5 more tough sales job interview questions and how to answer them
Think you’re a sales star? Here’s how to prove it in your next job interview.
Mark Phillips is the managing director of HireEducation Inc., an education industry recruiting firm that interviews thousands of salespeople a year. “The toughest interview questions are the behavioral ones and the best candidates are still able to push for the question behind the questions,” he says.
Phillips shared this example: You are in a competitive selling situation. You are called in for a final meeting. When you arrive, the only parking space available is a handicapped space. Do you park there? Or are you late for the meeting?
Phillips says he once had a candidate who responded by revealing his wife had multiple sclerosis and often encountered people without appropriate permits parked in spots reserved for those with disabilities.
Phillips says the candidate said he wouldn’t take the space, even if he had the permit displayed on his car. He’d rather be late, he said, adding: “I won't sacrifice my humanity. I won't represent you as a company that way.”
Then, the candidate turned the question around: “Do you ever hire the rep who says they'll take the spot? If so, I'd like to respectfully withdraw my name from consideration, because in the same way I represent you and your company, you also represent me. I want to work with people who share the same ethical commitments that I do.”
In 2013, Monster published a popular article titled, “5 tough sales job interview questions and how to answer them.” Today, we’d like to provide a “sequel” to the piece. Hopefully, after reviewing both, you’ll have plenty of information to be ready for your next sales job interview.
More sales job interview questions you should be prepared to answer
Win or lose?
“Do you hate to lose? Or do you love to win?”
Phillips says organizations that rely on high-volume sales are a better match for people who “love to win,” while those that rely on strategic deals that require a significant resource investment into the sales process are a better fit for “hate to lose” types.
What’s your sales strategy?
“Imagine you start this Monday. We define our target market and ideal customer, give you all the product or service knowledge you need, a laptop and a phone. If we give you no other direction, what specifically will you do to develop leads, appointments and sales in your first week? First month? First quarter?”
Jeff Goldberg, a sales consultant and trainer, says this question is a favorite. Sales reps must be able to outline how they’ll develop leads.
What’s your sales process?
“You get an appointment with a decision-maker. Define your sales process from start to finish.”
Goldberg says many sales reps like to talk about their excellent presentation skills, but that’s not what closes business. “I want to hear how they’ll establish rapport, what questions they’ll ask and so on,” he says.
How do you learn from your failures?
“Tell us about a deal you’ve lost and what you learned from that experience.”
Jordan Wan, founder and CEO of CloserIQ, favors challenging questions that are designed to make candidates uncomfortable, much like a tough sales pitch. “It's difficult because it asks a candidate to reflect on a failure they've had in the past. A great answer will include a sincere anecdote about a lost deal as well as a courageous reflection of the humble lessons learned from the experience.”