Top 10 Sales Interview Questions and Answers

By Mike Simpson

There’s no question that sales job interviews (and the sales interview questions you will be asked) are some of the toughest types of interviews out there.

When you sit down with a hiring manager and start interviewing for a position in sales, you’re not just highlighting your skills and qualifications, you’re selling yourself.

At it’s most basic, sales is all about providing a solution to a client’s problem…and in the case of a job interview for a sales position, the client is the hiring company, the problem is they’ve got a position to fill, and ideally, you’d like to be the solution. That means being on top of your interview game and knowing exactly how to answer those sales interview questions.

Ok, so before we get started we wanted to let you know that there are over 100 other difficult traditional interview questions you could be asked in your job interview. Sounds stressful right? Well don’t worry, because we created a free PDF that outlines the most common questions and gives you word for word sample answers that you can use at your next interview. Click the link below to get your copy now!

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The Critical Components of Sales Interviews

The job seekers who are hired to fill sales positions are the ones who are capable of nailing three key components in a sales interview:

  • Highlighting their relevant qualifications.
  • Using those qualifications to sell themselves to the interviewer.
  • Closing the deal (getting hired!).

All three of these are critical parts of landing a sales job and require a bit of prep and some pre-strategy before the interview, starting with identifying exactly what characteristics are common to a sales interview.

Unlike other jobs where much of what you are being hired for can be highlighted in a resume through bulleted descriptions of technical skills and abilities, sales interviews require the interviewee (that’s you) to clearly demonstrate their sales skills and abilities through concrete examples and anecdotes from past work history as well as examples of how they’d behave in future situations.

When going into a sales interview, be prepared for not only traditional questions, but behavioral and situational as well.

How To Answer Sales Interview Questions

Of course, the best way to answer these questions is to prepare for them ahead of time.

At their core, almost all sales interview questions can be answered using the STAR method. We’ve covered the STAR method before, but to quickly recap, STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result and means that every answer you give an interviewer should include sales success stories and achievements from your own past.

You want to make sure you give the hiring manager the situation you were in, the task you were assigned, the action you took and the result of that action.

For example, let’s pretend the hiring manger just asked you about a time you went above and beyond to land a client:

“While working as a junior sales representative at the 123 Internet Security Company, I was tasked with trying to land the “Bubba Bop” account. I analyzed their product base and realized that the system of ours that they were interested in wasn’t exactly the right fit for them. Rather than turn them away and lose the sale, I dug a little deeper and realized while the first solution wasn’t a good fit, a combination of two other solutions we offered would provide them the protection they wanted and then some. Because of this extra research, I not only landed the account, but also landed their sister account, “Betty Bing.” Signing those two contracts netted the 123 Company the largest quarter profits ever. Both “Bubba Bop” and “Betty Bing” are still with the 123 Company and are overwhelmingly happy with the entire deal.”

Nice!

Not only did you set up the situation (junior sales representative at the 123 Internet Security Company), the task you were assigned (landing the “Bubba Bop” account), and the action you took (Did some extra digging and a little extra work) but the ultimate result of that action was a huge win (signed not only “Bubba Bop” but also “Betty Bing!”). Well done!

Here are ten of the most common sales interview questions as well as brief explanations behind why these questions are asked and an example answer.

Our Top Ten Questions And Answers for Sales Interviews

The idea here is to get you thinking about how you’d answer them so when you’re confronted with them (or any variation) in an interview you’ll have an example already in mind, helping to prevent the dreaded “deer in the headlights” feeling…or worse, a long rambling answer that ends up having nothing to do with the question that was asked.

Also keep in mind that for most of these sales interview questions, there are no right answers, just right ways to answer them.

1. Why did you choose a career in sales (or why are you interested in a sales position?)

A hiring manager wants to make sure that you’re interested in the position for the right reasons…and while it might be tempting to answer with “for the money,” make sure that’s not your only answer.

Normally we’d tell you not to use money as an answer for any question involving why you’re interested in a position, but when it comes to sales jobs, especially ones where your compensation is directly tied to how much you bring in, being motivated by money means you’ll work extra hard to close those deals.

Prepare for this question by asking yourself what it is about sales that you truly enjoy (besides just the money). Other reasons for choosing a career in sales could be the opportunity to meet new and different people, the challenges of solving problems for potential clients, the thrill of the hunt, travel, building personal relationships with clients…the list is endless.

Example Answer: “I’ve always loved meeting new people. I also enjoy problem solving and to me, sales is the perfect combination of both of those loves. When I was in high school I used to shop at a little store over by my house every weekend. While their products were incredible, they never seemed to have a lot of business and the store was always on the verge of closing. I managed to talk my way into my first job there as a sales associate and in the first week I was able to sell more than the store had sold in an entire month, and within six months the company was turning record profits. That experience just made me realize how much I loved what I was doing, and I’ve been in sales ever since.”

2. Why are you interested in working for our company?

Again, try not to make it just about the money.

A hiring manager is going to want to know specifically what it is about their company that interests you. This means making sure you’ve done your research before you go in to the interview.

A hiring manager won’t want to bring on a member of the sales team if they have no desire to sell what the company is making or the service they’re providing. Talk about how much you like what they make and demonstrate your enthusiasm for their products and/or services.

It’s also perfectly acceptable to talk about other aspects of the company that don’t involve sales that you’re interested in, including the company culture, their philanthropic activities, or anything else about them that genuinely sparks an interest in you. An employer is going to be much more willing to hire someone who is genuinely excited about the company. Just remember to make sure you include past experiences that you’ve had that are relevant to the question and the position.

Example Answer: “I’ve always felt good customer service is a critical part of any winning sales strategy and the reputation your company has for nurturing and maintaining long term client satisfaction is something that’s always impressed me. A few years ago, while working for another company I realized that while our sales numbers were solid, our client retention was another story, which is why I helped spearhead a campaign centered on long term customer satisfaction…”

For a more in-depth look into how to answer this interview question, check out our article Why Do You Want to Work Here?

3. How do you keep yourself motivated?

The perfect candidate for a sales position is one who is always motivated to close the deal and who has genuine enthusiasm for the job. An effective way to convey this is to discuss your personal style and highlight the parts of the job that really inspire you.

Example Answer: “To me there’s nothing more satisfying than pitching to a potential client and having them get just as excited about the product as I am. A few years ago, I had a client who was frustrated because he felt his problem was unsolvable. He’d already gone through a whole slew of other companies, and while each promised him they could help him, none of them had been able to. He finally turned to us as a last resort as we were still relatively new on the market and our solution was just in the final stages of development. We offered him a discount in exchange for his willingness to help pilot our product and give us honest, field tested feedback. We worked hand in hand coming up with a solution and before we knew it, not only were we solving his problem, but he’d become our biggest advocate, helping to push us into market shares we’d only dreamed of.”

For a more in-depth look into how to answer this interview question, check out our article What Motivates You?

4. How do you handle rejection?

It’s no fun, but it’s a fact that part of sales is dealing with rejection and an employer is going to need to know how you handle those bumps in the road. Are you going to curl up into a ball and shut everyone out for a few weeks while you nurse your wounded ego or are you resilient, looking at the situation as just more motivation to close the next one? An interviewer is going to want to hire someone who is ready to keep moving forward and take those rejections not as personal attacks, but as lessons to lea