12 Sales Associate Interview Questions and Answers (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 25, 2022

Published June 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A sales associate interview is an opportunity to discuss and show the hiring manager your skills, interests, and experience. Sales associates are vital because they work closely with the company's customers. It's important to prepare for your interview in advance to answer the questions thoughtfully and confidently. In this article, we discuss the common interview questions for a sales associate and provide an example of how to answer the questions.

12 common sales associate interview questions

We have compiled a list of questions that cover various aspects of a sales associate's job. The most common sales associates interview questions include the following:

1. How do you handle customer complaints?

Sales associates work with different types of customers and sometimes encounter complaints. An appropriate answer focuses on de-escalation and finding a creative solution for every case. It helps to use the STAR model to approach an aggressive client. Here's how to use the STAR model:

  • Situation: Provide a background for your story

  • Task: Explain what you need to do in the situation

  • Action: Discuss the steps you take to address such a situation

  • Result: Tell the interviewer what the outcome of the situation was

Example: "I once had a client who returned shoes that they had worn for a few days. She claimed the shoes were very uncomfortable. However, the state of the shoes would make them hard to resell. The customer started yelling and insisting that they were still new. I consulted my manager, and we helped her find a pair that fit well at a discount rather than giving a full refund. We sent the shoes back to corporate headquarters for repair, and they came back in the best shape for sale."

2. What is your sales strategy?

Hiring managers want to see if your sales strategy and approach align with the company culture. Emphasize the essential aspects of a sales interaction, such as understanding your customer needs or problems. This also helps to show that you are an active listener.

Example: "First, I always listen to understand my customers' needs. Alternatively, I initiate the conversation to be welcoming and get to discuss their needs. After that, I offer a product or support that can help fulfil the needs they've just expressed. I always encourage repeat business by making a personal connection with customers."

3. How would you describe excellent customer service?

Customer service is a critical aspect of being a sales associate. Excellent customer service results in repeat customers and an increase in sales. Your potential employer wants to understand your customer service values. In your answer, emphasize features of good customer service such as effective communication, patience, and respect.

Example: "Customer service is the commitment to acknowledge and make customers feel you value them. I understand that customers' needs are all unique, so accommodating them is part of successful sales. Customer service is also about communicating clearly, being friendly, and having empathy."

Related: Customer Service Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Have you ever surpassed customer expectations?

The question helps hiring managers evaluate whether you're a creative thinker and can go above and beyond for a customer. Your answer needs to highlight how you used an unexpected way to offer customer service or solve an issue.

Example: "I worked at a gaming store, and a customer came in looking for an old fighting game he used to play when he was a kid. He wanted to buy the game for his kid's birthday. We didn't have it at the time, but I asked him to leave his number. I found the game online, consulted my manager, and we ordered five copies. We called in the customer for a copy, and the other copies also sold out in a few weeks."

5. How versatile are your skills and competencies?

Every day is different when you work on a sales team. There could be a need to help unload a shipment, or a team member could call in sick. Therefore, you become a more desirable candidate if you show the hiring manager you can apply yourself in various areas. Specify whether you have experience with stock, as a cashier, or using a POS register. However, it's important to be honest about your skill set.

Example: "I have a lot of experience as a sales and marketing rep. My skills as a sales associate include proficiency with retail software, communication, teamwork, and language skills, as I can speak English and French. I can work in merchandising and inventory departments."

Related: 10 Sales Associate Skills and How to Improve Them

6. Are you available to work on holidays?

Businesses that need sales associates may need additional staff during overtime hours or holidays. Some companies also need sales associates with flexible schedules. The employer needs to know your availability to create a reliable and effective work schedule.

Example: "I'm available to work from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. but can pick up extra shifts on the weekends during busy periods."

7. Do you have experience setting and meeting sales quotas?

Employers usually target the number of transactions essential customers a sales associate needs to meet in a day, week or month. It helps to have experience meeting sales quotas. Your interview will see determination and ability to make efficient sales. Apart from working with the company goals, employers want candidates who motivate and set goals for themselves.

Example: "In my last job as a sales associate, the management set daily and weekly sales quotas for us. Apart from the company's minimum, I had my own goals that I worked to meet. I'm proud to say I exceeded company expectations regularly."

8. What do you know about our products or services?

It is important to research the company as part of your preparations. Employers want to gauge your level of interest in their products and company. In your answer, you can mention some of their top-selling products. You can also include a point of view as a customer if you use their products or services.

Example: “I'm familiar with your detergent soaps, and I actually use them for my laundry. They're especially effective for stains. However, I also know about your new upcoming bathing soap product. I've only tried the lavender soap, and I think you can add an unscented version for both soaps to boost sales.”

9. How would you integrate teamwork to respond to customer questions?

Sales associates need to be knowledgeable about their products and services. However, sometimes you don't have an answer to a customer's questions. Employers want associates who provide their customers with facts to help them make informed decisions. Demonstrate your ability to follow up with helpful information.

Example: "If I encounter a question I can't answer, I respond honestly to the client and reassure them that I'll make an inquiry and get back to them. If they are there with me, I'll ask a colleague or my manager to help. We can help the client together, or I can request them to leave their contact information so I can get back to them with an answer."

Related: What is Integrity? Definition and Examples

10. Do you have experience using POS systems?

Sales associates, especially in the retail industry, need to know how to operate a point-of-sale system. There are many types of devices sales associates can use to close a sale. Employers look for experience using POS systems, computer skills, and the ability to execute basic math.

Example: "I've used cash registers for the last five years of my career. I can also use Square contactless readers as part of the POS systems. I'm a fast learner, so I'm confident I could learn whichever POS system your company uses."

11. How would you sell one product to different types of customers?

Sales associates need to understand the different products that the company sells. Therefore, you need to identify what features are most relevant to a customer and emphasize them. Employers use this question to assess your strategic thinking, flexibility, and observation skills. Your answer should show your ability to understand different customers and develop various strategies to sell to make sales.

Example: “I believe I can work with people of different personalities. I worked at a clothing store in my last job, and I noticed two sets of customers. The ones who want the experience of using big brands and those who are willing to try different apparel. Therefore, I could respond better to their needs and offer them more viable choices.”

12. Is it more critical to provide quick and efficient service or take extra time serving customers?

The interviewer tests your critical and strategic thinking by presenting an operational question with two options. First, they want to try how you would manage conflicting objectives and determine your priorities. One of the best ways to answer this question is to make it situational and acknowledge the importance of both options.

Example: “Extensive customer service helps a client feel you have adequately addressed their needs. However, we need to deliver it quickly and efficiently to attend to other customers as well. Therefore, I can present various options to clients and leave them to decide as I get to know the needs of the next customer.

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