Preparing for a Sales Job Interview? Here’s What You Need to Know

Businessman gesturing to attentive audience

 
To be successful in sales, you need to be charismatic, tenacious, personable and convincing. But before you can put those traits to work as a salesperson, you’ll need to put then into practice to close the most important deal of all – selling yourself as the right person for the job. If you’re looking to land a job as a salesperson, these sales job interview tips are for you.

 

What Do Employers Want?

Employers know that the hiring, training and success of their sales people directly affects the bottom line. Because of this, extra attention is given to hiring effective salespeople who will move the company forward. A successful salesperson tends to be a goal-oriented self-starter, with the ability to handle difficult situations and build rapport with clients.

We asked a few employers in the field what other traits they are looking for in a sales hire. Here’s what they told us.

Adaptability: Sales are unpredictable, so salespeople need to be flexible and unflappable. “In sales, people are constantly pulling you in a million different directions, and you need to learn how to react without being caught off guard,” says John Vanande, Director of Operations at Direct Online Marketing.

Confidence: Confidence is probably the most important trait in an effective salesperson. “Confidence inspires trust when you’re on a sales call, and trust is a key factor into acquiring and retaining clients,” Vanande adds.

Determination: A good salesperson is indefatigable in getting what they are after, no matter how many times they hear the word no. “The sales candidate will know how to close business and importantly, ask for the business. They will kick doors down if they have to in order to get the business,” says Chris Byrne, CEO of sensorpro.net.

Passion: Energy and passion can go a long way in sales. “Even if you have no experience in sales, hiring managers look for drive, initiative, and a passion for their mission,” Recruiting Coordinator Ryan Moffat says.

Closely analyze your personality and abilities and identify what skills and traits you possess that make you a good salesperson. These are the things you are going to want to emphasize in your interview. And when the actually interview comes, be yourself.

“Never try to be what you think the company or the interviewer wants you to be, advises Mike Smith, a sales coach. “They want to see your real personality and demeanor.”

 

Before Your Sales Interview

The first step towards a successful sales interview is to come armed with a thorough knowledge of the job and company that you are interviewing for.

Knowing the company, the mission, the product and their advantage in the marketplace can help you focus your questions,” Moffat says. “Understanding the company can also help you explain why you would make a great fit.”

Learn as much as you can about the organization’s products and markets, research their activity levels on social media, check their Nasdaq rating and review blogs and other independent news to be up to date with the business.

You should basically be able to sell the company’s product or service during the interview. Also, based on your research, come up with a few questions about the company’s specific sales process that you could bring up in the interview.

“We actually look for candidates who are asking the right questions about our company as a sign that they did research and are serious,” shares Philip Lang, co-founder of TripleMint, “We like candidates who inquire about our sales training program, how we distribute leads and ask about our managers.”

As well as knowing the company, you need to know yourself. Keith Johnstone, Marketing Manager of Peak Sales Recruiting, suggests that candidates should “be ready to answer questions about their history of achieving or exceeding quota and how their past success will translate into the role they are interviewing for.”

Be sure to come armed with specific numbers and examples of your sales record to answer questions you might be asked in the interview.

 

At the Interview

On interview day, show up early, dressed to impress. Presentation is an important part of sales, so employers will be paying attention to how you present yourself.

“Like it nor not, prospects will judge you immediately on how you look and so will interviewers,” reminds Jeff Goldberg, Lead Sales Trainer at YESecenter.

In many cases, hiring managers will ask to hear your sales pitch. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your selling abilities and your knowledge of the company and its products.

“Having company knowledge, a solid sales pitch, and answers to tough industry-related questions will go a long way towards impressing the interviewer,” notes Vanande.

Make the interviewer feel listened to, as you would a potential client. By listening to your interviewer, you will be better able to pick up on their cues and provide them the information they want to hear.

“Interviewers will often guide you towards the answers they are looking for,” says Jordan Wan, founder and CEO of the sales recruiting start-up CloserIQ. “They may drop hints, state leading questions, or provide examples of what they want.”

A good salesperson knows that a job interview is another sale – you are selling yourself to the company as you would any other product or service. Show off the traits that make you a good salesperson, and be persistent. Ask for the job, demonstrate why you deserve it and close the deal.

Whether you’re new to the workforce or an experienced professional, JobHero is here to help you make the most of your career. Come to us for thousands of resume samples, job-specific cover letter samples and many more helpful career resources.