Recruitment specialist in HR, Sales and Operations

7 Top Questions to Ask in Sales Interviews

Do you have interviews on the horizon to grow your sales team? Are you looking for ideas around interview format and questioning?  Asking the right questions is paramount in the relatively short period of time you have to make an assessment as to whether you have found your next hire.  We have have heard some brilliant questions this year so we thought we would share what we consider to be 7 of the best.  We’ll also give you an insight into why we think they are so good:


“What do you consider to be your top 3 sales skills?”

An obvious question at first glance but consider it further in terms of likely answers.  Commonly, the sales applicant will respond to this question with personal characteristics.  This can therefore answer an immediate question about the individuals level of sales training, but it also gives the interviewer the chance to challenge the answer and ask again for sales skills. Through this line of questioning, the individuals listening skills and how they react under pressure will also become evident.  A question which can open up a lot of avenues, depending on the answer you get in the first instance.


Leading on from the above, “If they are your top 3 sales skills, which one would you remove if you had to?”

Again, a simple question when spoken but revealing none-the-less.  The response will provide an instant feeling for whether this person can think on their feet as we don’t often think about the things we shouldn’t be doing! It will also reveal those skills they deem most important allowing you to understand whether there are synergies between their approach and your requirements.


“How do you deliver bad news to a customer or client?”

Two insights are revealed in asking this question – how good a person is at listening and how they approach a difficult situation. The latter is obvious but regarding listening – the key consideration is whether they have heard the “how” do you deliver bad news. Great listeners will realise that this an opportunity to say how (and the right answer is verbally, face to face or at least on the phone rather than hiding behind an e-mail).  A skilled interviewee may then go on to describe tactics that they have employed to lighten the blow and present a solution. A great question that allows someone to really shine if they are talented.


“What actions have you taken to self-develop?”

Little explanation is required here to support why this is a good question – if an applicant does not have anything to say and can’t provide examples, it could indicate that they have fallen into sales and I would then be considering how passionate they are about the role in question.  In my experience, most talented sales professionals will have an interest in how they can become better be that through training, reading, or attending events.


“If you started a company tomorrow, consider what it would be and pitch it to me?”

Used by an owner of a business that we supported to recruit a Sales Manager. A great question, firstly because it was perfect for their situation (with performance and service the company would offer equity and a board position, they wanted to find entrepreneurial flair). Secondly, it gave them an insight into how they would pitch.


“What is great sales and account management to you?”

I like the openness of this question.  It provides a platform for an applicant to demonstrate their training and appreciation of sales as an art whilst also providing the opportunity for them to potentially differentiate new business and account management and demonstrate their skills accordingly.


“What are your preferred questions to ask a potential client / prospect?”

Great sales people are great listeners and they should ask great questions!  Full-stop.


If you’ve clicked through to read this article, I hope that you’ve found it useful.  If you feel you can add to this list, we’d love to hear from you – sharing knowledge can only result in positive outcomes!


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