When it comes to interviewing sales people, there are a few things you should keep in mind. I remember when I was first starting out in sales and went on my first interview. The interviewer asked me some tough questions that really made me think about my experience and what I could bring to the table. Since then, I’ve interviewed countless salespeople and have learned a thing or two about what makes a great candidate.

Here is what you need to have in mind when interviewing sales people in order to make the best hiring decision for your company:

Interviewing Sales People

Salespeople are often interviewed in order to get a feel for their skills, experience, and personality. This allows potential employers to determine whether or not the salesperson would be a good fit for their company.

The interviewer will usually ask the sales person questions about their experience, their approach to sales, and their motivation for wanting the job.

The Hiring Process

When you’re looking to hire a salesperson, it’s important to do a bit of research beforehand.

The answers the candidate gives to your interview question are just one source of information about them.

Review the candidate’s background information

While resumes are helpful in judging the sales candidates’ skills, there are some careers where preparing one for a job is itself part of the job.

A writer’s resume should be well-written and grammatically correct.

For sales reps, the CV—a job seeker’s primary marketing document—is a great way to gauge their selling abilities.

Salespeople need to have great resumes to be successful. Your resume is your primary marketing tool and it should be a great indicator of your sales skills. Make sure you sell your skills and qualifications well on your resume. Give specific examples of your successes in past jobs and describe your experiences in a way that presents you as a good fit for the firm.

A poorly written or formatted resume should immediately make you question the candidate’s attention to detail.

Test Your Salesperson’s Research Skills

Before you can tell a candidate about the company, you should first ask them why they applied for the job. A good salesperson will have done some research.

The salesperson’s answer will give you an indication of how much they know about your company and the position they applied for. Their attitude and behavior during the interview can also be telling signs of their interest in the role.

Did they have a firm handshake? Did they make eye contact throughout the interview? Did they smile? The salesperson’s answer will demonstrate how much research they did for you and your company before the interview.

Also, a candidate’s attitude and behavior can be telling. For example, did they arrive either on time or slightly early? Were they courteous and pleasant to the people they encountered like the receptionist and secretaries? Did they have a firm handshake? Did they make eye contact throughout the interview? Did they smile? All of these factors can give you insight into whether or not the salesperson would be a good fit for your company.

A salesperson’s appearance at a job interview is probably going to be the best they will look at their job.

The sales tactics that a salesperson uses on themselves are what you can expect them to use on you.

Did they listen to your needs and answer your questions or were they more interested in talking about themselves? Did they ask you questions about your needs? Did they try to understand what you are looking for?Did they make an effort to build rapport with you? Did they seem like someone you would want to do business with?

The way a salesperson sells themselves is indicative of how they will sell your product or service. If they came across as professional in their appearance and mannerisms, it is likely that they will present your company in a professional manner as well. If they made good eye contact, had an open posture, and asked questions about your needs, then they are likely to be just as attentive when selling your product. Good salespeople are able to build rapport easily and make you feel comfortable doing business with them.

Sales Interview Questions to Ask Reps

1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to start a territory from scratch? How did you approach it?

What did you do in your first 30 days of sales? What advice would you give to someone who was just starting?

Asking what someone did in their first 30 days of employment at their current company is a great way to get a conversation going.

What did you decide?

2. Have you ever had to make a decision between what was moral and what was easier? What did you choose, and why?

What did you decide to do?

Sales representatives need to be able to build trust with potential buyers. One way to do this is by demonstrating their ability to make ethical choices, even when it may be difficult.

3. What steps would you take to engage me with your company’s current offerings?

What qualities would you look for in an excellent salesperson? What do you think are the key components of a successful sales approach?

4. Why did you decide to pursue a career in selling?

(Or, why are you looking for a position in Sales?).

Some salespeople may enjoy the problem-solving, relative independence, and competitiveness of selling.

But, some job seekers might care more about the salary or – for inexperienced applicants – they might not know exactly what they’re looking for.

This question helps you figure out whether someone’s intentions are genuine.

5. Have you ever received negative feedback? How did you handle it?

What changes did you make as a result of the feedback?

Nobody is perfect, and everybody has their flaws.

As a sales manager, it’s important to me that my reps are coachable. I want to see that they are willing to accept feedback and use it to improve their performance. Can you tell me about a time when you received feedback and how you used it to improve your selling technique?

6. Can you tell me about your company?

“I don’t expect them to have all the answers, but I want to see that they did their homework,” says Ninivaggi. “If it’s clear that they didn’t do any research, then it’s a wrap.”.

A sales rep who does not do their research for interviews is probably going to skip out on doing any research for client meetings as well.

7. If you were the buyer, what would you prefer to see in a cold email?

For salespeople, it’s important to practice your communication abilities. So, for reps, here’s a short exercise for you.

This exercise is as simple as asking your interviewee to write a cold email to a potential client about a product.

8. What would you do if a customer was upset with you?

As explained by sales expert, Collen Francis, sellers must take ownership of the entire sales process from prospecting to closing deals.

If they blame their team members, a department, or their manager for a failed deal or unhappy client, it’s a clear sign that they won’t be able to deal with conflict.

9. Tell me a story about a time you missed out on a great opportunity.

Why did you lose the opportunity?

If a candidate blames their failure on someone else, they are unlikely to land a job.

Sales reps who can’t take responsibility for their mistakes are never going to reach the top 10%. Additionally, you can determine whether the rep in question is willing to be straightforward about failures, rather than trying to cover them up.

10. Can you give me an overview of your sales process?

Being organized and prepared both in general and in the moment are traits that separate the merely good from the truly great.

Sales candidates who can go into detail about their sales processes are more likely to have the same commitment when it comes to your sales team’s strategies.

When you interview a candidate for a sales position, be sure to ask questions about their organizational and time management skills. Get examples of how they stay focused and on task, both in the sales process and in email correspondence. Having a few specific scenarios related to the sales process will give you a good idea of how the candidate would handle themselves in your organization.

11. How do you build trust? Which strategies have you used in the past, and which haven’t?

Sales reps who can establish trust with their buyers have a significant advantage over those who cannot. According to a 2018 study by ValueSelling Associates, 60% of B2B buyers distrust salespeople. This means that sales reps who are able to build relationships based on emotional intelligence are at a distinct competitive advantage.

According to primer, the key to getting customers to open up to you is by first building their trust in you.

12. How do you incorporate stories into your sales process?

According to our VP of sales enablement, telling authentic stories will help you stand out from your competitors and demonstrate that you know how your “ideal” customers solve similar problems with your solutions.

End of the Interview

At the end of the interview, give them a summary of what you think the company’s goals are, what they can expect in terms compensation–the structure, a general range of benefits, travel expectations, etc. Ask them if they have any questions. There are three options for compensation: base salary, base plus or pure commission.

A salesperson who prefers a commission-only job is more confident in their selling skills. It’s a great sign if they ask at most one or two relevant, intelligent questions.

Candidates who don’t have any questions for you either didn’t bother researching your company or were too overwhelmed to think up anything clever to say — neither of these qualities are good qualities in a salesperson.

Success in sales – or any other endeavor – requires more than just one component. You need a leader with a vision and strategy, a product to address an essential need, and a team to bring it to market.

But in order to accomplish any of those goals, you first need the right employees.

With the current state of the labor market, it has become increasingly difficult to find quality sales talent. In most cases, the best sales reps are either content with their current positions or too expensive to poach from another company.

Only 3% of high-performing salespeople are actively seeking new positions.

Identifying top talent is crucial for sales teams.

Finding the right people to fill sales jobs – whether they’re external hires or internal promotions – depends on both your Ideal Candidate Profile and the skills and traits it should contain.

But having an effective sales process is equally important, if not more so.

By conducting effective interviews, you can learn more about a candidate’s skills and personality traits, as well as how they performed in previous roles. This can help you predict how they will fare in the job you’re offering.

How do you interview a salesperson?

When interviewing a salesperson, the hiring managers should ask questions that will give them insight into their selling style and ability. Some good sales job interview questions to ask include:-What is your experience in sales?-What are some of the most challenging sales environments you’ve been in?-How do you approach a potential customer?-What do you think are the key components of a successful sale?-Can you give me an example of a time when you successfully closed a deal?

What are good sales interview questions to ask a salesperson?

What are your products’ features and benefits? How do your products compare to your competitors’ products?What discounts or promotions are currently available? What is your return policy? When will this product be back in stock?

What makes a good salesperson interview?

A good salesperson interview should include questions about the candidate’s job experience, skills, and knowledge. The interviewer should also ask questions about the candidate’s motivation and ability to sell.

What should I say in a sales interview?

Some things you could say in a sales interview include discussing your experience with sales, discussing your motivation for wanting the job, and discussing any skills you have that could make you successful in sales. Additionally, it is important to be prepared to answer questions about the company’s products or services and to ask questions about the role.


If you’re looking to hire a great salesperson, keep these tips in mind. By asking the right questions when interviewing sales people, you’ll be able to weed out the good from the bad and make the best hiring decision for your company.

Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀
Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!

We have over 60,000 monthly readers that would love to see it! Contact us and let's discuss your ideas!

Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was generated for LeadFuze and attributed to Justin McGill, the Founder of LeadFuze.