Article | 42 min read

The 65 best sales interview questions and answers for sales reps

Finding the perfect fit is all about asking the right sales interview questions and knowing what to look for in the answers.

By Donny Kelwig, Contributing Writer

Published July 23, 2019
Last updated November 18, 2022

A one-of-a kind business with an unbeatable product can’t succeed on its own—that’s where sales reps come in. Salespeople do more than draw in customers; they also represent your business. So, while you need reps who can meet their quota, the right sales interview questions will highlight candidates who go above and beyond in sales interactions.

After sifting through resumes and cover letters, learning a candidate’s personality from just a 30-minute interview may feel like a tall order. To help you pick the best candidate, we’ve put together a list of the best sales interview questions.

Under each question, we’ve also included a list of green, red, and yellow flags to watch for. Green flags indicate a great answer, yellow flags warrant a follow-up question or clarification, and red flags may point to an unfit candidate. Read on to see how your candidates should stack up.

General signs to look out for during a sales rep interview:

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Personable
  • Comfortable
  • Enthusiastic
  • No eye contact
  • Shaky answers
  • Lack of potential for growth
  • Interrupting
  • Disparaging remarks
  • Defensiveness

Sales representative interview questions

The following questions address the foundational skills a sales rep needs to succeed. Bear in mind that a strong candidate doesn’t need a perfect answer for every question. Instead, use these questions to see where the interviewee’s strengths and weaknesses lie. From there, you can decide if they’re a good fit.

1. Can you walk us through your resume from start to finish?

Great for: Getting a general overview of the candidate and their demeanor

They know you’ve read their resume. This question isn’t about learning what’s on the paper—it’s about evaluating your candidate’s sales presentation style, poise, and communication skills. You can also get a sense of how they sell themselves. Do they seem proud of their accomplishments? Confident in their abilities?

Salespeople must be extremely comfortable giving presentations, so pay attention to the applicant’s body language and level of confidence when speaking.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Natural storyteller
  • Presence of concrete numbers and hard facts
  • Closed body language
  • Too much jargon
  • Lies about background and skills
  • Too little experience

2. How would you describe the last product you sold?

sales interview questions, reading book

Great for: Showing how the rep describes a product they know well

This is one of the most common interview questions for sales reps. It’s an opportunity for them to describe a product they know inside and out. Enthusiasm, in-depth knowledge, and examples of use cases point to someone who can sell your product.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Enthusiasm and passion
  • Lists customer pain points
  • Explains why the product is valuable to customers
  • Only describes features
  • Focuses on objective selling points over an emotional connection
  • Unenthusiastic tone
  • Don’t describe why a customer would want it

3. What books, blogs, or podcasts do you follow to educate yourself outside of work?

Great for: Demonstrating a commitment to learning and growth

With this question, you can uncover what content the candidate consumes to refine their sales skills. Ask them to share key takeaways from the materials they’ve read. When interviewing sales managers, also ask about leadership resources to gauge how invested they are in developing themselves as supervisors.

If the candidate can’t name any specific sales resources or publications, ask if they can offer details on other ways they’re trying to improve and grow. Maybe they recently completed a social selling course on LinkedIn, or perhaps they attend sales conferences every year. The point is to see if the candidate is committed to personal development—a strong indicator of a top-performing employee.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Curiosity and open-mindedness
  • Recommends specific sources
  • Signs of some (but not much) growth
  • No signs of outside development
  • Doesn’t acknowledge the need to learn more

4. How do you stay informed about your target market?

Great for: Understanding how they keep up with trends and changing demand

As a sales agent, knowing who you’re selling to is as important as knowing what you’re selling. But customer habits and preferences are continually changing, so agents need to have strong research skills.

This question helps you assess whether the candidate can learn about their target market quickly and will regularly investigate evolving sales trends. An ideal candidate will mention efforts to stay ahead of the curve, such as reading sales newsletters and articles from reputable publications. They’ll also mention following sales influencers on social media and learning from conversations with other salespeople.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • References up-to-date data
  • Knows the current influencers and conversations
  • Knows general trends but not many specifics
  • Presents recent but not cutting-edge information
  • Not aware of any current trends
  • Cites incorrect information

5. What do you do when the lead volume is low?

Great for: Identifying the candidate as proactive or reactive

When the going gets tough, proactive salespeople keep selling. Listen for actionable lead generation tactics such as sending outbound emails, cold calling, networking at events, social selling, or answering questions on forums like Quora.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Shows tenacity
  • Provides actionable strategies
  • Persists through low lead volume by doubling down on the same strategies
  • Treats low lead volume like an unsolvable problem

6. How do you prioritize your time at work?

clock

Great for: Showing the candidate’s thought process behind their work

This is an especially valuable question when hiring salespeople—every workday involves juggling different prospects, qualifying leads, scheduling meetings, and dozens of other tasks. Knowing how to create order out of chaotic to-do lists is the only path to success.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Understands time sensitivity
  • Differentiates between the various parts of the sales process
  • Knows their job functions and prioritizes high-volume, high-impact tasks (like returning emails and calls)
  • Treats most tasks with the same level of urgency
  • Understands some of their priorities
  • Doesn’t understand their priorities
  • Leaves the most critical tasks on the back burner

7. How would you describe your sales process?

Great for: Getting an idea of the candidate’s workflow and seeing if it fits with your team

No two sales reps approach a prospect from the same angle. When the candidate describes their sales process, assess if it fits your product or service. But even if it doesn’t, detailed responses can show how dedicated and disciplined the candidate is.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Explains a step-by-step process
  • Mentions customer relationship management after the sale
  • Describes the general process
  • Their process is somewhat applicable to your team
  • Improvizes their way through each sale with no process

8. How do you collaborate with other salespeople?

Great for: Learning about their approach to teamwork and collaboration

In today’s market, sales reps rarely work alone. A great pitch will get you far, but you want to ensure your candidate can work well within your company’s infrastructure. Ideally, they can even fill a gap on your sales team, accommodating your current reps’ strengths.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Stays open to cooperation
  • Enthusiastic about learning from others
  • Doesn’t love collaboration but is open to it
  • Unwillingness to cooperate
  • Mistreats or talks down to other sales reps

9. How do you collaborate with people outside the sales department?

Great for: Determining if the candidate is an autonomous worker or has a track record of collaboration

This question shows how the candidate feels about and works with their colleagues. For example, a strong candidate may describe how they worked with marketing to create sales enablement materials. Or, they might mention collaborating with sales support staff to discover upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Cross-functionality
  • Works well with others
  • Is open to learning from other departments
  • Doesn’t want to work with anyone outside the sales department

10. How did you make your first $10?

Great for: Learning if the candidate has always had an interest in sales (or sales-adjacent activities)

This question addresses the core qualities of your candidate. Do they seem proactive and self-motivated? Are they highly competitive and ready to take risks? Listen to the answer closely to determine whether they have traits of successful salespeople.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Demonstrates a lifelong enthusiasm for sales
  • Tells an engaging story
  • Ties their actions into emotions
  • Answers the question but doesn’t provide much insight
  • Alludes to core motivations without offering much detail
  • Tells you they don’t know
  • Doesn’t understand why this is relevant

11. What will you do in your first month if we hire you?

person with laptop

Great for: Seeing how the candidate can go above and beyond

No candidate can predict the future. However, sales reps always come prepared with a plan. They should demonstrate baseline knowledge of the position, the company, and the role’s demands. They should also show a willingness to adapt.

Even if they don’t know the specifics of your onboarding and training experience, they can at least build off your sales rep job description. While they won’t be able to hit the ground running immediately, it helps to know they have a plan to get there sooner rather than later.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Makes promises that build off the job description
  • Acknowledges they have a lot to learn
  • Presents creative and unexpected ideas
  • Makes non-committal claims
  • Understands the job description but hasn’t thought deeply about the role
  • Makes unrealistic promises
  • Is unwilling to adapt or change their approach

12. What’s your experience and comfort level with sales technology?

Great for: Gauging how their sales performance ties into technology

This question allows you to assess the candidate’s feelings about sales tech and their willingness to adopt a new tool. A good answer will include mentions of a sales CRM like Zendesk Sell. The candidate should also provide details about how they use tools to improve their workflow.

Of course, your company’s responsibility is to find intuitive technology that your team can learn without getting stressed out or frustrated. Many SaaS providers design their interfaces specifically to be easy to adapt, so even sales reps without a firm grasp of technology can still make good use of their software.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Leverages automation to nurture leads
  • Familiar with lead scoring
  • Reads customer feedback on survey platforms
  • Provides some details on how technology influences their workflow
  • Willing to learn more about sales tech
  • Unfamiliar with sales technology and unwilling to lean

13. How do you decide if a prospect is right for your product?

Great for: Understanding how they approach and evaluate leads

Finding the right prospect is half the battle in sales. This question reveals how well candidates find and vet leads. The better they are at this process, the less time they’ll waste on the wrong prospects. This is one of the most common outside sales interview questions because the role may involve meeting with prospects outside their normal environment.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Lists criteria
  • Shows off lead generation skills
  • Provides some details on how technology influences their workflow
  • Says they know a good lead when they see it
  • Doesn’t vet prospects before reaching out

14. If you lose a prospect, do you follow up with them later?

Great for: Evaluating whether the candidate has enough tenacity

Very few sales reps will make a sale on first contact. Most of the time, it will take multiple pitches before a prospect says yes. As a result, good salespeople need persistence. This situational interview question for sales reveals a lot about the candidate’s overall philosophy.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Respects nos while keeping someone in mind
  • Loops back to uninterested prospects after an appropriate amount of time
  • Follows up with uninterested prospects too quickly or after too long
  • Selectively reaches out
  • Takes no as a final answer the first time
  • Refuses to ever take no for an answer

15. Which is better: Closing a small but guaranteed deal, or pitching a large but unlikely deal?

Great for: Gaining insight into the candidate’s sales philosophy

Like many others, this sales interview question doesn’t have a correct answer. Instead, the response outlines a rep’s sales priorities. And if your business centers around a sales model the candidate doesn’t prefer, you can discuss that upfront.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Outlines clear sales priorities
  • Their preferred sale model matches yours
  • Offers general preferences
  • Says it depends on the context
  • Only expresses interest in one type of deal

16. What sales metrics matter the most to you?

Great for: Assessing their understanding of key sales metrics and their value

Conversions are a great place to start, but they aren’t the only KPI worth monitoring. Look for a combination of general and specific metrics that reveal the rep’s knowledge about the comprehensive sales process. Churn rate, acquisition cost, lifetime value, and sales cycle length are a few noteworthy examples.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Explains what each metric means and why it matters
  • Values more than one metric
  • Combines metrics to paint a full picture
  • Measures success with only a couple of metrics
  • Explains each metric’s general meaning
  • Doesn’t understand important metrics
  • Reduces success to one metric

17. What’s your greatest strength and weakness?

Great for: Gauging their ability to self-assess and learning more about them

Sales reps need an accurate picture of their strengths and weaknesses. Not only is self-awareness valuable for sales success, but it also shows their commitment to developing their skills over time.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Answers honestly
  • Finds ways to balance weaknesses
  • Stays humble about strengths
  • Gives a general, imprecise answer
  • Pays more attention to strengths or weaknesses
  • Overinflates strengths
  • Ignores weaknesses
  • Responds defensively

18. What’s more important: Maintaining customer relationships or finding new clients?

sales interview questions, 2 people with laptop

Great for: Determining how they walk this balancing act and if their approach matches your model

You don’t want reps to give an immediate answer for one option or the other. Talented sales reps need to balance both, so get a sense of how they juggle old clients and new ones. If they say that one comes at the expense of the other, they may not be the right candidate.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Sees the importance of both
  • Presents a strategy for doing both
  • Prefers one to the other
  • Tries but sometimes fails to balance both
  • Believes only one metric matters
  • Doesn’t believe you can do both

19. How do you approach short sales cycles as opposed to long sales cycles?

Great for: Getting a better sense of their sales strategy

Sales reps generally rush to close short cycles and take a long, personally tailored approach on long cycles. Evaluate how the candidate approaches each of these strategies and see where they put their spin on it. You should also learn their preference between long and short cycles if they have one.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Expresses a preference and explains why
  • Compares how each affects their sales strategy
  • Provides a unique spin on each strategy
  • Slightly modifies their approach for each sale type
  • Understands some of the differences between them
  • Only describes generalities
  • Treats them the same way

20. What tools do you need to succeed in sales?

Great for: Learning how the candidate can thrive.

A sales rep’s success can come down to more than sheer talent. Sometimes, the right tools or strategies enable a rep to go above and beyond. Ask this question to find out if you can provide the tools a candidate needs to thrive.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Explains the resources they need and why they’re useful
  • Demonstrates a willingness to try new tools and strategies
  • Doesn’t know much about the resources available to them
  • Refuses to use any tools that would improve their performance

21. How do you respond to criticism or rejection from customers?

Great for: Testing a candidate’s humility and response to critiques

Sales reps are accountable to their prospects. So if someone they’re selling to has feedback or a sales objection, the representative must be receptive to it. Ideally, this question will reveal the candidate’s process for incorporating customer feedback.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Takes criticism in stride
  • Learns from their mistakes
  • Criticism bothers them
  • They can learn from their mistakes over time
  • Responds defensively
  • Says they ignore all feedback

22. How do you research prospects before a call?

Great for: Getting more insight into their outreach process

A resourceful sales rep is a successful sales rep. Your candidate should pull information from a variety of sources. Ensure they’re comfortable hunting for details on LinkedIn and the prospect’s company website. Additionally, they should adjust their normal sales script to match the personality and interests of their prospect.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Draws information from multiple sources
  • Generates personal questions based on research
  • Gathers information from a few sources
  • Prepares somewhat personalized questions
  • Doesn’t research prospects
  • Doesn’t personalize their sales script

23. When should you stop trying to sell to a prospect?

Great for: Seeing how candidates identify a sales dead end

While tenacious reps get the most sales, not every prospect is worth their time. Salespeople need to identify candidates who aren’t a good fit for your product or service. Get a sense of how they assess these prospects and see if they’re paying attention to the right factors.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Knows the right prospect qualifications
  • Persistent through initial pushback
  • Stops when a prospect is a dead end
  • Shows some persistence
  • Wants to learn more about vetting prospects
  • Refuses to stop trying
  • Stops at the first sign of adversity

24. What’s the first step in building relationships with prospects?

sales interview questions, person at desk

Great for: Learning how the candidate approaches the sales process

Sales reps only get one first impression, and it can dictate whether they’ll eventually make a sale. Look for candidates who pass on emails and try to speak to prospects in real-time during the first interaction. You should also prioritize reps who do preliminary research.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Ensures first contact is through a conversation, not email
  • Performs preliminary research
  • Too familiar or too distant
  • Sometimes uses cold emails
  • Doesn’t respect a prospect’s space or time
  • Uses only cold emails

25. Tell me how you sell to uninterested prospects

Great for: Understanding how they make sales to difficult prospects

The best sales reps create opportunities by changing uninterested prospects’ minds—but not by wearing indifferent customers down. Instead, a representative should listen to their concerns and help them gain a better understanding of your product.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Listens more than they speak
  • Addresses the prospect’s concerns
  • Wants to meet customers halfway but struggles to do so
  • Tries to wear customers down
  • Doesn’t hear prospect’s concerns
  • Dominates the conversation

26. How do you gauge need and interest?

Great for: Showing how they assess prospects and choose a strategy

Need and interest are some of the crucial factors to evaluate when hooking a prospect. However, selling something based on need or interest calls for different approaches. Ultimately, you want a sales rep who can identify the right method and follow up with a tailored strategy.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Willing to greatly alter sales strategy to meet the prospect’s need or interest
  • Listens to prospects to find the best way to connect with them
  • Somewhat understands the difference between need and interest
  • Can slightly alter their sales strategy
  • Uses a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Doesn’t understand the difference between need and interest

27. How do you catch up on sales targets when you’re below quota?

Great for: Evaluating how they bounce back from lagging sales

Even the best sales representatives have slow weeks. While missing sales targets is demoralizing, you need a candidate who can turn the tables on dropping quota. Because the best reps work smarter and not harder, see how they use their problem-solving and priority-juggling skills to bounce back.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Demonstrates persistence
  • Willing to change their strategy
  • Juggles multiple priorities
  • Simply tries harder and not smarter
  • Blames prospects and not themselves
  • Won’t think outside the box

28. Describe a time you changed your sales strategy and succeeded

Great for: Seeing how well they think on the fly

A prepared, well-researched sales pitch gets your foot in the door with a prospect. But more often than not, sales representatives need to adjust their angle and improvise to reach prospects. This question reveals how well the candidate can change their approach in the moment.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Makes a note of successful strategies and iterates on them
  • Compares and contrasts sales approaches
  • Willing to make significant adjustments to their tactics
  • Open to making slight adjustments to their approach
  • Can improvise but prefers not to
  • Unwilling to improve or deviate from the script

29. What’s the biggest factor standing in the way of closing a deal?

Great for: Learning the candidate’s weaknesses and workarounds

Each candidate should have a different answer to this question. You aren’t judging them based on their biggest obstacle. Instead, review how well they overcome that obstacle. Responding well to sales hurdles is the mark of a strong candidate.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Acknowledges personal challenges and weaknesses
  • Presents actionable solutions to their obstacle
  • Explains a vague or imprecise obstacle
  • Describes an obstacle but doesn’t provide a solution
  • Presents a non-obstacle as a serious issue
  • Expects you to solve problems for them

30. What company culture are you looking for?

Great for: Revealing their innate compatibility with your team

Every candidate is entitled to their opinions on the best company culture. This question determines whether their preference aligns with your team. A candidate who appreciates your team’s core values and the product or service itself is just as important as someone you get along with.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Admires your values and mission
  • Appreciates your team and work environment
  • Respects your management
  • Wants a culture that’s somewhat similar to yours
  • Acknowledges work culture differences you can reconcile
  • Describes a culture vastly different from yours
  • Seems hostile to your company culture

31. Can you describe our company in three sentences as if you were explaining it to a client?

Great for: Assessing the candidate’s level of research

Instead of asking what they know about your company, ask the candidate to pitch your business. Tactics like this demonstrate whether they can rise to the challenge without any stalling. This is one of the best interview questions for sales because it puts the candidate’s approach into practice.

A candidate should be able to deliver a succinct, captivating pitch. They should also present accurate details beyond the information on your homepage. Finally, if they’re a top-notch candidate, they should be able to weave together a pitch that sells you on your own product or service.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Shows in-depth knowledge
  • Explains why someone would want your product or service
  • Presents their ideas as a conversation, not a lecture
  • Only presents baseline information
  • Doesn’t show much enthusiasm
  • They can’t describe your company or product

32. Would you like to jump on a sales call?

Great for: Letting the candidate show off how they’d perform on the job

Talking about your skills is one thing, but showing them off goes further. The best candidates won’t jump right into their pitch, though. Instead, they’ll ask a few clarifying questions and deliver an informed pitch.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Asks questions about who they’re pitching before diving in
  • Adapts your product to an established sales process
  • Gives a rehearsed pitch
  • Gleans some preliminary information
  • Jumps onto a call without accurate information
  • Refuses to adapt their sales process to your product

Sales manager interview questions

Sales managers oversee small teams of representatives within a company. They help run day-to-day operations and mediate between sales teams and upper management. These questions reveal whether a candidate’s approach works within your business structure and company culture.

33. How would you define your management style?

Great for: Getting a sense of how they would lead your team

The candidate will be expecting this one, but it’s worth asking. Whatever answer they give, follow it up by asking for specific examples of how their sales management style has worked before. They should provide stories of testing and implementing their leadership tactics.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Provides many examples of their approach
  • Learned a lot through experience
  • Treats employees with respect and patience
  • Offers a few examples of their leadership style
  • Has some experience
  • Won’t offer examples of their leadership
  • Doesn’t respect employees or treat them well

34. How would you approach a sales rep who has missed their quotas for three months in a row?

Great for: Gauging their ability to have difficult conversations and motivate team members

Being able to push people toward success is a delicate matter. There are many factors that can go into why a sales rep isn’t meeting their quota. Personal reasons, health troubles, lack of training, and office culture can all affect failing numbers.

Listen carefully to how managers speak about struggling salespeople, and look for any red flags that suggest their core values don’t align with yours. Your sales team deserves a leader who understands that profits are essential but so is their well-being.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Values the bottom line and employee health
  • Finds a solution to low sales numbers before considering disciplinary action
  • Attempts to understand the root of low sales
  • Offers some support for low-performing employees
  • Disregards employees’ well-being
  • Cares only about profits
  • Punishes low-performing sales reps instead of offering solutions

35. How did you train your last new sales rep?

holding clipboard

Great for: Learning their values and skills as a manager

Ask them to describe their training process with the last new salesperson in their managing career. Ask if the training went according to plan—and if it didn’t, why not, and what did they do to get around that challenge?

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Explains their general approach to training
  • Offers alternatives when the main strategy doesn’t work
  • Enjoys teaching salespeople the ropes
  • Considers some alternatives when training doesn’t go according to plan
  • Shows interest in improving as a teacher
  • Provides only one approach to training
  • Blames employees when training doesn’t work
  • Dislikes training and tries to avoid it

36. Have you ever had to fire anyone?

Great for: Understanding how they would approach a termination

Ask them to describe one challenging experience firing someone and what they learned. See if they take that lesson into other similar situations. If the candidate has never fired anyone, tell them to lay out a hypothetical scenario and detail how they’d approach it.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Shows empathy and care when firing sales reps
  • Only fires employees for fair reasons
  • Plans for challenges in the conversation
  • Hasn’t ever fired anyone and isn’t sure how they would approach it
  • Has fired employees before but isn’t sure if they took the right approach
  • Enjoys firing employees
  • Refuses to ever fire sales reps
  • Fires employees for personal reasons

37. Do you use any data analysis tools, and if so, how do you use them?

Great for: Reviewing their technical literacy

If they’ve had access to data in the past, it’s essential to know if they did anything with it. Managers need a strong grasp of how to use data to leverage decision-making, so it’s good to get an example from your candidates about how they’ve done that in the past. Even non-sales tools like help desk software can assist them.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Familiar with data analysis tools
  • Wants to learn more about them
  • Presents great use cases
  • Unfamiliar with data analysis tools but ready to learn
  • Knows some data tool use cases
  • Unfamiliar with data analysis tools
  • Doesn’t want to learn more about them
  • Misuses data tools

Ask the best sales interview questions

Bring your A-game to the interview with our comprehensive list of sales interview questions designed to help you find the best fit for your team.

Sales director interview questions

Sales directors supervise managers to ensure company-wide sales are on track. While much of their work is high level, the best sales directors understand the needs and problems facing your average sales rep.

38. What would you do if you received an unattainable sales target?

Great for: Learning their general directorial philosophy

Is your candidate a “yes” person who will accept any challenge and charge ahead, even if they believe it’s impossible? Are they the kind of director who is upfront and honest, even if it’s a hard truth to tell? We can’t say what’s best because in the end, it depends on your team and what they respond to.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Offers their team help in meeting the goal
  • Tries to achieve the difficult target
  • Explains why the target won’t work and presents an alternative
  • Offers some help in meeting the sales target
  • Reluctant to discuss how attainable the target is
  • Expects sales reps to meet the target without any help
  • Lies about how realistic the target is

39. How would you revitalize a failing sales operation?

Great for: Seeing how they approach short- and long-term planning for incremental change

Tell your candidate to imagine that they’re in charge of a coasting sales operation that isn’t meeting its fullest potential. Then, ask them what they’d do in three months to transform a sales operation like that into a thriving and more profitable one.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Strikes a balance between keeping what works and changing what doesn’t
  • Researches the business to diagnose the root problem
  • Delegates tasks and reaches out for help
  • Keeps some of what works and throws out some of what doesn’t
  • Approximates the root problem
  • Takes on too much or too little responsibility
  • Throws everything out and starts from scratch
  • Refuses to make any significant changes
  • Doesn’t understand the root cause of the problems

40. What metrics have you used in the past to evaluate your team’s performance?

Great for: Understanding how they interpret metrics

Candidates may not assess the same exact metrics you use. Any sales director can learn to measure success with different metrics. The important thing is that they know how to interpret those metrics and act on them if necessary.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Offers a variety of important metrics
  • Explains why each metric matters
  • Can think outside the box and make connections between KPIs
  • Describes some key metrics
  • Understands the most important part of each metric
  • Draws some connections between KPIs
  • Unfamiliar with important metrics
  • Misunderstands sales metrics
  • Assesses performance based on poor metrics

Sales engineer interview questions

Sales engineers perform many of the same tasks as sales reps, but their tech expertise qualifies them to explain products and services to customers. They may also troubleshoot technical problems on their team.

41. What CRMs are you familiar with?

Great for: Gauging their level of technical experience

Across industries, sales teams are increasingly relying on CRMs. This question details their proficiency with the software. Ideally, the candidate will describe how and when they use each CRM. At the very least, you want them to be familiar with popular products like Zendesk Sell.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Describes in-depth CRM knowledge
  • Explains use cases for different CRM tools
  • Excited to learn more about CRMs
  • Knows about some CRM tools and products
  • Provides a few use cases
  • Willing to learn more about CRMs
  • Has no CRM experience
  • Provides incorrect use cases
  • Unwilling to learn more about CRMs

42. How do you stay up to date on new sales technology?

Great for: Assessing their proficiency with new sales technology

Modern software streamlines the sale process and makes lead nurturing less time-consuming. As a result, reps who know about the latest tech have a competitive advantage over other sellers. While you don’t need a technology expert, ensure your candidates stay on the lookout for new sales tools and features.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Shows curiosity and a desire to learn
  • Draws knowledge from multiple sources
  • Frequently brings in new tools and software
  • Willing to learn about new offerings
  • Gains knowledge from a few reliable sources
  • Sometimes brings in new tools and software
  • Refuses to keep up new tech
  • Draws knowledge from unreliable sources or too few sources
  • Never brings in new tools and software

43. What’s the most complex sales pitch you’ve ever given, and can you summarize it in a few sentences?

Great for: Determining if they can condense complicated information

Sales engineers must communicate highly complex and technical ideas in a way that people will easily understand. If your candidate gives you a brief summary on the spot—and you can understand it—that’s a pretty good indication that they know what they’re doing.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Keeps their pitch conversational and clear
  • Explains why a customer would want the product
  • Makes sure you understand their description
  • Pitch contains some jargon
  • Gives general use cases
  • Offers some clarification if you are confused
  • Provides a technical description full of jargon
  • Doesn’t explain why someone would want the product
  • Refuses to clarify

44. What’s your go-to strategy for generating more leads?

sales interview questions, playing pool

Great for: Testing their foundational sales skills

It’s nice to have someone with a library of solutions in their head. Ask your candidate to talk about the tried-and-true strategies that almost always work for them—and ask them how they handled it when their strategies didn’t work out as planned. Lead generation is an essential part of any sales job.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Gives multiple options depending on the exact situation
  • Describes how they choose one approach over another
  • Details fallback plans if they encounter problems
  • Outlines a few options with some flexibility
  • Gives some insight into why they chose their approach
  • Keeps some contingencies in mind
  • Provides a one-size-fits-all solution
  • Won’t explain their reasoning in depth
  • Offers no fallback plans

45. What are your tools for hooking potential clients?

Great for: Deciding if their model of delivering information matches your company’s

Sales engineers have a lot of tools at their disposal for explaining complex products. Strong candidates use presentations, demos, graphs, and other visual tools to help clients understand what their product is and what it does.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Uses many different tools designed for various tasks
  • Empathizes with the customer and offers as much clarity as possible
  • Uses a moderate selection of tools
  • Somewhat understands the customer’s perspective
  • Doesn’t take advantage of sales tools
  • Doesn’t account for the customer’s perspective and understanding

46. Tell us about a difficult partnership you had with a sales rep and how you handled it

Great for: Learning what the candidate considers difficult, as each person will have a different threshold for what they can handle

Sales engineers and reps have to work as a team, but partnerships can be tricky. Emotions can sometimes cause awkward tension, which stalls progress. You need to know that your candidates can handle challenging partnerships and maintain relationships with grace and professionalism.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Treats partners they dislike with respect
  • Manages their emotions well
  • Struggles to remain patient with difficult partners
  • Ignores emotions during tense situations altogether
  • Mistreats partners they dislike
  • Gives into emotional outbursts

Sales behavioral interview questions

Behavioral interview questions determine a candidate’s attitude or approach in a given situation. Some of the questions above already fall into this category, but the most common sales behavioral interview questions are below.

47. What are your long-term career goals?

Great for: Getting a feel for where the candidate is going in their career

Ambitious candidates who want to grow throughout their career make some of the best sales reps. This question shows the kinds of opportunities the candidate is most passionate about. Based on their answer, you can decide if the company would offer them the right chances to grow. The candidate could become a great asset if your long-term goals are compatible.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Their goals align with your business
  • Explains what they want and how this role will get them there
  • Their goals somewhat align with your business
  • Has vague long-term goals
  • Their goals don’t align with your business
  • Isn’t interested in career development

48. How would you change our company’s approach to sales?

Great for: Showing their capacity for entrepreneurial thinking

The last thing a candidate should say to this question is “nothing.” Their answer should display how they’d adapt your product or service to their sales process. Ultimately, use this question to test their critical thinking skills.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Floats a few ideas adapted from their sales process
  • Demonstrates critical thinking
  • Offers somewhat substantiated ideas
  • Says they wouldn’t change anything without elaborating
  • Proposes changes that would hurt the business

49. What would prompt you to leave your current role for another (this one, specifically)?

Great for: Learning why they want to work for your company specifically

This question addresses why the candidate chose your company over others and helps you determine if the candidate understands and appreciates what you sell. You can also learn more about their career goals.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Explains in detail why they want to join your team
  • Stays positive about their current role
  • Keeps their personal motivations vague
  • Shares good and bad points about their current role
  • Gives the impression they won’t be loyal to your team
  • Appears purely self-interested
  • Describes only the negative side of their current role

50. Why did you get into sales?

Great for: Understanding the candidate’s goals and motivations

While there are no wrong answers, this question helps you get to know the candidate better. It also outlines their internal motivations and gives you a sense of where their ambition comes from.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Shares internal and external motivations
  • Describes how their experience with sales changed over time
  • Ties emotions into their story
  • Mentions only internal or external motivations
  • Partially explains how their entry into sales would go on to shape them
  • Doesn’t offer insight into deeper motivations
  • Claims to only be in it for the money

51. What do you like best about working in sales?

Great for: Revealing a candidate’s strengths and areas of interest

Some reps love sales for customer connections, and others prefer learning about a new product. By understanding their preferences, you can determine the best way to place a candidate on your team.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Enjoys multiple parts of the job
  • Goes into detail about why they like certain aspects of sales
  • Enjoys a few important parts of the job
  • Gives a few slight preferences
  • Doesn’t offer insight into their interests
  • Gives a generic, rehearsed answer instead of a candid one

52. What’s your least favorite part about working in sales?

Great for: Testing the candidate’s honesty and transparency

Selling comes with its fair share of frustrating dead ends. Honest candidates will use this question to discuss their weaknesses and least favorite parts of the job. If you like the candidate, you may even be able to find them a position that avoids their weak areas.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Clearly describes their least favorite part and explains why
  • Offers workarounds to their least favorite part
  • Demonstrates a desire to improve their weaknesses
  • Dislikes a few crucial parts of the job
  • Willing to compromise on their least favorite parts of the job
  • Refuses to name anything
  • Lists the main job functions

53. What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve received?

Great for: Seeing how the candidate responds to and learns from constructive criticism

Sales reps need to balance feedback from customers and their teams. Representatives who value their feedback enough to remember it can handle criticism with open-minded humility.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Answers honestly and humbly
  • Explains how the feedback affected them
  • Appears enthusiastic about feedback and development
  • Takes feedback but doesn’t appreciate it
  • Provides a non-specific answer
  • Doesn’t listen to feedback
  • Insists they don’t need to grow
  • Reacts to feedback with anger

54. What motivates you to sell?

sales interview questions, people running

Great for: Seeing whether they are internally or externally motivated

Whether quotas or a self-starter mentality grant a feeling of success, motivated sales reps get the most done. This question will tell you how to encourage this rep if they join your team.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Offers internal and external motivations
  • Derives joy and excitement from sales
  • Takes initiative
  • Mentions internal or external motivations
  • Enjoys part of the sales process
  • Willing to persist through hard parts of the job
  • Doesn’t explain deeper motivations
  • Unwilling to tolerate frustrations on the job

55. What product do you most want to sell?

Great for: Learning about their interests and passions

Genuine passion can turn a good pitch into a great one. With that in mind, you should find out what the candidate is most passionate about. If their preferred product aligns with your own, you may get more mileage out of this particular sales rep.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Explains why the product means so much to them
  • Their ideal resembles your product
  • Demonstrates real passion
  • Explains why the product is valuable to customers
  • Their ideal somewhat resembles your product
  • Shows some enthusiasm
  • Doesn’t have an ideal product
  • Their ideal is vastly different from your product
  • No signs of passion

56. How does a client’s personal background factor into your sales pitch?

Great for: Revealing their sensitivity to a client’s emotions and background

While a prospect’s personality should always factor into the pitch, sales reps need to stay sensitive and respectful. Use this question to see how they walk that line. You can also get a sense of the candidate’s experience pitching to diverse clients with different backgrounds.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Personalizes their pitches while staying respectful
  • Appreciates the value of diversity
  • Shows signs of empathy
  • Adds slight personalization
  • Puts effort into respecting different backgrounds
  • Shows some empathy for the prospect
  • Avoids personalization altogether
  • Places too much stock in the prospect’s background
  • No empathy or appreciation for diversity

57. Who is your ideal customer?

Great for: Exploring sales best-case scenarios with the candidate

For the most part, the candidate’s actual answer doesn’t matter too much. Hiring managers should see how the candidate ties their ideal customer into their selling process. Get a sense of why they like selling to some consumers over others. Additionally, the rep shouldn’t get too caught up in demographics.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Ties their ideal prospect into their selling process
  • Explains why they like a certain kind of customer
  • Provides a baseline demographic answer or a general one
  • Gives some insight into why they prefer this type of customer
  • Presents an unrealistic customer
  • Claims to have no preference at all
  • Bases their preference on personal bias or poor data

58. Have you ever lost an extremely valuable customer or sale?

Great for: Seeing how a candidate bounces back from mistakes

Learning from failure is arguably even more important than learning from success. This question will reveal some of the candidate’s hardest lessons. If they say yes, ask them to elaborate on how they handled the situation. Clarify at what point in their career it happened and what they learned from that experience.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Openly acknowledges mistakes
  • Shares lessons learned
  • Corrected their behavior in the future
  • Learns from mistakes over time
  • Willing to acknowledge errors
  • Won’t acknowledge mistakes
  • Refuses to change their behavior

59. How do you keep yourself organized in your day-to-day routine?

sales interview questions, multitasking on laptop

Great for: Evaluating their ability to multitask and prioritize

You need to know how your staff juggles multiple tasks without dropping any. Do they use sales technology to help organize their workflow? Do they keep detailed planners, or have they worked with an assistant for years?

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Explains how they structure their days
  • References technology and planning strategies
  • Sometimes struggles to stay organized
  • Voices a desire to improve their organizational skills
  • Has no organizational strategy
  • Frequently drops the ball

60. How do you react when your contact for a key account changes?

Great for: Revealing how the candidate adapts to sudden changes

A change in contact can come as an abrupt surprise, even to experienced reps. This question shows how they react to such changes. You can also ask them if they ever had challenges with contacts changing, so you can get an idea of how they handle difficult personalities.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Doesn’t take the change personally
  • Tries their best to form a great relationship with their new contact
  • Takes the change personally
  • Gets angry at the client
  • Refuses to adjust to the new contact

61. What do you regard as the hardest part of sales, and how do you manage it?

Great for: Learning how they respond to adversity

This one is akin to asking someone about their weaknesses. It’s a moment for your candidate to be vulnerable without crossing into self-deprecation. They should be able to give you clear examples of when they met this challenge head-on and how they continue to deal with it today.

There’s no right or wrong answer—unless they say there’s nothing difficult about sales.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Honestly explains their biggest challenges
  • Describes their workarounds and improvement strategies
  • Says they don’t need help managing any part of the sales process
  • They manage problems with subpar solutions
  • Ignores parts of sales they don’t like

62. Tell me about a time you felt overwhelmed with work.

Great for: Assessing how they work in a high-stress environment

It’s good to know how your candidate deals with a large workload. The best answers are ones that include a plan and an example of when this plan was put into action.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Candidly describes what overwhelmed them
  • Details the plan they used to address feeling of overwhelm
  • Offers a broad strategy
  • Claims they’re always frustrated at work
  • Wants managers to solve their problems

63. Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself and achieved it.

Great for: Giving them the chance to lead with their best foot forward

You can decide whether you want an answer specifically about workplace goals or life goals. Even non-sales-related goals and achievements can say a lot about your candidates.

Did they compete in a triathlon? Self-publish a novel? Build their own computer? Ask them to explain why they set that goal, how they achieved it, and if they’ve used that method in other areas of their life.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Describes how they achieved their goal
  • Explains why the goal was important
  • Gives a purely factual answer
  • Boasts a little bit
  • Tells an unrealistic story that could be a lie
  • Ends up bragging more than explaining

64. How did you prepare for this interview?

Great for: Gaining insight into their research, prospecting, and sales processes

Contrary to some candidates’ reactions, this isn’t a trick question. Preparing for an interview isn’t too unlike preparing for a sale, so you’ll want to look for honest answers that shed light on their research process.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Offers insight into their process
  • Answers vaguely
  • Says they did nothing to prepare
  • Makes claims they can’t back up about their preparation

65. What questions do you have for me?

Great for: Seeing what they want insight into

This question gives the candidate a chance to understand the role better. It also reveals how curious the rep is and how interested they are in the position. The best sales reps never hesitate to ask questions and get a better handle on their prospect.

Green flags

Yellow flags

Red flags

  • Asks in-depth questions about your team
  • Wants to understand you and your company better
  • Has a few standard questions
  • Doesn’t have any

Frequently asked questions about sales interviews

Candidates aren’t the only ones who have to prepare for a sales interview. Businesses conducting interviews often ask some of the following questions.

  • What questions should I ask in a sales interview?

    Nearly every hiring manager reads from their list of questions. If you aren’t sure where to start, research common questions in your industry and note the ones that pop up the most frequently. Ensure the selected questions relate closely to the job you’re interviewing candidates for. The sales interview answers you receive need to indicate the candidate’s skill.

  • How do I prepare for a sales interview?

    You’re off to a good start just by reading this article. You need to outline the qualities you want in a candidate and draft follow-up questions to ask in a sales interview. Ensure that you can speak to candidates with confidence and respect.

  • Are there any questions I shouldn’t ask in an interview?

    Absolutely—and it’s important to know what they are. You can’t ask about age, gender, sexuality, race, or religion because employers can use these answers to discriminate against candidates. Look into your local and federal laws to ensure you’re not asking a question that could make a candidate feel uncomfortable or cause problems for you in the future.

Sales interviews are just as important for candidates as they are for businesses making hiring decisions. While the right sales interview questions will make the process easier, choosing the perfect candidate takes time and consideration. For every interview, you get one step closer to a candidate who will reach new customers and satisfy existing ones.

To get started, download our list of sales interview questions below.

Ask the best sales interview questions

Bring your A-game to the interview with our comprehensive list of sales interview questions designed to help you find the best fit for your team.

Ask the best sales interview questions

Bring your A-game to the interview with our comprehensive list of sales interview questions designed to help you find the best fit for your team.

Download sales interview questionsDownload sales interview questions