Recruiting Sales Talent: Are You Asking the Right Interview Questions?


To land top sales talent, you need to hire for drive. It’s an innate quality and a deeply embedded personality trait that not everyone has – but it’s essential to sales performance success. And it can be identified by looking into a job candidate’s past behavior. There, you will be able to determine whether or not an individual meets your criteria to “trade up” in terms of the quality of your sales force.

Ask the right questions and your interview process will net dynamic, profitable results.

“Based on your experience, what would your process be for selling our product/service?”

Don’t assume that a candidate’s previous sales job was similar to yours. With this and ensuing interview questions, take an open-ended approach to glean measurable details of an individual’s past experience.

  • Actively listen. Ask for specific numbers and percentages, and lead into a conversation that includes follow-up questions to nail down these key facts. This way, you’ll learn whether a candidate was an order taker, a new sales hunter, or somewhere in between.

“If I put you in a room with only a phone and a sales goal, what would you do – step by step?”

When hiring for drive, look for these qualities in a candidate: competitiveness, optimism and a natural need for achievement. Their behavior when it comes to initiating, completing and closing a sale within cycle parameters can be defined through this and similar behavioral questions.

  • Twenty percent of all salespeople make 80 percent of all sales. Sales leaders maintain their competitive edge by taking 100 percent responsibility for results.
  • Look for these elements in your candidate’s response: ambition, will power, determination, goal orientation, and the ability to approach prospective customers with ease, confidence and polish.

“Give me an example of a challenging achievement in your past that would contribute to your success in this role.”

Your interview questions should give candidates a chance to shine, as well as see how they perform and achieve results under pressure.

  • Highly driven people don’t rest until they reach their goal. They maintain optimism despite the inevitable rejections inherent to the business of sales.

“Tell me about the first-year new sales revenue that you generated in your last position.”

You want to know what a candidate can produce, not just what they can maintain or grow in terms of selling potential.

  • Never hire someone expecting them to sell deals larger than the biggest ones they’ve sold in the past. Too many interviews focus on total dollars and not key new sales revenue breakdowns.

“Give me an example of you closing a sale quickly. Now, give me an example of a long sales cycle and your persistence in seeing the process through.”

Have a candidate walk you through processes they followed to a successful end result. You want a high producer who will assimilate quickly into your system. This won’t happen if you expect them to sell outside their previous experience.

  • When you hire for long cycles and a candidate is used to short ones, they will quickly become discouraged and unproductive because they’re used to faster wins and more of them. The opposite also is true.

By asking the right interview questions, you will be able to identify the best candidate for your sales position. If you are looking for recruiting assistance, contact the professional sales recruitment team at Fillmore Search Group for additional guidance in hiring top talent for your successful future. We look forward to hearing from you!


blog, publishingsAisha Quaintance