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Sales Job Interview Questions: Guide to Getting the Position

By Keith McKinney 9 min read

There’s no doubt interviews can be daunting — it might seem like there’s never a way you can be fully prepared for what you’ll face on interview day. 

For sales roles especially, interview questions tend to cover several angles as the career involves a wide range of skills, ambition, confidence, and a growth mindset. Sales positions are often competitive, and many require industry-specific knowledge – which means more prep time spent on market research, competitive research, etc. 

It helps to prepare by thinking through the couple of days leading up to the interview, the day itself, and the post-interview process.

To make it easy, we’ve broken down the interview stages for you with advice on how to ace each one. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Before the interview
  • What to think about during the interview 
  • Common sales job interview questions and answers
  • The best practices for follow-up 

Now let’s get you that new job 🚀

Before the interview: diving into interview tips for sales jobs

Deep dive on the company

One of the best tips we can give is to research the company that you’re interviewing with. You should be prepared to spend at least a few hours scouring their website, reading articles about the company, checking out their social media sites, and learning more about the people who work there on LinkedIn. 

Familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, size, the products/services it offers, and its foundations, core values, and recent milestones/accomplishments. 

The time you spend learning more about the company itself and its values is not time wasted. Correlation is strong between people who spend time learning and those who perform best on interview day. 

Dress for success

Know what you’ll wear on the day of the interview so you aren’t scrambling to pull something together at the last minute. 

For many sales roles, planning to dress business professionally is a good move — although there are many acceptable attire options on interview day. Avoid distracting colors or accessories. While in the office or in the field, people on your team may dress business casual, but it never hurts to dress more professionally for the interview and the first day.

Come prepared!

There’s always time at the end of the interview for questions from the interviewee, so make sure you’re prepared to ask them. Come with smart questions and show them you did your research. 

And know the etiquette for the interview depending on if it’s in person or over video conference. If on Zoom, make sure to follow appropriate Zoom etiquette.

 Here are some best practices for using Zoom for interviews:

  1. Be on time. Early is great, too! Just don’t be late. This is your time to make a great first impression on the employers, and if you’re late, you risk compromising your first reputation. Plan ahead to make sure to not be late. If you’re running late, reach out to the point of contact you’ve been speaking to at the company and let them know the reason. 
  2. Test your internet connection, video, and audio prior to the interview. Make sure everything works so you don’t waste your interviewers’ time. By testing your video and audio, you’ll be prepared for a more smooth experience.
  3. Make your questions easily accessible. Make sure your questions are prepared before the interview. One way to do this is by sticking a Post-it note on your computer or a notepad in front of you during the interview.
  4. Lighting should be facing you, not behind you. Lighting plays a major role in your first impressions with your potential employer. By having good lighting in your interview, you can appear more confident and competent. Bad lighting can make you appear unprofessional and unprepared. And have a neutral background — avoid camera movement and noise distractions.

Send your resume via email ahead of time if possible, have questions from your research ready to go, and make sure to take notes. If it’s an in-person interview, make sure to have copies of your resume and a notepad to take notes.

Practice, practice, practice 

The more time you invest in practicing sample interview questions before your interview, the more confident you’ll be. Practicing with sample questions aloud will assist in your ability to provide concise but detailed responses. The more prior experience you can include within your answers, the better. 

Double-check your social media 

Anything included in your social media accounts is fair game during your interview process. Ensure that the public information you post on platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., is appropriate for a potential employer’s eye. This article provides some useful tips on managing your social media presence for employers, like “when in doubt, delete” and “take it back to the basics” by checking grammar and spelling in all of your posts to showcase attention to detail. 

What to think about during the interview 

Use the STAR method when applicable 

The STAR method is an interview technique that provides a straightforward format you can use to tell a story by laying out the Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example to provide context. Where? When?

Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it. What did you do? How? What tools did you use?

Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation. What needed to be done? Why?

Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved. What was the accomplishment, recognition, or savings? 

Be prepared for common questions

Every role interview will likely have you answering some of the most common questions. Here are a few standard interview questions for sales jobs to get started in thinking about your answers:

  1. What do you know about our company?
  2. What are your short- and mid-term career goals?
  3. What do you consider your most significant sales achievement to date?
  4. Why are you interested in this company and this sales role?
  5. How do you keep up with the latest industry trends in sales — and what are a few trends you’ve seen in the past year? 

Be yourself!

Relax. Being yourself means being on your best behavior and showing your personality. Through

staying authentic, you’ll speak more confidently and naturally and find out if you get along well with the interviewers.

Know your next steps 

During the interview, make sure to ask about the expectations for the next steps in the process. This will allow you to be prepared for either a timeline or when you will find out your applicant status.

Common sales job interview questions and answers

TELL ME ABOUT A TIME WHEN YOU RECEIVED FEEDBACK THAT STUNG OR HURT YOUR FEELINGS.

Be specific, and point out an example that showcases transparency and honesty. Also, show you’ve worked to make changes and grow in that area since receiving the feedback. For example, did you receive feedback once that you should delegate more? Share an instance of a time after receiving that feedback when you took the initiative to pass out more projects and divvy up your workload as a leader.

CAN YOU RECALL A PARTICULAR TIME WHEN YOU HAD A STRONG WIN AT WORK?

Have a number of wins in your back pocket that you can easily weave in throughout the interview to showcase all of your best work accomplishments. But for this question, pick a specific time and paint a picture of how you got to that win — what was the effort like that you had to put in to get there, how did you work with others to achieve it, and what was the result? Be specific about how the result was a big achievement for your team and helped your team excel.

WHY DID YOU APPLY FOR THIS JOB SPECIFICALLY?

Be sure you have a good answer for why this company, why now, and why this role. What about it speaks to you, and how do you see the role fitting into your career aspirations and broader career path? 

The more you can pinpoint specific reasons you think it’s a fit, the more you can feel confident you’d bring to the table what the hiring manager is looking for in the new hire.

TELL ME ABOUT A TIME WHEN YOU FELT DEMORALIZED AT WORK. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?

For this one, recall a specific time when something went wrong, and be prepared to show how you helped turn the situation around for the better. What steps did you take to come to the realization that this was the right course of action? What was the result, and were you proud of the journey you took to get there?

After the interview 

Make sure to create and send personalized emails to your interviewers. Here are a few examples that might assist you in writing your email follow-up:

Email Example #1

Dear [interviewer name],

Thank you for taking the time to interview me for the [insert position name] position. It was a pleasure meeting the team and learning more about the mission and vision of [insert company name]. I am looking forward to possibly contributing to this company and utilizing my skill sets to [specific contribution].

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

[Your name]

Email Example #2

Dear [Interviewer Name],

I would like to extend my appreciation for taking the time to interview me for the [insert position name] position at [Company]. Your insights into the goals of this company provided clarity on the position. I am confident my skills and previous experience have prepared me well for success in this role to further the company’s mission and vision.

Thank you for considering me for this exciting opportunity.

Best regards,

[Your name]

Email Example #3

Dear [Interviewer Name],

I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for interviewing with your team at [Company]. Our discussions about [specific topic] have fueled my passion for the [Insert Position name] position. I am excited about the opportunity to sharpen my skills as a [insert position name]. I look forward to the possibility of contributing to [Company]'s success.

Best regards,

[Your name]

But of course, keep it personal and tailor it to your recipient! Here are a few more tips for sending thank you note dos and don’ts — like keep it short and sweet — to make sure you make the greatest possible lasting impression on your interviewers.

Thinking through and preparing for interviews requires time and dedication to acing the interview. But with the right mindset and materials, you have everything you need right to impress your interviewers and have the offer letter in your hands in no time.

Good luck! 

Originally published Feb 12, 2024 under Explore the latest topics, updated February 12, 2024

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