When you’re interviewing, it’s easy to think the hard part’s over by the time the hiring manager asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”
But in reality, this is another chance for them to evaluate you.
Pose a question about salary or the vacation policy, and they might assume you’re more interested in money or perks than the company’s success. Say you don’t have any questions, and they’ll assume you’re not curious.
So, what should you ask? The 16 questions below, sourced from real sales recruiters and hiring managers, make an excellent impression (not to mention tell you valuable information about your potential employer).
1) “In this role, what distinguishes a great performer from a good one?”
According to HubSpot senior sales recruiter Devon Brown, this question demonstrates that you’re committed to exceeding expectations from day one.
“It also shows you’re focused on finding a good fit,” she adds.
Pay close attention to the hiring manager’s answer. A good one will know what distinguishes the top reps on their team so they can actively cultivate those traits in other reps.
2) “How would you describe the culture?”
Most interviewers will want to make sure you’re a good cultural fit before they hire you. After all, a candidate who prefers to work alone won’t do well in a highly collaborative environment, and vice versa. With this question, you’ll show that you’re carefully evaluating whether the company is a good holistic fit for you.
3) “How do you get new hires up-to-speed with your product?”
“It’s great when candidates ask training-related questions,” says Katie Donohue, who leads HubSpot’s sales recruiting team. “It shows that you’re committed to fully transitioning from your current role to this new one.”
An interest in product training also bodes well for your quota-carrying abilities, since successful reps know their product inside and out.
4) “What’s the ramp-up period like?”
Brown recommends this question if you want to show your interviewer you’re ready to hit the ground running.
As a bonus, their answer will tell you how healthy the sales culture is. Companies that don’t allocate enough time for ramping up usually take a “sink or swim” approach with their reps.
4) “How do your best managers work with their reps?”
Being curious about your relationship with your future manager is a good sign, Brown says. Different organizations promote different management styles. For example, HubSpot sales leaders focus on training and coaching their reps rather than micromanaging their process, while managers at other companies may be more hands-on.
Before the recruiter extends you an offer, they’ll want to know whether your preferred style of being managed aligns with their company’s standard style.
5) “How do managers deliver constructive criticism?”
Brown says this question implies you’re coachable and receptive to feedback.
“In sales, getting constructive criticism is inevitable,” she explains. “You can even broaden this question by asking how often reps meet with their managers and what coaching sessions are like.”
6) “Where do you get your best leads? What’s the process like from there?”
Digging into the company’s selling process shows that you’re curious -- and curiosity is one of the most important traits a salesperson can have.
“People who are genuinely curious won’t have to pretend to care when digging into customers' problems -- they actually will care,” explains SmartBear Software VP of Sales Jim Schuchart. “This rep will be following the right blogs, know a ton about your prospects' business challenges, and not be shy about asking questions. And curious people usually ask the best questions.”
To really impress the hiring manager, follow up with more questions. For instance, if they tell you 10% of their leads are generated from referrals, ask if they have a company referral program.
“This line of questioning shows you’re curious about what’s been working for the company,” Brown says.
7) “Which tools do your salespeople use?”
Some reps are slow to adopt new technology, even though sticking to manual processes or neglecting data entry ultimately slows them down and makes their manager’s job harder.
That’s why asking this question will immediately make you a more attractive candidate. It suggests that you’ll be open to trying new tools -- and might even be a rallying force to get other reps on board, too.
8) “What is the biggest challenge the team has faced in the past year?”
This is one of Donohue’s favorite questions. First, it demonstrates that you’re thinking about the team’s success, not just your own. Second, it makes you appear thoughtful and experienced. Some reps rush into a new job with blind optimism, only to be disappointed when everything’s not completely rosy. By inquiring about the team’s challenges, you’ll show you’re clearly not wearing blinders.
9) “What’s a typical day in this position like?”
You wouldn’t ask this if you weren’t thinking about the tactical, ground-level details of the job. This question shows foresight and pragmatism.
It’ll also tell you which activities will be most important to your success in the role. Will you be spending the majority of your day dialing? Using social media to prospect? Giving demos? If you don’t enjoy the part of the sales process that’s going to consume the majority of your time, it’s probably not the right job for you.
10) “How do you measure success for this role?”
At this stage of the application process, you probably know whether or not you’ll have a quota. But that number isn’t the only way your sales manager will be gauging your success. They’ll also be tracking metrics like the length of your sales cycle, how many opportunities you’re generating, and average deal size.
Qualitative measures of success are important as well. Your manager will likely be focusing on how your understanding of the company’s buyer personas, ability to correctly qualify and disqualify prospects, willingness to learn new strategies and techniques, time management skills, resourcefulness, and product expertise, among other things.
With this question, you’ll show your interviewer that you understand success is multifaceted -- while simultaneously getting insight into what they value most.
11) “I read on your website that one of your company values is X. In practice, how is that value manifested?”
This question usually sticks in your hiring manager’s mind long after the interview. It shows you’ve done your homework, and signals that you’re thinking about the company’s principles and how they’re carried out on a day-to-day basis.
They’ll be excited to hire someone who’s highly likely to contribute to their sales team’s culture.
12) “What types of books do your sales reps read?” or “What books do you recommend prior to joining [company]?”
Donohue loves getting this question, as it shows the candidate is intellectually curious.
“I usually interpret this as intellectual curiosity,” she says. “They clearly want to build a long-term career in sales. That’s especially important because not every candidate has sales experience. So we want to see that commitment to building a long-term sales career.”
13) “How collaborative is your team?”
Teamwork is essential within every selling environment, whether you have several BDRs supporting an inside sales rep, each salesperson handling their own process from prospecting to closing, or something in between. Sales managers know that if their reps don’t share feedback, support, and insights with each other, the team’s process won’t improve over time.
By inquiring about the level of collaboration, you’ll tell your interviewer that you’re a team player.
14) “If I’m hired for this role and I do really well, what happens then? Are there set goals that I can hit to get to the next step?”
Being overly focused on the company’s promotion opportunities at the interview stage is generally frowned on in other professions -- not so in sales. Regular career advancement is baked into most organization’s sales teams, so this line of questioning demonstrates interest, commitment, and ambition.
“Salespeople get promotions directly based on results,” explains Brown. “We’re looking for people who want to come in, crush it, do well, get promoted, and make more money.”
By asking this question, you’ll tell hiring managers that you have lofty goals and will hit the gas pedal to achieve them -- which will benefit the entire company.
15) “What was the transition from [interviewer’s old company] to [interviewer’s current company] like?”
Both Brown and Donohue say researching your interviewer before the interview will boost the impression you make.
“You should be researching prospects before you call, so demonstrating that you’ll do that for an interview is really valuable,” Donohue says.
So if you know who will be interviewing you, find them on LinkedIn and take note of their current responsibilities, former jobs, and any promotions they’ve received at this company. During the interview, use this information to ask specific questions that show you’ve done your due diligence (like the one above).
16) “Do you have any reservations about my fit for this position that I could address?”
Donohue advises candidates to end with this question. It gives you a chance to learn where you stand and potentially resolve the hiring manager’s concerns.
For example, if the interviewer brings up your lack of experience in a certain field, Donohue says you can point to the related experience you got at a previous company or discuss how you’d apply a similar experience to this new job.
And if you can’t address the interviewer’s reservations, that’s a sign that this job isn’t an ideal fit.
Want to really blow sales hiring managers away? Prepare for the 25 questions they’re going to ask you. If all goes well, you’ll soon have an offer in hand.