales Interview
Ace your sales interview with these helpful strategies for responding to interview questions, along with examples of common sales interview questions and sample answers. Review them to help frame your responses based on your own qualifications, skills, product knowledge, achievements, and sales experiences. In addition, review a list of questions to ask your interviewer.
1. Are you comfortable making cold calls?
What They Want to Know: Cold calls are an essential aspect of sales, so interviewers want to know about your experience. This question also speaks to your personality: Are you outgoing? Can you start a conversation? While this may seem like a yes-or-no question (with the ideal answer being "yes!"), share examples to provide back up.
I am—yes. The results can be unpredictable when you pick up the phone, but I find that doing research on the person and the company can help make this type of call successful. I had great success with this tactic during my time at ABC Company.
2. Have you consistently met your sales goals?
What They Want to Know: The past can predict the future, and interviewers ask this question to get a sense of how you'll perform at their company in terms of meeting sales goals. Be honest in your answer, but focus on the positive.
At XY Tech, I've been one of the top salespeople in the department for the past six quarters. Prior to that, I had one really rough quarter. I was discouraged, but then realized it was an opportunity to re-think my strategy, and it's been really exciting to see those adjustments have such a positive payoff.
More Answers: Interview questions about sales goals.
3. What motivates you?
What They Want to Know: Interviewers want to know what makes you tick. It's a smart idea to connect your response to the company's goals. Financial matters (like a compensation bonus) may be a big motivator, but try to go beyond that in your answer.
Every quarter, I strive to go beyond my quota and compete with my personal best results from previous periods. My goal is always to see growth in my sales records with each new quarter.
More Answers: What motivates you to sell?
4. How did you land your most successful sale?
What They Want to Know: Interviewers want to see that you have a strategy when it comes to closing deals. Share a step-by-step scenario and keep in mind that your answer should showcase your best qualities as a salesperson. (While you want to use this answer to show yourself as a strong sales candidate, avoid bragging!)
My biggest sale (so far) involves selling a five-year contract for XYZ's enterprise software to ABC Automotives. Believe it or not, this deal started with a cold call; in that initial conversation, the customer shared a problem that the enterprise software could solve, and so I was able to target subsequent presentations and interactions in a solution-oriented way. Relationship building was key to closing this deal, as well as to providing targeted demos of the software that spoke to saving the client time and increasing productivity.
More Answers: Questions about your most successful sale.
5. How would your colleagues describe you?
What They Want to Know: As well as revealing your self-perception, this question allows interviewers to get a sense of how you would fit in with the office culture.
My peers at work always mention my persistence. So often, I think sales are lost because of a lack of follow-through. So I'm always determined to have a strategy with scheduled benchmarks when it comes to interacting with prospects—that way, I never miss a potential powerful touch-point moment.
More Answers: How would your colleagues describe your personality?
6. Sell me this pen.
What They Want to Know: This is a classic interview question! Interviewers are looking for a demonstration of your selling tactics. Don't be shy, and take this question seriously.
Even in our tech-focused world, a pen is still essential. What I like about this one is that it has a secure cap so it won't stain pocket interiors or a bag. Plus, it's refined-looking yet still budget friendly.
More Answers: How to answer the "sell me this" interview question.
7. What are your long-term career goals?
What They Want to Know: Employers want to get a sense of your ambitions. They also want to know if you're likely to stick around or whether you might be looking for a new position in a hurry.
I'm eager to work in sales in a mission-driven company such as yours. Long term, I'm always looking to improve my selling skills and, in particular, I'm eager to grow my leadership skills, eventually taking on managerial responsibilities.
More Answers: What are your career goals?
8. What do you know about this company?
What They Want to Know: With this question, interviewers are checking to find out if you did some prep work and whether you have a basic knowledge about the company.
ABC Company is a family-owned business that recently expanded its brick-and-mortar outpost to go online. I think e-commerce is a strong fit and an area where you have a lot of potential for growth. I read a recent Forbes piece on how the board is eager to expand yet still keep the personal, warm atmosphere. That's something I can really appreciate, having come from a family-owned company myself.
More Answers: How to answer interview questions about the company.
9. What interests you most about this sales position?
What They Want to Know: This is another question that tests whether you researched the company in advance of the interview. Your answer will also reveal what motivates you—whether it’s the company culture, the specific product, or other factors.
I'm most impressed by how much of a difference ABC's product can make in parents' lives. I think it's clear that parents will feel safer about their kids if they own this product. To me, it's important to only sell items that I truly believe in myself, items I would recommend to a friend.
More Answers: Why do you want this job?
10. What makes you a good salesperson?
What They Want to Know: Your response will give interviewers a sense of the qualities you think are most important in a salesperson. Ideally, your answer will match what the company looks for in a candidate.
I enjoy the personal connections with prospects and customers, but I think where I really shine is in the details. I'm hyper-organized; my calendar is full of reminders to follow up with customers, and I never let an email linger without quickly responding. Plus, I always spend time with new products—lots of time. This allows me to be able to answer questions fluently, showing off features that aren't always obvious.
More Answers: Why are you good at sales?
More Interview Questions
See more common questions you may get during a sales interview, along with recommended strategies for how to respond.
- How would your (former) supervisor describe you? - Best Answers
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? - Best Answers
- What do you find most rewarding about being in sales? - Best Answers
- Why are you the best person for the job? - Best Answers
- More interview questions: Top 10 Interview Questions and Best Answers
Tips for Giving the Best Response
Every response you give to interview questions should include concrete examples of your sales achievements. It's important to be clear about how you can help the company and grow sales. Include numbers to back up statements. For example, you might say, "At XYZ company, I was responsible for bringing on ABC account, signing a contract that resulted in XX profit over YY time."
Quantify Your Accomplishments
If you quantified your achievements on your resume, share some of those numbers and percentages in your responses. If you didn't include numbers on your resume, take a few minutes to make a list of your best achievements to share with your interviewer. Saying "I increased annual sales by 50% year after year" sounds much better than "I increased sales last year."
Share Your Skills
Interviewers will be looking for you to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills. Review this list of sales skills, and look for ways to highlight your mastery of them in your answers.
Be sure to tailor your responses to reflect the company's products, services, and goals.
Spend time on the company website and research the company online so you're clear about the company's mission. The more you know about the company, the better equipped you'll be to respond.
Questions to Ask the Interviewer
Remember, an interview is a two-way street. It's advantageous to ask the interviewer questions during the interview. Plus, you don't want to get caught flat-footed when the interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions for me?" Here are some ideas for questions you can ask at this moment:
- What qualities does a successful salesperson at your company possess?
- What direction do you see this company taking in the next five years?
- What is the quota for this position?
- What percentage of employees meet their quotas?
- What percentage of employees exceed their quotas?
- Is there a lot of travel associated with this position?
- How is the commission structured in this position?
- Do many people achieve bonuses for high levels of sales?
- How much flexibility does the salesperson have in negotiating price with the customer?
- What do you see as the most difficult challenges for the sales team at this company?
- How many people are on your sales staff?
- How do you motivate your sales staff?
- What does a typical workday/workweek look like at this company?
- Dress to impress. Show up dressed to impress with a positive attitude.
- Know about the company. Interviewers will always appreciate it when you have knowledge about the company and knowledge about the products or services you'd be selling. To that end, do research on the company, including reading recent news stories, browsing social media, and so on.
- Practice your interview skills. Practicing responses to frequently-asked job interview questions allows you to give strong answers targeted to the position. Interviewers expect you to be able to respond to questions fluently, especially to common ones that shouldn't be a surprise.