30 Common Sales Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

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Pree Sarkar
Pree Sarkar


Sales job interview questions tend to cover several angles — and for good reason. Sales roles are multifaceted, and a successful career in the field requires a wide range of skills, a certain disposition, ambition, a growth mindset, and a host of other key attributes and tendencies.

people reviewing common sales job interview questions and how to answer them

You can‘t address all of those elements with a short, cookie-cutter list of four or five universally telling questions, so there’s not really a definitive guide for how to interview for a sales job. That being said, there are certain themes you can draw from to prepare.

To help you get there, we've compiled a list of common sales job interview questions that can help set you on the right course along with insight on how to answer them with or without experience, go over a few questions you can ask to impress your interviewer, and some interview preparation tips. Let's dive in.

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1. “What do you know about our company?”

Why They're Asking

This question helps interviewers gauge your levels of preparation and interest. They want to know that you're enthusiastic about working for their company not specifically — not just the idea of working in general.

Employees who care about the businesses they work for are more likely to remain engaged and actively contribute to a company‘s culture and their team’s dynamic. By asking this, they‘re trying to get a read on whether you’ll be a team player who believes in their organization's mission or someone who might potentially “phone it in” and ultimately fall off shortly after taking the job.

How to Answer

Start by reading the organization's website and the Wikipedia entry if applicable, then search the company name on Google to read what others are saying about it.

Concisely summarize what you learned about the organization’s solutions, who it serves, who it competes with, and what industry analysts, employees, and other interested parties say about it. Finally, repeat these steps with the company’s top three competitors.

Sample Answer

“I’ve been very familiar with your company’s innovative solutions like X. I see the value it provides your target market of Y, and how it has done so against competitors Z.”

2. “Tell me a bit more about yourself.”

Why They're Asking

This question helps your prospective employer get a read on your ability to communicate and appropriately balance personal and professional information. It doubles as a chance to get a feel for both who you are as a person and an opportunity to see how well you can comfortably build rapport without being overly casual.

How to Answer

As I said, this question is supposed to incorporate elements of both your personal and professional lives — so make sure you touch on each without getting too hung up on one in particular. Start with an interesting personal tidbit. Then, talk about why you are pursuing a sales career in general, and finish by discussing why you're interested in this particular company.

Sample Answer

“Well off the clock I am deeply in love with my X hobby, I’ve done it for years and enjoy it with my friends and family! And professionally, I’ve been a salesperson for Y years as I have a passion for Z, which led me to find your company that aligns with my interests.”

3. “Give me an overview of your career to date.”

Why They're Asking

A career retrospective highlights your ability to communicate while speaking to the logic and rationale of your career choices. It also allows you to tout some of your more impressive accomplishments.

How to Answer

Start with your first professional job — not your first job ever. Nobody wants to hear about how you worked as a camp counselor as a teenager. From there, briefly about what you learned from each successive role.

Don’t forget to touch on what attracted you to each new opportunity, culminating in the one you are currently interviewing for. Frame each job change in terms of striving for something greater, not in terms of running away from a crummy manager or company.

Sample Answer

“I got my foot in the door in sales at X company, which gave me the foundation I needed to develop Y skills. I then found the opportunity to progress with Z company, where I was able to build on what I had already learned and excel in…”

4. “What are your short- to mid-term career goals?”

Why They're Asking

Effective goal-setting is the mark of a clear-thinking, motivated worker. It's essential in the context of both fulfilling day-to-day responsibilities and staying the course throughout your development within an organization.

An interviewer wants to know that you'll remain organized, engaged, and ambitious throughout your tenure at their company — this question gives them the chance to see that.

How to Answer

Before your interview, talk to a few people who are where you would like to be and ask if your stated goals strike a healthy balance between high-minded and achievable.

Then, when you talk to the hiring manager, briefly describe your goals and hone in on why you want to achieve them — your driving motivations and where you think achieving these goals could take you in the next few years.

Sample Answer

“My short-term goal is to X, as I want to outdo myself in Y motivations, This will help me build up the skills I need to achieve my long-term goal of Z and reach new heights.”

5. “How do you generate, develop, and close sales opportunities?”

Why They're Asking

Shockingly enough, if you're interviewing for a sales position, you need to demonstrate that you have legitimate sales acumen. Interviewers want to know that you have the requisite skills to deliver on your responsibilities — cultural fit can only get you so far if you lack the technical ability to actually make sales.

How to Answer

Talk specifically about how you execute a sale from start to finish. Address planning, preparation, targeting, engaging, discovering needs, providing solutions, resolving objections, and gaining agreement. Layout how you tackle each of these tasks step by step.

Sample Answer

“I begin to generate sales opportunities by X through calculated preparation and client targeting. I develop opportunities by listening to the needs of the customer and working on providing the most appropriate resolution. I close sales opportunities by gaining the customer’s trust in both the product and me until we reach a positive agreement.”

6. “What do you consider your most significant sales achievement to date?”

Why They're Asking

This question is where interviewers allow you to make a meaningful impression. They want to know that you‘ve been able to apply your skills effectively to legitimately impressive ends. They’re also looking to see how well you can identify the challenges you've faced and articulate the strategies you leveraged to overcome them.

How to Answer

Specificity is key here. People remember richly detailed stories of success. When fleshing out your crowning achievement, talk about the time, the specific obstacles you overcame, the people involved with the process, the steps you took to achieve the end result, and what happened afterward. Everyone loves a good sales story, so the more you can amp up the drama, the better.

Sample Answer

“I had been trying to find new avenues to explore, and after putting myself out there and traveling to more events, making more calls, and building relationships with people around the world, I landed a six-figure sale to a corporation on a lead that I sourced myself!”

7. “Tell me about a time that you failed to achieve goals you set. What went wrong and how could the outcome have been different?”

Why They're Asking

Successful salespeople learn from their mistakes. They're able to deal with failure by critically analyzing their shortcomings, taking them in stride, and not making the same errors twice.

Knowing how to handle failure is every bit as important as understanding how to succeed. Hitting hitches and hiccups is a natural part of sales life, interviewers want to know that you'll be able to effectively overcome obstacles without getting overwhelmed, demoralized, or confused.

How to Answer

Be honest here, and clearly spell out one of your failures. Start with the goal you were pursuing, and then elaborate on why it was important to you, how you tried to achieve it, why you failed, who was involved, what you learned, and what you would have done differently.

Sample Answer

“When I was first beginning my career, I wasn’t able to meet quota for deals in the X industry. I took a step back to get to the root of the problem and found out I was targeting the wrong demographic in terms of age and occupation. I learned that I needed to conduct deeper research with data and have kept that way of thinking at the forefront of my strategy today.”

8. “Why are you interested in this company? Why are you interested in this role?”

Why They're Asking

In a similar vein to the first point on this list, this question is meant to gauge how enthusiastic you are about the interviewer's company specifically — an enthusiastic employee is an engaged one.

And they‘re much more likely to go the extra mile when push comes to shove. They want to know that you’re a good fit. If you can‘t specifically articulate why that’s the case, then they'll probably pass on you.

How to Answer

While you're researching the company and role, make a list of what excites you about both. Do you believe in the work the company does? Explain why. Are you interested in expanding your skillset to include the enterprise-level business they conduct? Tell them that. Does the role play to your strengths? Explain which strengths and how.

Even if your interviewer doesn‘t ask you this question, it’s a strong way to begin or end your meeting.

Sample Answer

“I’ve always been fascinated by this industry and how your company has made such an innovative solution for its customers. It would be a pleasure to learn more about the different types of solutions you offer and to contribute to the success of your company through my skill set. I would revel in the opportunity to learn more about it all and grow within this position.”

9. “Consider a time when you haven't gotten along with someone on your team. What would that person say about you?”

Why They're Asking

Salespeople are passionate. It‘s a high-stress field and employers want to know you have self-awareness and the ability to work as part of a team. If you can’t effectively contribute to a team dynamic, collaborate with others, and thoughtfully resolve conflicts with coworkers, you‘re more or less doomed to detract from your sales org’s success.

How to Answer

Be honest with this answer, and give specific examples that have a clear resolution in the end. Hiring managers don’t want candidates who can't take responsibility or are too prideful to resolve conflict.

Sample Answer

“In my last role, I worked closely with a BDR with a very different communication style than my own. We clashed early on because I'm an external thought processor and he was an internal processor. Ultimately, we took some time together to work out ways he could be more explicit in articulating his ideas and how I could be more grounded in hearing him and offering feedback.”

10. “How do you keep up with the latest industry trends in sales?”

Why They're Asking

This question is a way to help interviewers get a feel for how passionate you are about sales as a whole — an opportunity to see that you‘re in the field because you want to be, not just because you’re trying to make money. Keeping up with industry trends demonstrates motivation, sincere interest, and a commitment to growth and professional development.

How to Answer

If you‘re not reading the latest industry books, listening to sales podcasts, or following the hottest blogs, how are you keeping your skills sharp? Always come armed with a few ways you’re learning about and bettering your craft.

Sample Answer

“I stay in the loop on sales trends in many ways. I’m always reading the trending topics circulating my favorite business publications, and engaging in the conversation over LinkedIn. I even have a growing collection of sales success literature.”

11. “Tell me about the toughest sale you've ever made.”

Why They're Asking

Interviewers ask this question to give you the chance to tout a major accomplishment, articulate your problem-solving skills, demonstrate critical thinking, and show how you've leveraged the skills you learned throughout your professional development.

They also want to see passion here. You‘re talking about something you’re extremely proud of, they'd like to see some enthusiasm that will carry over when you take on your new role.

How to Answer

Every salesperson has that one sale that took a year to close, went through 37 levels of bureaucracy, or required them to win over a whole team that wanted a different product. Tell that story — and get specific. Talk about how much time you devoted to the sale and how you justified that time.

You want to demonstrate how you thought strategically about your time and your company's resources — not how much time you wasted closing a small deal. So make sure that the deal in question had a big payout.

Sample Answer

“There was a time when I pitched my business to a gentleman at a networking event, I wasn’t there originally to do so, but couldn’t help but overhear that he was having troubles with X in his business … After hours of deliberation, exchanging business cards, holding multiple meetings over the span of months, I landed the largest deal of my career with a major company in my Y years of work!”

12. “Have you ever had to break up with a client or prospect? How did you approach that?”

Why They're Asking

This question sheds light on your capacity for empathy, assertiveness, strategic thinking, and communication skills. It lets interviewers know that you have a good feel for when it's time to cut your losses with prospects, the confidence to act on that sensibility, and the necessary touch to end relationships amicably and thoughtfully.

Breaking up with prospects is not for the faint of heart — but it‘s a necessary part of sales. It shows you’re confident in your ability to work on other deals, cognizant of what‘s best for your customer, and fierce about protecting your company’s resources.

How to Answer

Identify an instance where a relationship with a prospect or client didn‘t pan out. Establish exactly why they weren’t a good fit, and highlight the moment you realized that was the case. Then, speak to how you communicated with them calmly but assertively, ended the relationship gracefully without burning the bridge, and benefitted from moving on.

Sample Answer

“There have been times when the product offering had no longer aligned with a client. While I want to meet the quota, I know when a product isn’t the right fit for a customer. I would weigh all options before coming to the conclusion, and would respectfully communicate that they would need to explore other avenues.”

13. “Why are you interested in sales?”

Why They're Asking

Like a few other questions listed here, this one helps interviewers gauge how much skin you have in the game. They want to know you have an extremely personal stake in what you do — that you approach your career with passion and sincere interest.

With this question, they‘re allowing you to show that you’ll bring solid energy to the position. If you can‘t articulate why you like sales, they might think you’re pursuing the position for the wrong reasons.

How to Answer

Be sincere. You obviously have a reason why you got into sales — and that should extend beyond, “I wanted to make money.” Start with how you got into the field. Then, explain why you've enjoyed it enough to stick with your career trajectory.

Talk about how your personality and skill set align with sales as a practice — but also discuss the specific aspects you love about both your day-to-day and overarching goals.

Sample Answer

“I was inspired to work in sales because it’s a profession where hard work and problem-solving pay off. I enjoy the challenge of making a deal and feel accomplished when I provide a customer with the solution they’re looking for.”

14. “Do you consider yourself a team player?”

Why They're Asking

Team players can achieve their own goals while supporting and uplifting those around them to do the same. After all, hiring managers want to bring on candidates who boost the morale of the team — not damage it.

This question is to gauge how well you’ll work with and around others in the business place, and if you’re against that notion then they know someone else will be more willing.

How to Answer

Assure the interviewer that you can successfully work both in a team and alone. You want them to know that you’re open and inviting to work with a team, but not overly dependent or needing their help constantly.

You can even bring up positive past experiences of team projects that you found to be enriching to your work experience.

Sample Answer

“Yes, I enjoy working in a team environment that encourages one another to reach new heights. I can flourish in a role working both alone or in a team, as in my latest experience, I have performed well in either.”

15. “In what ways do you build rapport with customers?”

Why They're Asking

This question is very straightforward and very important to the sales hiring manager. They’re asking to see if you already have a reliable sales approach that helps you build rapport, or a connection, with prospects.

If you already have some sales experience listed on your resume, the interviewer will definitely be expecting an answer that you shouldn’t have to take too much time to reach.

How to Answer

Answer their question by explaining that you build rapport with customers through personalized, unique, and appropriate conversation. You want the interviewer to know that you see the value in offering customers good experiences and that you can do so in a professional manner that they’ll respect.

No customer is the same, and knowing how to build rapport with diverse customers is music to a sales hiring manager’s ears.

Sample Answer

“Every customer is different, so to ensure that I can build relationships with them, I would personalize my approach to their unique needs, and hold conversations that are inviting and appropriate as we conduct business.”

16. “What do you do when sales are down?”

Why They're Asking

Being in sales means that not every month is going to be the most profitable, the hiring manager wants to know how you identify and approach this problem when it occurs.

They’re looking to make sure that you have a plan in place and an attitude that reflects that you won’t give up or dwell on the setback.

How to Answer

Tell the interviewer that you would make a strategic plan to come back from the slump. Provide the ways you would track your own progress, and how you would weigh your benchmark against it.

Sample Answer

“When sales go down, I don’t panic. Instead, I take a step back and make a strategic plan to reach more customers, with a different approach. I would calculate how far I am from my benchmark and re-evaluate my plan as needed.”

You’re familiar with the most common questions an interviewer will ask you, but how do you answer them when you’re new to the industry?

17. “How do you handle rejection?”

Why They're Asking

Rejection is a fact of sales life. It‘s something you’re bound to deal with on (at least) a near-daily basis. Interviewers want to know that you have the composure and wherewithal to handle these kinds of experiences and gauge your willingness to learn from them.

How to Answer

I recommend that any salesperson who's asked this question be as frank as possible about it. Demonstrate that you understand how rejection plays a key role in both putting the customer first and developing as a sales professional. Also, shed light on some experiences you might have had with it — no salesperson bats 1.000, and social proof goes a long way in this context.

Just saying something to the effect of, “I just keep moving,” and leaving it at that will read as arrogant and shortsighted.

Sample Answer

"On some level, I take rejection personally — as anyone does — but I try to frame it as a growth opportunity more than some sort of spite-powered motivation tactic. It means there‘s something I could’ve done better, so I try to sit with any rejection a bit to diagnose what it was.

"For instance, in my last role, I was selling construction project management software to a midsize outfit. I ultimately couldn't close due to budget constraints that came up last minute. That experience really taught me the value of active listening and highlighting cost-effectiveness and flexible pricing options throughout the sales process.

“If I had listened more intently, I might have caught those concerns earlier and either conveyed how we could accommodate them or known not to sink more time into the deal earlier in the sales process.”

18. “How do you ensure customer satisfaction after you've made a sale?”

Why They're Asking

Happy customers are some of the most valuable assets any business can have on hand. Referrals drive some of the highest quality leads, and testimonials from satisfied customers provide some of the most effective social proof for supporting sales efforts. Interviewers want to know that you know how to play your part when it comes to keeping customers on board and enthusiastic.

How to Answer

Establish that you understand how important key metrics like CLV and customer referrals are. Then, stress how you act on that understanding through activities like following up after closing and facilitating smooth transitions to your customer success department.

Sample Answer

"Generally speaking, I ensure customer satisfaction after a sale with some key strategies — namely setting reasonable expectations throughout the sales process, remaining diligent with follow-up both during and after a deal, reasonably assisting customer success and support when I'm able to, and actively seeking and incorporating feedback from customers.

“Taken together, those elements allow me to start and sustain productive relationships with the prospects I convert.”

19. “Do you believe in aggressive follow-up in sales — potentially running the risk of alienating a prospect?”

Why They're Asking

This kind of question is meant to get a pulse on two key elements: your ethical standards and your willingness to be persistent.

How to Answer

Personally, I would recommend not dancing around this question and giving some kind of waffling, reluctant “non-answer.” You likely have a take on this — be measured, but don‘t be dishonest. It’s a pulse check on whether you‘ll fit into this sales org’s culture. Going in halfway doesn't help anyone involved in the interview.

Sample Answer

"It‘s likely a case-by-case basis, but if a deal calls for it, I’m willing to err on the side of persistence. Obviously, the first priority is solving for the customer — but if a deal is stalled and it‘s going to take extra oomph to either move it forward or learn it’s not viable, I'll be more aggressive.

“I do think there's a distinction between persistence and badgering — but I'm not someone who will sit on their hands, waiting by the phone for a prospect. I'm willing to follow up tactfully but assertively.”

20. “How do you feel about the use of artificial intelligence in sales, particularly as it relates to potential job displacement?”

Why They're Asking

This is another question designed to help understand your ethical compass. It's also an opportunity for you to show you understand timely trends and have a willingness to adapt to them as they emerge.

How to Answer

A question like this is a pulse check on your adaptability — so I would answer it by demonstrating how you're willing and able to incorporate emerging tech into your sales repertoire.

Sample Answer

"Artificial intelligence is one of the more valuable resources salespeople have at their disposal — especially when it comes to automation, data analysis, and personalization. There are obviously reasonable concerns about job displacement, but I try to see AI as a complement rather than a replacement to human sales professionals.

“By leveraging AI, salespeople can focus more on strategic relationship-building, creativity, and problem-solving — and embracing AI responsibly with ongoing training and upskilling ensures that sales teams can adapt and thrive in an evolving technological landscape.”

21. “Can you tell me about a time when you turned a 'no' into a 'yes?'”

Why They're Asking

Vit Koval, Co-founder of Globy, says, “This question reveals not just the candidate's persistence but also their strategy and creativity in handling objections.”

How to Answer

According to Koval, “A strong answer would detail a specific situation, the approach taken, and the outcome, highlighting the candidate's persuasive skills and resilience.”

Sample Answer

"During my stint at a construction project management software company, I once encountered a scenario where a small construction firm was reluctant to embrace our solution due to budget constraints and concerns about complexity. Understanding their needs, I tailored a personalized demo focusing on cost-saving features and our user-friendly interface, addressing their specific pain points.

"Additionally, I offered a flexible payment plan that aligned with their budgetary constraints. Through persistent follow-ups, showcasing success stories of similar firms, and providing exceptional customer support, I eventually turned their ‘no’ into a ‘yes.’

“This experience taught me the importance of empathy, customization, and perseverance in sales, especially when overcoming objections and converting leads into satisfied customers.”

22. “How do you stay motivated during slow periods or in the face of repeated rejection?”

Why They're Asking

Koval also likes this question. According to him, “Sales roles can be challenging, and this question helps understand a candidate's self-motivation and resilience.”

How to Answer

Koval continues, “An effective response would describe specific strategies or mindsets the candidate employs to remain focused and productive, even when times are tough. It's an opportunity for candidates to showcase their emotional intelligence and tenacity.”

Sample Answer

"During slow periods or in the face of repeated rejection, I try to set realistic goals and focus on self-improvement. Rejection is natural in sales — it's built into the job, so I do my best to simultaneously take those periods in stride and learn what I can from them.

"I take these stretches as opportunities for personal analysis and growth. For instance, if I notice I'm being tripped up by a lack of product knowledge, I lock in and research my offering more extensively. I also take strides like revisiting my sales calls with conversation intelligence to zero in on where I might be slipping up.

“Ultimately, I just try to be proactive in identifying and remedying the 'why' behind these stretches without getting too demoralized. I think some periods where I dealt with consistent rejection wound up being some of the most productive times of my career — as they prompted me to be more self-aware and active in improving my sales acumen.”

23. “How do you ensure you meet or exceed your sales targets?”

Why They're Asking

Koval also referenced this question when we asked for his take on this subject. He says, “This question gets to the heart of a candidate's goal-setting and achievement strategies.”

How to Answer

Koval says, “Successful candidates typically share their process for setting goals, tracking progress, and adjusting tactics as needed. They might also discuss the importance of understanding customer needs deeply, demonstrating product knowledge, and building strong relationships, both internally and externally.”

Sample Answer

"I start by setting SMART goals aligned with the company's objectives and market trends when trying to meet or exceed sales targets. Then, I track my progress using the KPIs the org is most interested in — allowing me to identify areas for improvement and make strategic adjustments as needed.

"From there, I take a customer-centric approach — listening actively, coming to understand where prospects are coming from individually, and focusing on relationship-building. Ultimately, I look to act as a helpful, consultative resource through the sales process.

“This approach — combined with continuous learning and collaboration across teams — enables me to develop connections with customers, focus on relevant product knowledge, and ultimately frame specific, helpful value propositions. All of that amounts to me generally exceeding sales targets.”

24. “Describe a time when you had to sell a product or service that was new to you. How did you approach the challenge, and what was the outcome?”

Why They're Asking

Marc Bishop, Director of Wytlabs, says that this question can speak to a candidate's adaptability and quick learning.

How to Answer

He says, “Successful candidates will talk about their process for getting up to speed with the new offering, including how they identified key value propositions and tailored their pitch to meet their audience's needs. The most compelling answers will also reflect on what they learned from the experience and how it influenced their future sales tactics.”

Sample Answer

"In a previous role at a company selling construction project management software, I shifted verticals to larger construction firms and was tasked with selling an offering I wasn't familiar with.

"I started to adapt by getting a pulse on the new persona I was working with — that gave me a frame of reference for the pain points I would need to speak to, along with the features best equipped to accommodate them.

"I also developed more extensive technical product knowledge and unique selling points. Additionally, I conducted extensive market research to get a sense of the competitive landscape.

"Ultimately, I worked to get as much context as possible that would help me identify the ‘why’ behind the typical prospect‘s purchase decision. The outcome was positive as I secured several new clients and received positive feedback on the software’s effectiveness in meeting their needs.

“This experience taught me the importance of adaptability, continuous learning, and customer-centric selling — shaping my future sales tactics to focus on personalized solutions and value-driven propositions.”

25. “What digital tools and technologies do you believe are changing the sales landscape, and how have you leveraged them in your process?”

Why They're Asking

Bishop says that this question can reveal a candidate's tech-savviness and innovative mindset.

How to Answer

He says, “The ideal response would not just list tools but also describe how they've been utilized effectively to enhance productivity, improve customer engagement, or increase sales. Whether it's CRM software, social media platforms, or data analytics tools, we want to hear about real-world applications that demonstrate a candidate's ability to harness technology for sales success.”

Sample Answer

"When it comes to new tech, I try to adopt early and adapt thoroughly. If my org is embracing a new resource, or I happen upon a tool that I can apply personally, I'm always willing to learn and embrace it.

“For instance, at my last company, my org made a significant investment in a conversation intelligence platform. I immediately learned how to leverage it — getting a sense of how I could share the kinds of insights that could improve our org's messaging with leadership and identifying where I had room for improvement.”

26. “What is the most common objection you anticipate hearing from customers in this industry/sector, and how would you overcome it?”

Matt Erhard, Managing Partner of Summit Search Group, asks this question when he‘s "looking for candidates to demonstrate an understanding of the product or service that they’ll be selling in the role, what customers' pain points will be regarding it, and what will motivate them to make a purchase."

How to Answer

According to Erhard, “It's best when candidates have experience in the industry, or selling a similar product or service, and can craft their answer based on this first-hand experience.”

27. “Are you comfortable making cold calls? What is your strategy or approach to get the most value out of cold calls?”

Why They're Asking

Erhard is also a fan of this question, saying, “Cold calling is the part of sales that people tend to like the least, but it's a necessary part of the role.” He feels that sales candidates should be able to speak to how they approach the less glamorous aspects of sales.

How to Answer

Erhard continues, “The first thing I'm looking for in an answer is that the candidate understands the importance of cold calls and, ideally, has some experience making them. I also want to hear them mention ways they build relationships during these calls and set themselves up to make follow-up calls, which is often when these sales are closed.”

28. “How do you view the relationship between sales, marketing, and advertising? Do you think it's important to align marketing and sales efforts, and if so, what are some successful approaches to do so?”

According to Erhard, “In my experience, sales teams function best when they see themselves as integral, connected parts of the broader team. It's also been my experience that sales teams are more prone to 'silo'-ing than other departments in an organization, and this can disrupt the cohesiveness of your brand messaging and overall operational efficiency.”

How to Answer

“I'm looking for candidate answers to this question to focus on areas like collaboration, communication, and cohesion of both the team and the company's messaging.”

Sample Answer

"Aligning sales‘, marketing’s, and advertising's respective goals and interests is mission critical when it comes to optimizing results across the board — namely when it comes to factors like qualification, consistency in company messaging, and establishing reasonable expectations from customers.

“I think getting there starts with creating open lines of communication between departments, collaborating regularly, and consistently sharing feedback. In doing all of that, you can better align on the fronts I mentioned, create a seamless experience throughout the buyer's journey, and ultimately appeal to the prospects your solution fits best.”

29. “How do you adapt your sales techniques in a rapidly evolving digital landscape?”

Why They're Asking

According to Dylan Cleppe, Co-Founder & CEO of OneStop Northwest LLC, “This question tests a candidate's flexibility and willingness to embrace change — an essential factor in the digital services industry.”

How to Answer

Cleppe says, “Ideal responses reveal a strategic mindset towards continuous learning and experimentation with new digital tools and platforms to stay ahead.”

Sample Answer

"At my previous company, I kept pace with digital transformation by staying up-to-date with emerging technologies, market trends, and customer preferences.

“For instance, as the industry shifted towards cloud-based solutions, I shifted my focus to highlight the scalability, accessibility, and cost-efficiency of our software. Additionally, I ”incorporated digital marketing strategies such as targeted email campaigns, social media outreach, and webinars to reach a broader audience and engage prospects at various stages of the sales funnel.

“By continuously evaluating and adjusting my approach based on industry shifts and customer feedback, I ensured that my sales techniques remained effective and aligned with the evolving digital landscape.”

30. “Describe a scenario where you had to build a relationship online with a potential lead?”

Why They're Asking

Cleppe also says candidates might run into questions like this one. According to him, “In the digital space, the ability to connect and build trust without face-to-face interaction is paramount.”

How to Answer

Cleppe continues, “I look for detailed examples of nurturing online relationships that led to long-term partnerships or sales. This sheds light on their communication skills, patience, and creativity in using virtual platforms to mirror the personal touch traditionally found in direct sales interactions. This balance of technical aptitude and relational prowess has been pivotal in my roles, ensuring we not only reach but genuinely connect with our audience to drive success.”

Sample Answer

"At my last company — selling construction project management software to small construction firms — I connected with a prospect via a LinkedIn group dedicated to construction industry trends.

"They were interested in adopting digital solutions but a bit hesitant due to less-than-ideal experiences with previous providers. With those factors in mind, I commented on one of their posts — primarily sharing my expertise but also interspersing some insight about our software.

"That comment sparked a dialogue, and over the following weeks, I nurtured the relationship by sharing collateral like relevant articles and free demos — I also quickly and comprehensively addressed the concerns they raised.

“That degree of personalized attention and focused insight helped me develop the trust and rapport I needed to ultimately facilitate a smooth sales process, close, and foster a productive relationship in the long run.”

How to Answer Sales Interview Questions with No Experience

1. Phrase your lack of experience as eagerness to learn and grow.

Everyone has to get their foot in the door somewhere, so make it abundantly clear that you are motivated to learn and grow with their company.

Don’t talk down or apologize for your lack of experience in your interview, instead, phrase it as enthusiasm to become a great salesperson.

  • “I’m excited to take on the challenge of being a hard-working salesperson.”
  • “I’m eager to learn more sales skills if given the opportunity.”
  • I’m ready to take what I’ve learned from my classes and apply it to the real world.”

2. Highlight extracurricular activities you’ve done from your educational background.

Having an educational background in business is definitely a move in the right direction, but if you don’t, talk about activities you’ve participated in that are useful in sales. Some value-adding extracurricular activities include:

  • Knowing or studying more than one language: This is a hard skill that sales jobs are constantly looking for, and is especially important for global businesses.
  • Holding a leadership position in an organization: This shows that you understand teamwork, have a self-starter attitude, and that you aren’t afraid to take on responsibility.
  • Fundraising for a cause: This extracurricular activity shows that you’re proficient in project management, business savvy, and motivated to help others.

3. Talk about transferable skills from your background — no matter the title.

Whether it was paid or unpaid — any experience is preferred. And oftentimes, common jobs, like retail or restaurant positions, teach skills that salespeople need.

Discuss what you’ve learned that has transferable skills for the sales industry. Some skills to pull from your background include:

  • Organizational Skills: Time management and the ability to multitask show hiring managers that you have the ability to succeed in sales.
  • Communication Skills: Verbal or written, you need to let your interviewer know you can effectively communicate with customers — and even better — if you can talk about how you’ve negotiated or persuaded someone in the workplace.
  • Relationship Building Skills: If you’ve worked well in teams, or had a managerial background, then you have valuable relationship-building skills. Demonstrating that you care about people and their needs makes you a more reliable salesperson.

4. Talk about how you have problem-solved in the past.

Problem-solving is something effective salespeople do every day, and if you think about it, you too can bring up a time when you’ve had to problem-solve in your day-to-day life.

Whether it was diffusing a disagreement, fixing a gadget on your own, or coming up with a solution or “life hack”, these are all situations that hiring managers can see that you have critical thinking skills useful for the workplace.

Now that you have a feel for how you should carry yourself in a sales job interview, let's see some questions you can ask to wow your interviewer.

Questions to Ask in a Sales Job Interview

1. “What are the characteristics of your top salespeople?”

This question shows that you‘re interested in seeing if you fit the mold for your interviewer’s company. It demonstrates that you want to know what it takes to thrive in this role on a fundamental level — and the value of that is twofold.

For one, it shows your interviewer that you have a legitimate, personal stake in landing this role. And secondly, it gives you some insight into how you'd fare at the company.

2. “What types of objections do your reps consistently face?”

This question shows you're thinking proactively — that you are already interested in figuring out the challenges that come with the job. It tells the interviewer that you want to understand the day-to-day obstacles your potential colleagues deal with. Like so many other points detailed here, it also helps your interviewer place you in the role mentally.

3. “What are the biggest challenges new hires face in their first three months?”

This question demonstrates specific interest in the company and indicates that you have a growth-oriented mindset. You‘re showing that you’re already interested in assuming and overcoming the challenges salespeople in this role face.

Asking about the obstacles new hires traditionally deal with is an excellent way to tell interviewers, “I'm already thinking about what I'll need to do to thrive at your company.”

4. “Can I get a high-level overview of your sales process?”

Asking about the company‘s sales process shows that you’re a practical thinker. This question shows that you want to understand how you'll be selling and whether your skills and sales acumen align with how the broader org operates. Interviewers will appreciate that kind of brass tacks thoughtfulness.

5. “Can you give me some more information about your tech stack?”

Like the fourth question listed here, this one shows that you‘re interested in the more nuts-and-bolts, practical aspects of the job. By indicating that you want to know which tools you’ll be using, you‘re demonstrating two key pluses for anyone interested in a sales role. First, you’re showing that you already know how to use some sales tools. Second, you‘re revealing that you’re willing to learn how to use tools you might not be familiar with.

In addition to asking interesting questions yourself, you should be preparing for your sales interview in other ways. Below, you'll find our top tips.

1. Research the company and the products it sells.

The key to being prepared for a sales interview is understanding the specifics of the job and demonstrating fit. This begins with learning all you can about the opportunity.

Just as you would research a prospect to build rapport, research the company to help you get more easily acquainted with the interviewer. Doing so solidifies how competent and knowledgeable you appear.

2. From there, identify who its target buyer likely is.

Once you‘ve taken a thorough look at the company you’re interviewing with, start to piece together who its target buyer is. Based on its product or service's functionality, the copy on its website, its competition, and other clues, figure out who the business is trying to market to.

Being able to talk about the buyer and their pains demonstrates your empathy and skill as a salesperson — as well as your value to your prospective employer.

3. Take stock of your sales achievements.

Reflecting on your successes can help you build confidence in yourself and get you in the mindset of communicating in detail why you're the right person for the job.

If you‘re just breaking into sales and don’t have sales experience, draw on related skills and achievements. For example, being in customer service may have sharpened your communication and problem-solving skills. Coming from an academic background may have prepared you for the research aspect of prospecting.

Always play to your strengths.

4. Consider how to convey them in a concrete, measurable way.

One way to communicate your achievements is by attaching numbers to them. By using concrete details, you can up-level the quality of your communication, back up your assertions with “proof,” appeal to the logic of the interviewer, and challenge them to imagine themselves in the numbers.

Here's how:

Instead of saying, "I have experience in cold calling,“ you'd say, ”At my last company, I'd make X cold calls per hour and successfully convert around X% of them into warm leads."

Instead of saying, "I'm skilled at fundraising,“ you'd say, ”I fundraised X dollars last year for the [Program Name]."

5. Be able to talk about yourself the way you would a product or buyer.

An interview is just like a sales meeting. However, instead of persuading a buyer as you sell a product or service, you‘ll be assessed on how well you sell yourself. Consider the company’s pains and what value you can bring to the organization. Doing this will help your interviewer imagine how well you‘ll sell the company’s products or services.

Be able to articulate your goals, motivators, and working style. How well you know yourself and can advocate for yourself will help them imagine you doing the same for their buyers.

6. Practice the STAR interviewing method.

STAR is an effective way to answer interview questions, and it stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

This helps you structure your answer in a way that has a narrative or storytelling component while including only the necessary details and outcomes, the result being more comprehensive and understandable communication.

In short, it allows you to get to the point quicker.

7. Compile a list of open-ended questions for your prospective employer.

You definitely want to get a sense of the organization in the interview, but that's not the only reason you should do this as you prepare.

Think of your interview as a sales meeting. Open-ended questions are an important aspect of the “discovery” or "information gathering‘’ aspect of the meeting. You can exercise your active listening skills to pick up on information that can help you in the interview.

At the very least, it gives the interviewer a chance to evaluate your skill at asking questions and imagine you with their prospects.

Now that you know what to do to prepare for the interview, here are some last-minute tips to maximize your chances of landing the job.

Sales Interview Tips

  1. Concisely summarize what you've learned about the organization’s solutions, who they serve, who they compete with, and what industry experts say about them.
  2. Explain why you're interested in this company and role.
  3. Talk very specifically about how you execute your sales role from start to finish.
  4. Always mention data to back up claims about your past performance.
  5. Everyone loves a good sales story, so the more you can amp up the drama, the better.
  6. Be honest about failures, and clearly spell out an example of when you've been challenged and how you moved forward.
  7. Above all, be prepared and be yourself.

1. Concisely summarize what you‘ve learned about the organization’s solutions, who they serve, who they compete with, and what industry experts say about them.

Demonstrating a healthy understanding of their business and industry shows you've done your homework.

Your interviewers don't expect you to have followed every move their company has made over the past five years, but learning about its largest competitors, what sets it apart in the market, and the accolades it has received will impress them and will distinguish you from other candidates.

2. Explain why you're interested in this company and role.

We touched on this above, but it bears repeating. Take time to really think through this question, and deliver an answer that goes beyond, "You have such a great culture,“ or, ”I think it will be a really great fit."

Discuss why their product/service resonates with you, what it is about their business model that speaks to a specific skill you've honed, or how you think their sales team can help you grow in a certain area.

3. Talk very specifically about how you execute your sales role from start to finish.

When it comes to discussing your sales performance, go hard on the numbers. Have them ready and explain how you achieved them. Did you exceed your quota three quarters in a row last year? By how much? And how did you do it?

If you can‘t explain how or why you succeeded in your role, it doesn’t really matter what you achieved.

4. Always mention data to back up claims about your past performance.

Similarly, don't just tell interviewers you closed the biggest deal in company history. Tell them how much bigger that deal was, how much time it took to close, and why it was worth it for your company and your quota.

5. Everyone loves a good sales story, so the more you can amp up the drama, the better.

Did you close a deal in the middle of a lake while on vacation in between water ski turns? Tell that story like you‘ve told it a million times. You’re a salesperson, and part of the job is being an outstanding storyteller. Demonstrate these skills to your interviewers by telling your all-time greatest sales stories.

6. Be honest about failures, and clearly spell out an example of when you've been challenged and how you moved forward.

Now's not the time to drag out the old, “I'm a perfectionist, and it frustrated a prospect once,” narrative. Dig deep and show your interviewers you have healthy self-awareness and the ability to learn and proactively move on from your mistakes.

Talk about a time you lost a client because you were so focused on closing a bigger fish — and mention how you've taken those lessons and avoided making the same mistake again.

7. Above all, be prepared and be yourself.

Be unapologetically you in an interview. If you‘re not the loudest voice on the sales floor, don’t pretend to be. If you have a weakness, be honest about it. And if you're especially kick-ass at closing or demos, be honest about that too.

Imposter syndrome is one of the worst traits to carry into an interview. So, just like you‘d be comfortable letting a bad-fit prospect go, enter every interview with the confidence to let this job go if it’s not the right fit for you.

Now that you have a feel for how you should carry yourself in a sales job interview, let's see some questions you can ask to wow your interviewer.

Nail your Next Sales Job Interview

While it’s impossible to anticipate every sales job interview question that could be asked, these examples should prepare you for the most important ones and any derivatives that come from them.

Above all, be prepared and be yourself. Your best interviews and outcomes are ahead of you.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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