Top Questions to Expect During a Sales Interview
By Indeed Editorial Team
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.
Preparing for your interview by researching the company and potential questions they may ask will help you appear more confident and prepared. Every industry will have specific questions to test your knowledge and relevant skills. If you're looking for a career in sales, you should prepare potential answers for common sales interview questions. In this article, we look at sales questions employers may ask to gauge your customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills. Prepare your own answers by reading some sample ones as well.
How to answer sales interview questions
When answering behavioural or situational interview questions during your sales interivew, it's always best to use the STAR interview response method. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. This means when you answer a behavioural or situational question, start by explaining the challenging situation you were in at the time. Then, explain the task you were doing. This allows you to explain the action you took against the challenge you were facing. Finally, end with the successful result of your action.
Following the STAR interview response method ensures that you include enough detail in your answer to show the interviewer your proven success in challenging situations. If the interviewer asks a technical question, you won't be able to follow the STAR method. Instead, just be as detailed and confident as possible to show the interviewer that you have in-depth industry knowledge.
Common sales interview questions and sample answers
Here are seven of the most common sales interview questions with sample answers to help you prepare for your next interview:
1. Why are you interested in a sales position?
Employers ask this question to better get to know you and your motivation for working in sales. Use it as an opportunity to express your enthusiasm and passion for the role. Mention industry- or company-specific reasons you're interested in sales to display your knowledge as well.
Example: "I love shopping and one thing that always makes an experience at a store great for me is the customer service. Sales associates that go out of their way to help always make my shopping trips so much easier and really brighten my day. When switching careers from finance, I realized I wanted to pursue a career in sales to help make other people feel the same way I do. I want to meet new people and help customers find exactly what they're looking for in your store."
2. What motivates you as a salesperson?
To be successful in a sales role, you should be optimistic and willing to persevere through common challenges, such as unhappy customers or lack of product. You should use this question as an opportunity to show the hiring manager you are motivated and willing to do your best at all times.
Example: "My motivation as a salesperson is seeing customers happy. I do everything I can to deliver maximum satisfaction as I want to encourage customers to come back. I also set my own professional goals, so I have something to work towards. For example, in my last role, my goal was to increase my sales by 8% by the end of the year and I did. I enjoy challenging myself and working hard to meet sales targets."
3. What has been your most successful sale to date?
This is a great opportunity to talk about your successes in your previous role. Employers want to know if they can rely on you and hearing about proven successes is a great way for them to assess that. Remember the STAR interview response method when answering this question.
Example: "I previously worked at an insurance company. We sold all types of insurance according to the customer's needs. I had one customer call in to ask about health insurance. He said it was just for him, but he wanted to consider getting it for his family later on as well. After talking about his needs, I recommended one of our insurance plans. After a few months, the customer called me back and told me how happy he was with the plan and my service, so he wanted to sign his whole family of six up. This was one of my biggest sales, and it also made me feel good knowing I made a positive impact in a customer's life."
4. What skills do you have that aid you in sales?
Every employer is looking for candidates with a specific skill set. But generally, candidates looking to obtain sales roles should have good customer service, interpersonal, problem-solving, and communication skills. Mention one or two skills you have that will aid you in a sales role and explain how.
Example: "My greatest skills are my customer service and problem-solving skills. Customer service skills are vital in a sales role and mine help me connect with customers to get to know them and their needs better. I can create a positive and welcoming space for customers that encourages them to come back. My problem-solving skills also assist with my customer service role as I can listen to a customer's problems or needs and immediately come up with a product or service recommendation that suits them."
5. Do you prefer to work as a team or independently?
People in sales generally work with a team. So, while the employer is looking for you to be honest, they ask this question to find candidates that prefer to work closely with others. Being able to work well as a team also shows that you have strong communication and interpersonal skills, both vital to a sales role. Show the employer you value teamwork and understand your role on a team by mentioning specific examples of you collaborating with your colleagues.
Example: "I prefer to work as a team as I enjoy hearing other peoples' ideas and perspectives. Working as a team is one of the best ways to solve problems and deliver excellent customer service as you can rely on an entire group of people working towards the same goals. I have worked both with small teams of less than 10 people, and larger ones of over 50, and I enjoyed both experiences. I can easily work independently when necessary, but I enjoy the camaraderie of a team."
6. How do you handle losing a sale?
You likely won't win every single sale you work towards and that's okay. Employers just want to see that you handle potential rejection well and can turn it into a learning experience. Handling losing a sale professionally shows employers you can learn from your mistakes and improve upon your skills independently.
Example: "I have lost a handful of sales in my five years as a sales associate. I don't take the loss personally, but I always aim to learn something from it. For example, a long-term client at the cell phone company I worked with wanted to end his contract. He called and explained that he found a better deal with another company. I offered him a lower rate with us, but it wasn't low enough to meet his needs. I thanked him for his service and let my supervisor know about our competitor's promotion. This situation helped me improve my negotiation skills and realize that you can't win every sale."
7. Do you think cold calling is an effective sales technique?
Employers ask this question to test your technical knowledge of common sales techniques. In this case, it's cold calling. Even if you don't have experience with cold calling, you should be able to answer this question. Be as honest as possible without being overly negative, whether you think cold calling is an effective technique or not.
Example: "I do think cold calling is an effective sales technique when it's partnered with other methods. I've onboarded a lot of my long-term clients in my previous role through cold calling, but it's time-consuming. So, I pair cold calling with upselling current customers. This way, I am onboarding new customers and ensuring my current ones get the attention they need. I'm not pushy when cold calling or upselling and customers can usually tell that, so they feel more comfortable with me. I give them the opportunity to think about any sale beforehand and get back in touch with them in a few days. I try to make these types of calls daily to increase my sales consistently."
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