Deconstructing The 4 Most Common Sales Interview Questions

common sales interview questions and best answers

In this article, we’ll fully breakdown the 4 most common sales interview questions, and give you the best possible answers!

Conduct Your Job Interview Like You Would The Sales Process

Whether you love it or hate it, interviews are a very important part of the hiring process. That’s why it’s so crucial that you are well prepared to properly handle any interview questions that come your way when you’re trying to get a job in tech sales.

Failure to do so will not bode well as your potential employer might worry about how you will handle objections while on the job. The way you handle the questions thrown at you during the interview could make or break your chances of getting an offer, so make sure to answer them with confidence.

Keep in mind that in a sense, the interview is very much like a sale, wherein you are the product and the company is the buyer.

Leverage this dynamic to your advantage and use the interview as a platform to showcase the various strategies and tactics you would use on the job. What better way to prove you’re the best candidate than to have the interviewer see you in action?

Below is a short list of 4 very common questions asked during many tech sales interviews. Let’s take a moment to dig deeper into each one and identify the best ways to approach them.

1. Why do you want to be in sales? 

This question is an absolute classic and one that is almost guaranteed to come up during your interview. In asking this question, the interviewer is trying to understand what your motivation is. What about sales excites you and makes you want to get out of bed every morning?

There is no one right answer to this question, but there is one thing you always need to do with your answer. Be clear and convincing.

Don’t stop with simple and vague statements like:

“I live and breathe sales” or “I’m just a natural-born salesperson”.

Provide examples that back up your claims. What have you done that demonstrates your excellent sales abilities?

Why have these events influenced your decision to pursue a career in sales? What about your character and skills make you a good fit for a career in sales as opposed to another field?

In order to ace this question, you need to leave the interviewer feeling that there will be no need to worry about your motivation should you get hired.

They need to have that sense of confidence that even if they’re not always around to see you, you’ll have the ability and the self-motivation to stay focused and continuing to perform.

2. What do you know about our company?

This question can be phrased in many different ways but ultimately the interviewer is trying to see how well prepared you are. Use this question as a springboard to demonstrate your research prowess since it’s an extremely valuable skill for any tech sales professional to have.

If the company is public you can read through their annual report or 10-K to find some golden nuggets of information like what their goals are for the year or what they foresee as being some of their biggest challenges.

If instead you’re interviewing for a private company or even a startup, there are still a wide range of resources at your disposal. Crunchbase is a great website to find information on companies, especially early tech startups. Owler is another great resource you can use to find recent news about any company.

And of course, checking the company website and doing a quick Google search for the company name is a great way to get a high-level understanding of their business. At the very least you want to have a good understanding of who their customers are and how they differ from the other competitors in the space.

Try your best to piece things you find in your research together in a way that shows off your analytical skills and ability to see the bigger picture. If you can prove you have a good understanding of the environment in which the company operates and what their current situation means from a business perspective, there will be no doubt in the interviewer’s mind that you can do the same for your prospects and have meaningful business conversations.

3. When was the last time you took a big risk that didn’t pan out?

Another one that would very similar to this would be the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question. Both of these questions require you to have a strong enough understanding of yourself to recognize what your limitations are. All of us are human and none of us are perfect but to recognize where your imperfections lie requires one to have a strong sense of self-awareness.

Being able to point out where you could improve also demonstrates your ability to be coached which is something many hiring managers like to see in their candidates. Someone who is completely stuck in their ways and unwilling to re-evaluate their approach can be extremely difficult to work with and therefore if you give the impression that you’re one of these types of candidates, the hiring manager may pass on you to save themselves from future frustrations down the line.

To prove that you are indeed someone that is coachable, think back to an experience that didn’t go as you had wanted and explain the lessons that you learned from that experience. Bonus points if you can even talk about how you continue to use those lessons to this day. By doing this you’re illustrating that you are someone who inherently focuses on self-improvement and embraces change for the better.

How this particular question differs from the ‘greatest weakness’ question is that it goes one step further by also gauging your risk tolerance and ability to take calculated risks. When listening to your experience the interviewer is trying to understand how you approach a risky situation, what you take into consideration and how you ultimately factor everything into your final decision.

Just like with question 1 on this list, there is no one right answer or approach to this question, and possibly even more so on this one because it depends greatly on the company’s and interviewer’s tolerance for risk. Whether they are risk loving or risk averse, you want to provide an example that falls as closely in line with their preferences.

Your research can sometimes provide you with a good sense of the company’s risk tolerance. Additionally, if you’re good at reading people, you can often tell by the interviewer’s body language how aggressive of a personality they have. The more aggressive they seem, the more likely they’ll have a higher tolerance for risk. If all else fails and you really just can’t get a sense of where they stand, err more on the side of higher risk. After all, you are trying to work in sales. Sales managers would rather hire someone who can take action on a well thought out scenario than the other way around, especially if the candidate has already proven that he or she is very coachable.

4. Do you have any questions for me?

Though seemingly innocuous, this question can actually be pretty loaded. The way a candidate answers this question can say a lot about their character.

A lot of the time there may be legitimate questions you have about the job that are left unanswered and this is absolutely the right time to ask those questions. However as a fair warning, it would be highly advisable to not make every question about the company’s benefits or what you stand to gain from the position. Though they may be important, try to sprinkle in some additional questions around anything that was unclear around how you’d actually do your job. In fact, you can probably get a lot of simple answers to your benefits questions by doing a little bit of research on the company’s Glassdoor profile.

That way you can ask other questions that are more relevant to the actual job at hand during the interview. What tools will you be using? What are common struggles they see with new hires coming on board? What have others before you done to succeed? Try to think more along these lines as this will convey to your interviewer that you are serious and excited about the work to be done.

This is almost always the last question asked during the interview so don’t squander the opportunity to make a great final impression. Utilize the peak-end rule to your advantage and go out with a bang to to ensure you have the highest chance of getting that job offer.

Lastly, also remember that just as much as the company is trying to evaluate your fit into their business and available role, you should also be evaluating the fit of the position to your personal preferences. Everyone is different and so if there are certain things about a job that are extremely important for you, make sure to touch on those as well. The last thing you’d want to do is hastily join an organization just for the sake of getting a new job only to find out soon after that you made the wrong decision and, even worse, may have to go through the whole job search process again because you joined the wrong company.

PS – Check out this guide for a more robust list of sales interview questions and answers, as well as the video below by Richard McMunn for another in depth look at the most common sales interview questions and the best ways to answer them:

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

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