7 Sales Job Interview Questions that Lead to Better Hires


Hindsight is always 20/20 when it comes to identifying why a sales executive did not have success in their role. However, given the costs of making a bad hire, asking the right questions in the interview stage can draw out the kinds of insights needed to avoid making bad hiring decisions in the first place. Discover what seven of these questions for sales executive candidates are, and why they are useful.

When people fail as sales representatives, it’s often because they didn’t have the right personal attributes or temperament for the job.

Some get into sales without ever intending to make a career out of it. Others intend to make it their career but quit or get fired due to a lack of organization, inability to handle rejection, not meeting quota, or not having enough motivation.

While problems with these employees are more obvious in hindsight, knowing the right interview questions to ask before they are ever hired is a better way of getting there. The right questions will reveal a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their preferences and aspirations.

Take a Chronological Approach to Reviewing the Candidate’s Resume

With the chronological interview, a human resources representative walks through the candidate’s relevant work experience from oldest to newest. This helps to uncover consistent themes in both attitude and job performance.

It is also helpful to ask potential account executives to describe each relevant step in his or her career. This allows the interviewer to better understand how the candidate arrived at where he or she is at today.

Insightful Questions Specific to Sales Jobs

The following sales executive interview questions are specific to a sales role and help to draw out the most useful information for a hiring manager:

1.) What are your responsibilities in your current or former role and how do you define success?

The candidate should be able to describe his or her job duties in a clear manner. Since the ability to understand the definition of success is critical for a sales job, not being able to describe this sends a clear red flag.

2.) If you could go back in time, what would you do to be even more successful?

A candidate who takes offense at this question may lack self-awareness and not be coachable.

3.) What motivates you?

While everyone must ultimately answer this for themselves, certain responses could indicate a poor fit with company culture. For example, someone who is internally driven to meet personal goals may not do well in a team-oriented environment.

4.) What is your ultimate career goal?

Salespeople who don’t feel like their company affords them enough opportunity to advance are likely to resign quickly. Ideally, the candidate would indicate a career aspiration that he or she can achieve at the interviewing company.

5.) How do you overcome a prospect’s objections?

The interviewee’s response to this question demonstrates whether he or she has prepared a response to common objections or if push-back from a prospect would be upsetting.

6.) What accomplishment are you most proud of and how do you plan to top them?

The candidate should be able to describe in detail the steps he or she completed to meet a challenging goal. Additionally, having an even more challenging goal in sight shows the kind of determination necessary to succeed in sales.

7.) Explain your rank on each sales team that you have indicated on your resume. Why did you leave each company?

This is the type of question that also uncovers self-awareness in a candidate. It also shows whether the reason for leaving positions is logical and outside of the person’s control. A vague response indicates a restless person who is likely to leave this position sooner than the hiring company would like.


Andrew Armstrong is a technology enthusiast, business owner, and digital marketing strategist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He founded KickStart Search in 2009 and sold a majority of the agency assets to Los Angeles-based marketing firm Wpromote in March of 2015. Today Andrew independently manages a small portfolio of specialty client projects.

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