Recruiting and Staffing

Hiring Wisdom: Great Interview Questions For Sales Personnel

© vladgrin - Fotolia.com

Here are three (3) great interview questions for potential sales personnel:

  1. Tell me about your sales process at your current/previous job. Don’t assume that the candidate’s sales job is similar to your sales job. This open-ended question will get the candidate talking about details of their sales experience. If you listen closely and ask pertinent follow-up questions, you’ll learn if the candidate was an order taker, a new sales hunter, or somewhere in between. You can also learn about sales cycles, product complexity, pricing, and more.
  2. Of all your work in sales, have you been more successful servicing clients or developing new business? Why? Just because a salesperson can claim to be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales doesn’t mean they have the skills to do your sales job. Someone else might have generated the initial sale and your candidate is responsible only for servicing the existing customer. Or the candidate could have made the initial sale then handed it over to someone else. This question is helpful because it requires the candidate to choose between servicing clients vs. developing new business as their stronger suit. You will then be able to ask follow-up questions about why the candidate feels they are stronger in one area and weaker in the other.
  3. Could you see yourself enjoying this job for 10 years or more? Why? Offer jobs only to candidates you believe will still work at your company in 10 years. There are no guarantees that any employee will stay on, but if you uncover reasons likely to cause a candidate to leave sooner, don’t hire that person. You shouldn’t be trying to put bodies in seats. You should be trying to hire the people who will create your future.

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.
  • Mburrall

    How could any candidate possibly answer #3 question? They haven’t started the job yet, how will they know they like it, or not in10 years?!

  • Sue Hanson

    Agree with 1. and 2. but it’s pointless asking a sales person question No. 3, or anyone else for that matter because (a) how could they know (b) sales people will typically tell you what you want to hear – that’s why they’re in sales, and (c) if you get two or three good years out of a sales person, they pay for themselves, raise the revenue, increase client numbers, then move on, it gives you a chance to employ someone even better.