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10 Questions to Ask a Sales Candidate in an Interview

Posted March 27, 2018

Interviewing sales candidates is unlike interviewing for any other role. Top-notch salespeople have a unique mix of personality characteristics and proven track records - a mix that can be hard to find.

How do you identify your next sales superstar? Start by asking these 10 questions in the interview.


Question #1: Tell me how you landed your last big client.

The first question isn’t actually a question at all; it’s a request for a story. That’s because research shows that good storytellers can make good salespeople. When someone is naturally entertaining, your clients will look forward to seeing them.

So ask “tell me” questions that give them an opportunity to share a tale of success. Is the story interesting? Does the person come across as a natural storyteller? If so, these are indications that they’ll be good at sales.


Question #2: What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you on a sales call?

This unusual question throws the candidate a curveball. It’s an opportunity to judge how they behave in an awkward situation. If they become irritated, watch out. Sales involves all kinds of awkward discussions, especially about money.

The second goal of this question is to reveal unselfconsciousness, a key personality trait of top salespeople. Bashful people struggle with sales.


Question #3: What are your latest sales numbers?

The best predictor of future sales success is previous success. Sure, your candidates might be uncomfortable sharing sales figures, or might be outright forbidden to do so by their current employer. But the goal is to see if they can think on their feet, without hesitation.


Question #4: Could I see proof of your latest sales numbers?

This question takes the previous question one step further. Many interviewers hesitate to ask for proof, but in sales it’s fair game.

Which leads to another key personality characteristic: trustworthiness. Since you can’t just ask people if they are trustworthy - because everyone says yes - asking for data allows you to judge for yourself.


Question #5: How do you follow up with clients after meetings?

A question about follow-up is important. They can’t possibly have every answer during a sales call. The best salespeople promise to follow up later with additional information, and then actually do it. So ask for examples of good follow-up with clients.


Question #6: Who’s the best salesperson you’ve ever known? Why?

Research shows that top salespeople are good at being humble and sharing the spotlight with others. A study of 1,000 of the world’s top salespeople found that they scored 91% on a scale for modesty.

Ask them to speak well of someone else. If they’re modest, it should be an easy question to answer. Narcissists have a hard time telling positive stories about other people.


Question #7: What makes you a good fit for the culture of our company?

The idea of “culture fit” is big in HR right now. That’s because a good match between candidate personality and company culture leads to better job satisfaction, employee retention, and company productivity.

Your company culture is a combination of obvious and subtle clues. It’s the vibe. A culture question is a great opportunity to clarify what your company culture is like, and gauge if it’s a good match.


Question #8: Are you tech-savvy?

Salespeople are expected to juggle all kinds of technologies, from mobile apps to order processing systems. If they’re behind the times, they’ll be a liability.

Ask for examples of how they incorporate technology into their daily lives. See if they use apps and social media sites. Look for personality traits like openness, flexibility, and curiosity about what technology your company uses.


Question #9: Are you funny?

It might seem strange to outright ask someone if they’re funny, but this weird question can elicit some very funny - and unfunny - answers. Humor is good for sales. Funny people are better at connecting with others, being memorable, and defusing stressful situations.


Question #10: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in sales?

Ask a question that reveals whether the candidate is coachable and capable of growth. As soon as they join your company, you’ll need them to start learning new things. The best salesperson is someone who is easily coachable and ready to bring your company years of future success.

Ready to find candidates with perfect personalities for sales? Connect with GoGig, the world leader in innovative, tech-infused hiring.

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