Include These Questions When Interviewing Sales Candidates


You’re looking for a new sales candidate and you have the basic interview questions covered: learning their self-proclaimed list of strengths and weaknesses, and why they want to work for the company. These standard questions will give you a general sense of whether a candidate is competent and well-spoken, and you’ll gain some insight into their personality, but what you really need are incisive and efficient questions targeted to finding the best sales professionals.

The first place to look for tips is from recruitment experts who are at the top of their game. There are many reasons to use a recruitment agency and some of these include saving time, money, and getting fast results. Experts at the Sales Talent Agency (STA)have a stellar reputation with helping companies like Rogers and IBM recruit top talent. They’re one of Canada’s fastest growing companies five years running (2014-2018), and their pros have developed the best recruiting and interviewing strategies with mountains of proven results. Some of these include:


Initially listen to your gut, then move onto your head.

You’ve learned as a hiring manager that listening to your gut is important, yet you know it shouldn’t take over. According to STA, the natural time to listen to your gut is upon meeting the candidate – the first 30 minutes. Consider them the way a customer would during your initial meeting and have an open conversation. Customers don’t have access to their resume or know who referred them.

If you’re still interested after half an hour, move ontousing your analytical side.


Look at their relative sales metrics.

STA has found that only a quarter of professional salespeople are truly capable of performing at a high level. A weak candidate who, perhaps through a few favours, managed to work at a great company can coast through leeching off the brand’s overall success – at least for a little while. You need to ascertain how they performed compared to their peers to get a better picture of their actual skill level. Look for those performing in that top 25% group.


Hit them with the ‘world’s best interview question’.

If you’re looking for a good way to separate the confident charmers, who are more bark than bite, there is one question that can help cull the interview pros from the ones who actually care and will perform. STA advises to ask the candidate, “How did you prepare for this meeting with me today?”

It’s a simple question that asks for the straight truth, and if the candidate truly put in the work to research your company, they’ll be able to easily answer citing their resources, and be excited to do so!

Other great questions that are important for sales professionals include:

  • Give me an example of a time you were asked to perform a task you were unfamiliar with. How did you handle this?
  • List the top three things that matter the most to you in a job.
  • If you’re unsure of exactly how to do something, how do you go about doing it?
  • If you were to secure this job, which role would you apply to next?
  • How do you feel about competition among your coworkers?

Stay open to surprising answers and not just your ideal ones. Sales numbers and metrics are important but be sure to assess whether a candidate is a good fit for your company’s culture, their adaptability, and if they can grow with you.

Author: Ryan Yarbrough