Your 7 Question Guide to Hiring Better Salespeople

A great sales team is one of the driving forces of your company, so hiring a new addition can be tricky business. Of course, a great sales rockstar is someone who believes in your product and can express that to other people enough that they will buy it. While this may seem simple, finding the right person in a pool of hundreds of candidates can leave you feeling lost. When interviewing to fill your next sales position, try asking these questions to separate the good from the great.

1. “Tell Me a Little Bit About Yourself.”

This is where you will learn if the candidate you are interviewing can sell themself. Although this question might seem like a no-brainer, it often catches candidates off guard and they stumble over their answers. Candidates should be able to pitch their skills, experiences, and overall life story just as well as they can pitch the product or service they will be selling. Good sales representatives will have approached the interview process how they approach a sale, so they should understand that selling themselves is the key.

2. “How Do You Handle Rejection?”

The ability to handle rejection and not dwell on failure is a vital skill that all successful salespeople must possess. Asking the candidate how they personally handle rejection will allow you to evaluate how successful they will be in their sales role. This ability can also be developed over time so this question can be very telling of a candidate’s level of sales experience. If they are newer to sales, they should be someone who is naturally resilient. You don’t have time for someone who will be set back every time something doesn’t go as planned.

3. “How Would You Sell a Fish Water?”

HireKeep’s CEO, Paul Murskov, asks this question because it tests an individual’s ability to use critical thinking on a whim. The proper way to answer this question would be for an individual to evaluate what the type of fish they might be selling to, what type of water the fish would be able to survive in, the size of fish, the size of their tank or habitat, etc. If an individual is able to quickly identify these factors they understand the importance of tailoring their pitch and sales method to specific people and situations.

4. “What Are Examples of Things That Are Okay and Not Okay to Mess Up On?”

This question allows you to evaluate the candidate’s emotional intelligence while learning their perspective on failure. Someone who is unrealistic about the amount of things that aren’t okay to fail at is either dishonest or will be let down. I am a firm believer that failure is a good thing (to some extent) because it allows you to grow and become better at whatever you previously failed at. Obviously it’s not okay to fail at the same thing over and over. David Priemer, VP of commercial sales at Salesforce, suggests that you ask a candidate to mentally list the daily tasks they will face in this position, then separate them into two piles based on this question. After they complete this, evaluate their answers based on your organization’s value and culture.

5. “What Motivates You to Sell?”

This question will provide you with more insight into what motivates this individual. Their answer can reveal how they will go about work once they are working on a long project. Someone who has a strong sense of what motivates them is likely to be more goal oriented and likely to work through hard or tedious times. This is the kind of person you want to hire. Ideally, this question will elicit a more personal response. Robyn Melhuish, a blogger at Monster, suggests that the deeper the candidate digs, the more selling means to them as a person. On the other hand, someone who is unmotivated will quickly burn out and end up much less productive. This can cost you and your company a lot of money.

6. If not sales, what would your ideal profession be?

Even though this question is definitely not about sales skill, it can be important when determining a culture fit. Finding out your candidate’s outside interests and dreams will tell you a lot about them. Of course, you’re not looking for someone who has all the exact same interests as everyone in the company, but someone with a few interesting hobbies and passions can be a lot of fun to work with and add something new to a sales team.

7. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

The right way answer to this question would include the candidate’s description of the challenge, explanation of why it was difficult, and solution of how they overcame it. If an individual does not follow up with how they overcame their personal hardship, they are likely the same type of person who will come to you in the future with problems but never offer any solutions. This question also reveals what an individual finds difficult in life. Hard workers should understand what a realistic level of struggle is and believe that they can handle it.

Asking the right interview questions can make your search a lot easier. The goal is to find out as much as possible about your potential salesperson without asking a million different questions. Asking from our list will leave you having more fun interviews and show you more clearly who is right for you. Try them out and hire happy!

Can you add to our list? Comment below and share your best interview questions for making a sales hire!