Top 20 interview questions to ask when hiring sales reps (+5 bonus tips)

By Melanie Taube • March, 2020 • 4 mins

interview questions when hiring sales reps

Hiring sales reps can be a tricky endeavor. After all, they are salespeople selling themselves. You’re looking for successful sales rep hires that will ramp up quickly to qualifying leads, crush their quotas, and build lasting relationships with clients for your company. So how do you make sure you’re getting the right information out of interviews? Ask these questions when hiring sales reps to build a successful, profitable sales team.

Tips to keep in mind when interviewing potential sales hires:

  1. Dig at least three levels deeper than the answer they give by asking what, how, tell me more. This will get you to the real, juicy answers.
  2. Take note of their communication and enthusiasm every step: over email, on the phone, and in person.
  3. Interrupt the candidate at some point, and listen to how they respond.
  4. Test how they take feedback. Offer constructive criticism to something they said or did, and see how they respond.
  5. One of the most effective activities for hiring sales reps is having them run through role-playing exercises and putting their skills to the test, on the spot.

Interview format for hiring sales reps

Step 1: 30-minute phone screen
Don’t waste your time with unqualified people.

Being a personable communicator over the phone is a basic qualification for a career in sales.

If they shine on the call, you might consider sending a brief testing exercise before scheduling them for in-person interviews with your sales team like drafting a cold outreach email or coming up with a cold call script. This will help gauge their interest and enthusiasm for the role and your company.

Step 2: Onsite interview with sales team members
Have them meet with a peer, senior peer, and potential direct sales manager. If they are interviewing for a role requiring more experience, meeting with a senior executive might also be necessary.

When you meet in person, have them demonstrate their skills through exercises like a mock call or a mock demo.

Here’s a convenient list of interview questions for sales reps.

Ask an entry-level sales hire:

  1. Why are you interested in sales?
  2. What scares you about being a sales rep?
  3. What keeps you going when you’re having a bad day?
  4. How do you keep a smile on your face when you’re having a tough day?
  5. What motivates you more, money or praise?
  6. What do you need to be successful?
  7. Tell me about a time you persuaded someone to change their mind.
  8. Tell me about a time you were persuaded to change your mind.
  9. What’s something you’ve taught yourself recently?
  10. Teach me something.
  11. Sell me something.
  12. Tell me about a person or event that has impacted you.
  13. What’s your proudest achievement?
  14. Tell me about a time you were disappointed with yourself.
  15. What are your career goals?
  16. What are you really, really good at?
  17. What do you struggle with?
  18. What are you not interested in?
  19. Tell me about someone who’s had a positive influence on you.
  20. Tell me about someone who’s had a negative influence on you.

Ask an experienced sales hire:

  1. What were you hired to do?
  2. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  3. What results were achieved in terms of successes and accomplishments?
  4. What were some of your mistakes at your previous job?
  5. Why did you leave your previous job?
  6. What would your former boss say were your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  7. What would your team say were your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  8. Tell me about the team you inherited.
  9. Tell me about a time you refused to sell to someone.
  10. What traits did your best sales manager have?
  11. How have you stacked up to your peers in past performance?
  12. What was your most painful sale lost?
  13. What was your greatest sales win?
  14. What’s the most creative way you’ve closed a deal?
  15. Who’s your favorite client?
  16. What is your favorite part of the sales process?
  17. What is your objection handling philosophy?
  18. How does your sales performance this year compare to last year?
  19. How did your sales performance compare to your plan?
  20. What’s worse, not making quota or not having happy customers?

To answer that last one, for QuotaPath it’s always happy customers! We’re here to help you and your team crush sales goals. Use QuotaPath to assist in ramping up your sales hires, align your team to their quota, and clarifying goals, and compensation plans. It’s a win-win-win situation and it’s free to get started.

Updated on March, 2020

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