5 Things Your Sales Candidates Should Do to Ace the Interview

On paper, you’ve found the perfect sales rep. This person has all of the right experience, attended a great school, and sounds excited about the opportunity. But he still has to jump a major hurdle: the interview.

As you prepare for that sales interview, there are a million and one questions that you could ask, and a lot of great articles out there will cull down the options for you. But before you even begin creating your list of questions, think about what you you’d like to get out of it. Consider my first post and identify the qualities you’re looking for in a rep, as well as cultural fit and any deal breakers. Then, structure your interview questions around what you’re looking for.

To give you a good idea, I’ve shared some of the things that I’m looking for once I sit down to interview a potential new rep. The questions I ask might differ slightly each time, but if a candidate fulfills these qualities, I know I’ve found the right rep on paper and in person.

1. They’ve done their research.

One of the first, most fundamental litmus tests in an interview is whether or not the candidate has done her research. Not only is it a huge indication of how much they’re invested in your company, but it’s also telling of their work ethic, too. If they don’t effectively research your company, then odds are, they’re not going to research companies they’re talking with once they’re on the job.

Make sure you have a good understanding of how well they know your company in your initial interview, and schedule time for them to pitch your own product later on. Look for thoughtful details and any indication of how well they’ve combed through your marketing materials.

2. They know how to walk away.

A good salesperson knows that not every deal is going to go their way. That’s the great balancing act with sales: knowing when to invest a lot of time and resources into one deal, and knowing when to walk away from another.

Look for salespeople that aren’t just interested in selling; they’re interesting in solving problems for customers. When they can’t solve a prospect’s problem, they should know not to waste their time or yours, and walk away.

3. They stay cool.

No doubt, being in sales is an emotional roller coaster. There are extreme highs, extreme lows, and lots of stress along the way. Look for candidates that deal well with stress, and can prove their persistence. What have they done when a deal is stuck in Legal? How have they effectively closed a prolonged deal by the end of the quarter? As much as possible, look for an even-keeled sales rep.

4. They go into detail.

You’re interviewing a salesperson, which means they know how to sell themselves. But in order to cut through their charm and make sure you fully understand their sales experience, it’s important for your candidate to provide lots of details.

Ask them about the most complicated deal that they’ve ever closed and have them walk you through each step. They might say they’ve closed a big client, but it’ll quickly become apparent how much they contributed to that deal once they go into detail.

5. They’ve made mistakes.

No matter how hard you look, the perfect sales rep doesn’t exist. The important thing is finding reps that will mold to your organization, strive toward improvement, and learn from their mistakes. Ask your candidate about a deal that went wrong, and see if they’re blaming themselves or others. Great reps not only take ownership but will also have identified exactly what they can do better next time.

The bottom line:

Knowing what you want to get out of your interview before you go into it (or even start coming up with questions) will go a long way in helping you make your final decision about the candidate.

But here’s one last tip that some might forget: remember that, as you’re interviewing your rep, they’re interviewing you, too. Make sure you that they have a great experience and get a good sense of your culture so that when the interview comes to a close, and you’ve said yes, they say yes, too.

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