Sales interview questions: The 10 most common questions and how to answer them

When you are being interviewed for a sales role, the aim is to sell yourself to the interviewer – something most outside of the sales industry would view as easy for those in sales roles. This blog highlights the most common sales interview questions and how you can approach them for the best outcome.

12 mins read
I Stock 1391105410

8 months ago

Selling yourself is crucial for a sales role – especially when responding to those sales executive interview questions – because hiring managers will want you to sell yourself as you would their products.

At Reed, we have experience with thousands of candidates who are looking for a new sales career, whether they are beginners or experts in the head of sales or sales and marketing director roles – so we have an idea of what sales interview questions you will likely face and how to answer them.

This blog is also a useful resource for those in charge of sales talent acquisition who need sales interview questions ideas to find the best people, whether they are looking for sales manager interview questions, sales director interview questions, or sales executive interview questions.

Here are our top 10 sales interview questions – and how to answer them:

Sales interview questions and answers

What do you know about our company?

This is the most frequent question in a sales interview. The interviewer wants to know if sales interviewees have done their research and understood their organization before their interview.

What kind of answers should candidates give?

If you are not ready to answer this sales interview question, then the interviewer will think that you are also unprepared for making sales calls. The key to answering this question is doing your homework. Make sure you examine the company website of the business you might work for. You should also look at their social media presence – this can involve sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok, but remember that if the company is B2B-oriented, LinkedIn will probably be an important tool.

When answering sales interview questions like this one, think about what drives you and how that drive aligns with the mission statement and employee value proposition of the company you want to join.

What kind of responses should you look for as an employer?

Employers who pose this type of sales interview question should expect candidates to comprehend their business, what drives it, and how that matches their own values. Ideally, responses would contain examples of a candidate’s research, maybe a reference to some sales leaders, what they have posted on LinkedIn, and how that mirrors the company’s culture. It might also include proposals on how to enhance product sales directly to the customer through social media.

Ideally, when responding to sales job interview questions, candidates should be well-informed about your company but also go beyond that and offer constructive suggestions from their research results.

How do you feel about making cold calls?

This is one of the most common sales job interview questions, as cold calling is a vital skill for the job, especially for sales advisor interview questions. The interviewer will want to learn about your background, self-assurance, and character.

What kind of responses should candidates give?

When responding to this sales interview question, you should try and show that you are sociable and can initiate a dialogue.

If you can provide examples of when you have performed this task before, that can be very beneficial.

You could also stress how even though results may vary on a cold call; doing research on the individual and business you are contacting can be very helpful.

What responses should you look for as an employer?

Employers should seek candidates who can reply to this sales advisor interview question in a confident, friendly, and optimistic way.

The reply should always be yes, even if they have never done the task before. This is, after all, their opportunity to sell themselves.

What are your strengths as a sales representative?

This is one of the questions to ask in a sales interview that will really allow the candidates to showcase themselves. It’s an opportunity for interviewees to discuss the main aspects of their previous achievements and how they relate to this new role.

What kind of responses should candidates give?

When responding to this sales interview question, candidates should not only praise the work they have done before but describe what abilities and traits they have that have enabled them to accomplish their objectives.

If you did hundreds of cold calls a day to reach your goals, then brag about it.

If you created a smart email campaign to target specific people, then this sales job interview question will let you explain how and why you did it – and how your strategies can work again for your potential employer.

What responses should you look for as an employer?

Hiring managers should seek candidates who can sell themselves and demonstrate how they have excelled in the past, especially if they are asking sales executive interview questions.

Realistically candidates should mention how they have a passion for solving problems, can be empathetic when talking to prospective customers, and know how to seal a deal.

The past can indicate the future, and if you are a hiring manager asking this sales interview question you will get a sense of how candidates perform and how they are likely to tackle and meet your organization’s sales targets.

What drives you?

When it comes to questions to ask in a sales interview, in this case hiring managers want to understand what motivates a candidate – why do you want to work in sales, what about this job and our company excites you?

What kind of responses should candidates give?

Candidates should try to align their responses to the goals of the company they want to join. Of course, salary and bonus are going to be significant motivational factors, but it is important to expand any answer beyond that.

A good answer to sales interview questions like this would be to emphasize how you exceed your quota and aim to improve your personal best results.

What responses should you look for as an employer?

As an employer, with such sales interview questions and answers, you should seek candidates who can explain why they are enthusiastic and driven.

In response to this question, you will need to ensure that interviewees are being truthful and genuine and can come up with two to four things that are really important to them in a work environment.

This answer shouldn’t be about money, it may be a minor factor, but candidates should talk about topics such as their career goals, diversity, company culture, work environment, targets, personal motivators, and teammates.

What are you looking for in your next job?

Sales interview questions – whether they are for sales executive or sales advisor positions, are often similar to those you will face at most job interviews – and this question is a good example of that.

Interviewers ask this as they want to ensure you are a great fit for their company.

What kind of responses should candidates give?

Candidates responding to such sales job interview questions, should use their understanding of the company they are applying to along with their own interests when answering this question. If you are asked this sales interview question, you could mention workplace culture, tools that are provided by that company or management styles.

You may also want to think about addressing the hiring company’s standards, goals or work environment in your response.

What responses should you look for as an employer?

As the interviewer for a sales role by asking this question you will be looking for insight into your potential employee’s reasoning behind leaving their current role and their hopes and ambitions for the future.

In response to this question, you should look for clear responses – everyone knows what they want – whether that be more job satisfaction, more learning opportunities, or a cooperative team culture. From your interviewee’s response, you should be able to determine whether they are a good match for your business and how they can add a new dimension to your team.

What do you dislike about sales?

This is a sales interview question that will challenge those applying for both sales representative and sales executive roles. Along with questions to ask in a sales interview such as describing your weaknesses, or how you have solved a conflict at work, this can really make a candidate think.

What kind of responses should candidates give?

Anyone who is asked a sales interview question about what they dislike in sales should be honest and candid in their answer – but be sure to balance the negatives by talking about what you enjoy about the job.

There are positives and negatives in every role and field, so being honest is important, but this is another chance to talk about why you applied for the position.

What responses should you look for as an employer?

We all know that sales can be a high-pressure industry – this may be a common theme in response to this question. However, hopefully, your interviewee will emphasize how they cope well with pressure.

In response to this question, you need to look for your candidate to discuss both sides of the issue. Mentioning their negative answer but offsetting the answer with more positives. Obviously, anyone who tells you why they simply don’t like the sector may want to consider changing their career path.

What are you seeking in your next role?

This is a very typical sales advisor interview question that aims to find out if the candidate has a positive, proactive attitude. Hiring managers are looking for people with a growth mindset, who can really contribute to their team.

What kind of responses should candidates give?

For people responding to such sales interview questions, it is important not to dwell too much on what is wrong with your current job. Instead, focus on what you have gained from it and how you are now eager to advance.

What responses should you look for as an employer?

Interviewers want to hear from someone who is focused on the opportunity in front of them – what they can offer to the role and how that will benefit the company, and vice-versa. A hiring manager would want candidates to talk about how they are looking for a new challenge or adventure, and where they can apply the skills they acquired at their current employer to achieve goals for the potential new one.

You should pay close attention to your interviewee’s response looking for signs of trouble in their last position – are they leaving because they had a bad relationship with their manager, or are they looking to work for you because you pay more? If their answer is based on dissatisfaction in their last role, you may want to explore this further, to ensure they are going to be happy working as part of your team.

Hopefully, your interviewee will also give you insight into what most attracted them to your job role – they may have applied because they saw something unique or appealing about your company, This has the potential to give you insight into how effective your talent acquisition strategy is.

Tell me about a time you achieved or were proud of yourself?

When it comes to sales interview questions and answers, you can’t go wrong with this classic. Interviewers ask this sales job interview question as they want to understand your drive to succeed – and what your greatest accomplishments are.

What kind of responses should candidates give?

Candidates should first describe the situation they were in and any problems that needed to be solved, before going on to say what they were assigned and what their objectives were. The next step to answer this sales interview question is to talk about what action you took.

Do this step by step and explain why you did what you did at each stage. It is, of course, essential to then say what the result was.

What responses should you look for as an employer?

Hiring managers should expect candidates to remember that they are interviewing for a sales role, so any answer should be relevant to that sector. You will want to look out for a time when a candidate was determined, and reaped rewards as a result of their actions. If an interviewee has data to support what they are saying this will help provide a close to perfect answer.

How would your coworkers describe you?

This sales interview question reveals how well a candidate can assess themselves, and also gives hiring managers a sense of how they would fit in with their organization’s culture and existing team members.

What kind of responses should candidates give?

A good response would see you showcase your abilities and positivity, by talking about how coworkers always praise your perseverance or how goal-driven you are. It is also important to stress how you enjoy the company of your colleagues, how you collaborate well with others as part of a team, and that you enjoy working in a positive and friendly environment.

What responses should you look for as an employer?

When answering this sales jobs interview question, employers will want to hear how someone will adapt to their culture, and how they can adjust to the environment around them. Being part of a team and getting along with other team members is essential.

How did you close your biggest sale?

This question is likely to come up whether you are asking sales executive interview questions, sales director interview questions or sales manager interview questions. This is another opportunity for interviewees for sales roles to sell themselves and talk about how the work they have done has led to tangible success.

What kind of responses should candidates give?

Sales interview questions like this are testing you for examples of your sales achievements. A good response could include details of how you worked with a customer who was unsure about making a purchase and how you convinced them to do so.

What responses should you expect as an employer?

This sales interview question is asking for a concrete example of success, supported by data and information as to how the outcome was achieved. It is a great chance to discover the true skills and knowledge of the person you are interviewing.

Reed has a proven track record in finding sales professionals who boost company performance, as well as the experience and expertise to help sales professionals take their next career step. Contact one of our specialists today.​

You may also be interested in...

Hiring fraud: how to safeguard your organisation
6 mins read

Hiring fraud: how to safeguard your organisation

To combat the rising tide of hiring fraud, Reed Screening recently joined forces with the Better Hiring Institute and fraud prevention experts Cifas and ST Smith, to launch guidance for employers. This free, comprehensive eBook is now available to download and provides the latest insight into the gravity and scale of threat facing organisations today.

Complete with case studies highlighting common criminal activity, such as resume fraud and employment scams, the guidance offers solutions to counter these tech-based crimes, helping to protect your recruitment teams from falling victim to imposters and impersonators.

We spoke to Keith Rosser, Director of Group Risk & Reed Screening – Reed, about the new guide, Tackling hiring fraud: the response to a growing problem.