5 Insightful Questions to Ask Sales Candidates During Interviews
Updated: Jun 15
With quality interview questions, you should be able to gain a clearer understanding
of the factors that drive your candidate to succeed — beyond any assessments you should ask them to complete.
As part of your preparation for interviewing a sales candidate, you need a solid list of questions that you ask each one (so you can have a fair comparison among candidates). In addition to questions you develop to determine if a candidate is right for your company and the specific position, asking these five questions can bring fresh insights into the candidate’s motivations and preparedness.
What to Ask a Candidate in a Sales Interview
1. What obligations do you feel a company has to its employees?
This question, though phrasing might vary, is vital to your interview. Candidates should
be treated like customers, and as with your customers, you must sell your organization
There’s no worse feeling for a leader than picking his or her favorite prospect and finding that they do not want to work for the organization. Asking this question can help you learn how to attract new candidates to your company and learn what will motivate your candidate to perform.
2. What aspects of this job would you be passionate about?
A candidate with a genuine investment in your company will be able to tell you why the job he or she is applying for is exciting and what about it strikes their interest.
Not only that, a candidate who is prepared for the interview will have researched the business and the culture and will be able to tell you why your company excited them, not just the position itself. Looking for candidates who exemplify passion for the position will help you alleviate motivation problems in the future.
3. Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?
This is a great question for many reasons. First, the candidate can interpret the meaning of this question in many ways. Perhaps it references the worker. “Is it better to be a high-performing employee but be a little late sometimes?” Alternatively, it could reference the work itself, as in “Is it better to make your work absolutely perfect and turn it in a bit late?”
Secondly, the desired answer to this question will vary depending on the position for which the candidate is applying. If you need someone who will need to meet strict deadlines, the latter half of the question is the best answer. If you need a creative individual to complete projects with little or no pressure to meet deadlines, you would want them to agree with the first half of the question.
4. Why do you think this position is significant to the company?
Not only will this tell you whether the candidate knows the position well, it will demonstrate their knowledge of the company. A quality sales candidate will be able to tell you how the position interacts with other aspects of the business, and how the position contributes to the overall success of the company. A candidate with this knowledge will know what is expected of them and what the requirements are for success.
5. Is there a question you’ve been expecting that I did not ask?
This question gives the candidate a chance to bring something up that has not yet been addressed. This will both help you to understand the driving factors of that employee’s motivations and give them a chance to open up to you and share with you something that they feel is significant to them or the position. By allowing the candidate to reveal what is important to them, you eliminate the stress of having to provide a right or wrong answer.
Ask Insightful Questions to Get Insightful Answers
Asking thoughtful questions will help you get to know more about each candidate and keep them excited and engaged throughout the interview. Remember to keep things as relaxed as you can and let the candidate know the structure of the discussion before you begin. You’ll make the most of the interview time — and have an easier decision in the end.
Next up: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Interviewing Sales Candidates (Plus 5 Lame Questions to Stop Asking)
Asking the right questions in an interview is key to finding your next great sales hire. Get a copy of our ebook, 3 Essential Resources for Interviewing Sales Candidates, to get the outline for the perfect interview, a list of questions to ask (and ones to avoid), and a candidate evaluation form to make sure you and your team all use the same hiring metrics.