How to prepare for a sales interview

10 February 2020

By Robyn Warwick

​If you're preparing for a sales interview, here a few of our tips for success!

Preparation is the key to interview success – here are our top tips to succeed in an interview for a sales role.

Our tips

  • Research the company and the people who will be involved in the interview. Try to find out more than most the other candidates going for the job – and don’t just rely on the company website for information! Use search engines, social media and all the other resources at your disposal. Hiring managers are always very impressed with someone who has done their homework and always very disappointed by someone who hasn’t

  • Read the job description and any other documentation you have been given. Understand what the company are looking for. Spend some time thinking about yourself as a match to the role and consider your strengths and weaknesses in terms of your fit. Consider how you’ll overcome any questions around your perceived weaknesses when comparing your CV to the job description

  • Read your own CV. Make sure you are familiar with what you’ve said about your sales career to date and can confidently talk through your career history

  • Be as well presented as you can be.

  • Make sure you are on time. Plan your route and ideally do a practice run of your journey taking into consideration weather, traffic, parking issues and anything else that might make you late. Do not be late!

  • Be pleasant to everyone you meet, from the people you might see in the car park and everyone else you come into contact with. Big smile and eye contact. You have no idea who they are or their influence on the process

  • Most companies ask a mix of traditional questions and competency based questions. Be aware of these and practice standard questions

  • You will be asked why you’re leaving your current role and previous roles. Have a good, genuine, answer for each

  • During the questioning you will be asked about your achievements and failures in your recent and previous roles. Ensure that you can give specific information on your targets and KPI’s in your current/most recent role and your performance again them. Be prepared to talk through the detail. You may come under scrutiny in terms of sales activity, many hiring manger will want to really dig down into your behaviours and achievements. Be aware that you may be asked to evidence your success

  • If you have a ‘brag file’ take it with you. Hiring managers love hard evidence that you’re as good/successful as you say you are

  • Listen to the question and make sure you answer fully, without rambling on too much

  • Avoid making claims you can’t substantiate and avoid being ‘woolly’ in your answers

  • Some interviewers will deliberately put you under pressure to see how you’ll handle it. Keep your cool and professionalism at all times

  • Ask relevant questions at the end. Ask about the commission structure. All good sales people are motivated by money and it will be in your interests to show that whilst you’ll be expecting a good basic salary that you’re interested in what you can earn on top of that. Show an interest but save and deeper discussions for the second stage interview

  • Make it clear that customer service is a passion

  • At the end of the interview try to close, even if it’s softly – it’s expected of you!

  • Part of the role of a recruitment consultant is to support you through this process and to get you ready for each specific interview, helping you understand what is expected by each hiring manager and the style of questioning you’ll face. All candidates that Sarah West Recruitment are working with have a pre-interview conversation before every interview, just to make sure that they are full briefed and therefore have every possible chance of success

As always if we can help you by talking through any of this in more detail, please do give Robyn a call for a chat! Or if you're looking for a sales job, take a look at everything we're currently working on!

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