Advice on four critical sales interview questions

Woman hand desk office

So you know that sales is the job for you, but you need some help getting your career started. In such a social profession, confidence in the interview can be the difference between “Thank you for your time” and “When can you start?” One path to confidence is thorough preparation. Below are four of the most common (but important) interview questions you may face.

Sell me this pen.

It might have made a great scene in The Wolf of Wall Street, but the simple “supply and demand” approach preached by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character isn’t helpful in real life. In fact, the non-fictional Jordan Belfort advises starting by gathering information about the prospect (i.e. the interviewer), responding to that information, and moving from there to the problems the pen (or apple, or stapler, or whatever else it may be) will solve for your “prospect.”

What do you know about this company/industry?

This question is your chance to show off how much research you’ve done in preparation for your interview. Be specific about company/market features that interest you, and if possible mention recent developments. Vagueness implies being uninformed. If you have experience in a similar industry, it can also be worked in here.

What motivates you as a salesperson?

Commission-based sales is one of the few jobs where “money” is an acceptable answer, but have more meaningful responses ready to go with it. It’s a good bet to tailor your motivations to the industry you’re trying to work in by showing interest in the product you will be selling.

What do you dislike about sales?

A good way to handle this one is to answer in a way that emphasizes your enthusiasm or skills in another part of the sales process. “Having to walk away from a prospect who could use our solution” is a classic answer that shows persistence. “Not getting the chance to personally connect with some prospects” is another good one that demonstrates the capability to empathize with clients.

Many of the world’s greatest securities traders, real-estate magnates, and lobbyists started with an entry-level sales interview at some point. If you want to follow in the footsteps of successful salespeople, you’ve got to start strong. These practice tips could give you the edge you need to sell yourself to your potential employer— and to close the deal.

If you’re having trouble choosing between sales jobs, or you’re tired of spamming out your resume in search of random interviews, check out Oppty. We match sales talent to hiring companies based on personality and culture factors, so that you can find a sales job where you feel comfortable enough to unlock your full potential.