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Top 6 interview questions when hiring your next sales representative

Your sales interview questions help hire the best addition to your team.

Salespeople are an interesting breed. They have such diverse personalities but if there’s one common denominator among the ones who are most likely to excel, it’s the ones who are “Problem Solvers”. 

Your sales rep must not only know how to interact with clients and make the sale, but more importantly  be able to offer genuine solutions for customers and clients.  These skills are often overlooked, and underestimated compared to other traits like confidence. 

This is why interviewing your candidate is a make-it-or-break-it part of your hiring process. Bad hires impact overall employee productivity, resulting in lost sales revenue. In fact, in the UK, 27% of companies say a bad hire costs more than £50,000.

With the right questions, you can avoid hiring the wrong people for your team. This is crucial, considering that 89% of recruiting experts said bad sales hires lack soft skills, including:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Rapport-building
  • Empathy
  • Quick problem-solving

By taking the time to understand what you want from a salesperson, you can help your company save money and improve the production of your products or services.

So, we created our list of six great interview questions for sales positions. These questions help get applicants thinking about their answers instead of just giving generic responses.

Why sales?

More than 15 million people work in the sales industry within the US alone. That’s about 5% of the total population.

However, most people were only tempted by high incentives, bonuses, and other rewards. While it’s not wrong to dream of becoming rich, sales are also done to serve others. So, your next hire must be able to help and not only sell for their own rewards.

With this, ensure to ask the following sales interview questions:

Why do you want to be a salesperson?

What is it about sales that appeal to you? Why are you going into this profession? What motivates your decision? What’s your main goal in life?

What about selling makes you want to be in this profession? What’s the reason behind choosing this career path?

Are you motivated by money or by helping people? (Note: this isn’t necessarily bad. Just be wary of the person’s motives if they say they’re motivated by money. Sometimes people will say this to sound more exciting and interesting than something else.)

Do you want to work with clients and customers, or do you want to work with products or services?

This set of questions (and the likes) allow you to determine whether your candidate is just after money or if they see Sales with a more profound goal and intention.

What do you know about our market/industry?

This is an excellent question for candidates interested in working for your company because it gives you an idea of their knowledge about your industry. It’s a good thing to ask because if they don’t have experience in the field, they’ll need to brush up on it before starting.

Also, they probably shouldn’t be on your team if they have no idea what you do or the current climate of your market.

What do you know about our product and customers?

This is one of the fundamental sales interview questions to ask during the early interview stages that many sales managers need to pay attention to. First, you want to figure out if the person did their homework. How well do they understand your customer? They might have needed to be more informed about your customer. If that’s the case, this is your opportunity to clarify that.

Next, figure out if your customer is someone your candidate will care about. Why do they think they can communicate well with this person? Why can they influence them? Can they relate to them?

When was the last time you didn’t meet your goal and how did you deal with it?

A person who boasts about never losing a deal is either not telling the truth or not taking enough risks with their prospects.

You want to know how often the potential sales hire loses deals, but you also want to see why this deal didn’t work out. Then, finally, you want to hear them analyze themselves.

If they’re good at analyzing what happened and why the deal didn’t work out, it shows a certain level of maturity and indicates that they’ll have a good understanding of a prospect’s situation. If they have that understanding, they’ll know what needs to happen to close that deal.

They’ll know what they need to work on to improve at selling.

This is especially true if you ask them about their biggest mistakes or mistakes made in the past year (in sales). If they tell you some stories that show an unwillingness or inability to learn from those mistakes, you should be cautious about hiring them as your sales rep because they may need help to grow your business further.

When was the last time you took a significant risk and it didn’t work?

The best sales reps take risks, which you need in your company.

To hire a great sales rep, you need to see if they’re comfortable and secure in themselves. How do they respond when something doesn’t go their way? What does that tell you about how they’ll handle other situations?

An excellent way to test this is with an interview question: “What was your biggest risk when looking for a job?”

This is another question that most sales hires are unlikely to be prepared for. Yet, it will reveal if they’re comfortable and secure, two crucial ingredients for a good salesperson. In addition, you want to know if these people are risk-takers. 

If they struggle to come up with a risk they’ve taken in the last 10 years, that’s not a good sign. The risk itself doesn’t have to be related to selling. It can be anything in life. You just want to know that when this person sees an opportunity, they’ll go for it. Taking risks speaks to a killer instinct and confidence that will translate well in selling.

What was the last sales tactic you learned?

The best way to understand if your sales candidate is a good fit is in a hands-on, real-life scenario. You can do this by having the candidate present their skillset to a live interviewer.

If they can provide you with the last sales tactic you learned, you can also grasp how willing they are to learn or when was the last time they invested in their growth as a salesperson.

Their answer to this question will also show whether they are trainable. You will also determine whether they are still open to learning or not.


Head to https://thesalesmachine.com/resources/ to get FREE access to a plethora of  resources. You can also schedule a complimentary  discovery session with The Sales Machine in-house experts for an opportunity to find the right solution for your sales team. Go to   https://thesalesmachine.com/schedule-a-meeting/ to get started.