5 Interview Questions Every Salesperson Must Know

How To Prepare For Your Interview

These questions are commonly asked during the interview process. Preparing for these questions and recognizing how to communicate your answers in a fashion that aligns with the person asking the questions will set you up for ultimate success.

1. Tell me about yourself?
Focus on qualities such as strengths and skills that make you well-suited for the position. Include short, relevant examples that highlight those strengths. Remember, when someone is asking questions, they are looking for and listening for your alignment with the position being offered and checking to see if you are able to articulate and align your strengths with the position. If you tell the interviewer about strengths that don't align with the position, they know you may not be associated to what they are looking for in their ideal candidate.

2. Why did you apply for a position in sales?
Think about what the person asking questions is looking for in their ideal candidate. Prepare for this question by becoming associated to why you enjoy sales and why you feel you are an asset in sales. You may be someone who is motivated by the fact that sales can be lucrative or that you can feel important when dealing with other people in sales, but what are some of the deeper more intimate reasons you are dynamic in sales. Instead of saying "because I can make a lot of money" or "because I'm a people-person." Instead, you want to evoke more emotion by speaking to a deeper purpose like:
- Sales is the only profession where I can consistently help people fill a need.
- I find sales provides me with the continual opportunity to develop and grow.
- Sales is important in every industry and I find security in knowing that I can always fill that need.
- I believe that a sales professional is the driving force behind any successful company.

3. Tell me about a time where you failed in your career and what you learned from the experience?
This is an incredible opportunity to showcase what you have learned, be vulnerable and ultimately show them you've learned from your mistakes. You need to always be prepared to highlight a time where you fell short, how you have grown and have become a better salesperson because of it; remember no one is perfect.

If you say, "I can't remember a time I've failed" OR "I haven't ever failed," this shows the interviewer a few things: it could show that you do not take ownership of your mistakes; that you don't want to look incompetent and are willing to put on a show instead of being real; that you've played it safe your in your career and may not be willing to take the risks necessary to be successful in sales.

4. Why did you leave your last job?
Interviewers ask this question for a couple of reasons: to see how you speak about past employees and to understand why you want to join their organization. You want to always speak highly of every experience you've had. Speaking negatively about your last job shows immaturity and poor character. Negative experiences always have some aspect that enriched your skills or experiences and you want to make sure to highlight the best aspects while showcasing how this opportunity better suits you and your skill sets.

5. What do you look for in a company culture?
Company culture is a hot topic. Employers want to know that you will fit into their culture. Make sure you know what their core values are before the interview and speak to those. Highlight what you have noticed in their marketing or articles you have read online and take this time to ask questions about their culture. You do not want to come across as if you know what their company is like without taking the time to ask them about their culture, highlighting specific ideals and values that you are aligned with.

To learn more about the 5 Must Have's of Interviewing Check out NASP's ProSeries Program titled Interviewing Skills!
Brooke Dukes
Brooke Dukes> all articles
Known as an influential communicator, passionate leader and value focused consultative salesperson, Brooke has blazed a trail of multimillion-dollar achievement across industries including IT, Finance, Travel, Insurance, Coaching and Organizational Culture. A trusted advisor of CFO's, COO's and CEO's, she has leveraged intense product and service expertise to build a competitive advantage- fostering loyalty and collaborative problem solving that has been instrumental in the success of Align to Thrive, NASP and other Trusum Visions Companies.

Over the past 20 years Brooke has honed her skills as a leader and top sales professional. She was Director of Business Development for two Fortune 100 companies over 10 years before taking her skills into the private sector and building a thriving health insurance agency. Brooke joined NASP in 2007 focusing on supporting her team, coaching leaders, entrepreneurs and sales professionals and creating new client relationships in the area of cultural and behavioral change. She has worked with some of the largest and most successful companies in the world; Companies such as Lear, General Motors, United Airlines, Terumo, First Merit and many more.

As a key member of the leadership team tasked with growing the business, developing and delivering new products, coaching, training and building a strong team to support the company culture and the ultimate vision, Brooke has been instrumental in the company's revolutionary success.
  • /data/userPictures/B84D4586-BEEE-437C-ADE0-D3FBFEE77161.jpgGeorge Martinez4/16/2017 2:44:33 PM
    After having just gone through the Interview process many times, I can say these are all very important. The more a person is prepared, the greater their potential becomes. Great article.

  • /data/userPictures/0C16D7AB-8AED-4F2C-A108-DD9295C6DEF6.jpgBrooke Dukes4/17/2017 3:06:01 PM
    Thank you George. I'm so glad you enjoyed my article.

  • /data/userPictures/8348204F-7330-4A26-8AA5-4657FA77C843.jpgChuck Gennarelli5/2/2017 4:00:47 PM
    Thank you very helpful

  • /data/userPictures/0C16D7AB-8AED-4F2C-A108-DD9295C6DEF6.jpgBrooke Dukes5/2/2017 4:25:37 PM
    Thanks Chuck, good luck!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgRameez Saifulla6/13/2017 8:27:20 AM
    Very Helpful.

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgSrinivas K6/26/2017 9:40:08 AM
    Great One , These articles helps a lot

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgGreyson Curry9/9/2017 8:53:58 AM
    Great writing! Thank you! I will be using this advice soon.

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgColin Schreiber9/20/2017 11:12:51 PM
    Great article. Will definitely come back to this when I'm looking for a new job.

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureFemale.jpgAshley Johnson10/6/2017 10:29:42 AM
    Great article!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPicture.jpgHenna Raina10/13/2017 12:44:27 PM
    Thank you - great article!

  • /data/userPictures/B366965B-98CF-4714-9D12-11B0BD3E5A0E.jpgSeydou Ndiaye10/23/2017 1:00:21 PM
    Thanks, helpful article

  • /data/userPictures/D8690656-67E9-4397-A956-7C651B3FC7AB.jpgChukwumaobi Onuoha1/31/2018 12:39:29 AM
    Thanks. Really helpful.

  • /data/userPictures/1259D8E5-7BF0-46DA-9C42-B758A4F550D9.jpgAllison Pruden1/31/2018 9:13:06 AM
    Currently going through the interview process this has been all the questions asked in the last 3 interviews I have done. Wish I would've seen this sooner.

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureFemale.jpgMarci Overstreet1/31/2018 11:41:57 PM
    These questions are great and totally applicable.

  • /data/userPictures/093EC457-52A5-41BE-93A4-6B10D775DCF9.jpgMike Morgan3/6/2018 12:06:25 PM
    The thoughts around preparing to respond to "where you failed before" are good. Prepare to be authentic with a real challenge that shows insight, instead of acting like you don't face challenges. It's true that stating that you don't fail might make someone raise a yellow flag that you are too concerned with your image or pride might get in the way of your work.

  • /data/userPictures/F83B34B8-5376-4D75-8EBE-7B5A57D02991.jpgMichael Hare3/14/2018 6:36:46 PM
    I love this article! Thank you, Brooke, for a great overview.

    Having been on both sides of the interview process, I couldn't speak more highly of your response to Q4. Anytime I have heard a potential employee completely trash a former employer, my first thought is "This is going to be us in a couple years." It never works well for the interviewee.

  • /data/userPictures/CBC45CD6-4846-4EC8-866F-897237754470.jpgArsenio Bell4/11/2018 11:32:14 PM
    This is a great read. Out of the 5 questions, number 1, 3, and 5 are timeless and special. Open-ended questions are always the backbone of a good, meaningful dialogue in my opinion. Knowing about who you are hiring links directly to figuring out if they can mesh well with the culture. Failure is a part of the journey called success; someone who can talk about how he/she failed, can surely apply their mind and energy to present plan to succeed.

  • /data/userPictures/D20BE136-71D6-44F6-B7DC-9F0BFA721932.jpgMARY NWAGWUGHIAGWU11/19/2018 11:25:10 AM
    Great read...insightful too.

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPicture.jpgGraeson Clark1/26/2019 9:19:50 PM
    This is so helpful. Thank you!

  • /data/userPictures/E2144E7A-8401-403B-8DFC-829B720DBAAE.jpgRussell Smith2/12/2019 9:40:05 PM
    Thank you for sharing this well thought put and insightful article. Very helpful for my upcoming interviews.