Running a recruitment company, I’m often asked by business development professionals as to my thoughts on interviewing for a sales, sales management or account management job.
Frequently, I get three of the same inquiries and feel that it would be helpful to address these points and provide some crucial insight into how to approach the topics from a fresh, original perspective.
Below, you’ll find these questions with some helpful thoughts to consider.
Question #1: How many questions should I ask, which ones should I ask and when do I ask them? Essentially, they want to know how to approach this aspect of the interview.
Answers: In sales, more so than in any other profession, it’s not about what you ask during an interview, rather it’s about how you come across when you ask it.
When I’m interviewing potential applicants, sometimes they ask intelligent questions, though their body language and tone of voice tell me that they are skeptical, unfocused, disinterested or simply not engaged. In other instances, their questions are so unoriginal that it almost seems like they cut and pasted them from an internet article.
It sounds harsh, but the result is that I don’t pass them on to my clients and they don’t get to interview. Companies pay my recruiting firm a lot of money partly to weed job seekers who do this out of the equation.
What Do Strong Sales Interviewers Do?
* A strong interviewer will be asking questions throughout the interview that are pertinent to the conversation. This shows that they are diligent listeners, understand complex situations and are engaged in the job we’re hired to recruit for.
* They make it pleasurable to speak with them. They don’t bore me by asking questions simply because it’s customary to ask questions.
* The most intelligent, persuasive and highly paid candidates base their questions on extensive web research that they’ve done about the company and the industry.
Question #2: What questions do I like to ask interviewers and how I do judge the validity of that person’s answers.
Here are 3 examples:
1. “If I were to meet one of your friends or colleagues at an event and they didn’t know you were interviewing at my company, what do you think they would say about you?”
Let’s put it this way, if their answer is, “Bob would say I’m a great guy, a great employee and I’m great at what I do,” it’s a red flag. In the real world, people simply don’t speak that way. Instead, I look for thoughtful answers such as, “It depends who you ask. If it were my former boss whom I made a lot of money for it would be positive. If you asked a client I’d sure hope that they would describe me as hard working and as someone with integrity.”
2 “Describe a time that you failed?”
I like to hear heartfelt stories that are honest. Rarely, do I judge an interviewer based on their mistake. Everyone fails in business at some point. Not everyone is secure enough to admit it. I particularly like the people who had the wind knocked out of them, though proved they were resilient and got back on their game.
3. “What do you think I want in an employee?”
The most effective sales people can see things from other people’s viewpoints. Personally, I look for passionate, hard working, reliable and autonomous individuals. Essentially, I want someone who can execute so I can focus on my job. Regarding the answer, the closer they are, the more I respect them as applicants.
Question #3: “How should I phrase my elevator pitch and what should I say.”
I look for people who don’t oversell themselves, but don’t undersell their abilities. For me, something they say has to be original and interesting enough for me to want to speak to them further. In general, I like genuine and positive.