Jillian Kurvers

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Do you need help interviewing sales people? Well you’re in luck. Use these 5 questions to quickly understand the type of salesperson sitting across the table from you.
Get spicy! 

1. What was/is the sales process at your last/current job?

You should learn the cycle length of their experience. Experience is great, if that experience makes sense for your business. You should learn if this person can deal with a high frequency of rejection, or would rather build fewer, long-term sales.

2. In your experience, would you rather foster current relationships or develop new customers?

So this applicant claims that they generated $1 million in revenue last year for an old employer. Wonderful, but how exactly? You need to figure out if this person specializes in:

  • fewer high profile deals
  • growing the relationships in an existing sales base
  • getting down and dirty in the trenches of finding new customers

 3. What is your best story of quickly making a sale, from opening to closing?

You want tangible details and facts (and you can even ask this question with the help of your hiring software, right in the application). It will give you more insight into this salesperson’s idea of sale speed. If their example of a fast sale takes 3 months longer than your average, you may see a red flag.

4. Can you describe the longest sale that you ever took part in?

Again, you see how this person operates. Are they willing to see long-term? Learn if this person can stick with a single relationship all the way through. Or, they may have acted as part of a team, or “relay-sale.” If your sales team has multiple touch points between members and customers, you may value someone who can pick up a page of notes, and jump right into the arena.

5. If you could do anything in the world, would it still be selling?

If they say they’d rather be writing poetry in a shanty house on a beach, you may want to dive into their motivations more. They don’t need to express how they’ll work for you until they die, though.  You just want someone who feels alive by selling. Passion and enthusiasm can go a long way.

Adapt the questions accordingly

These questions should get you well on your way to hiring the perfect salesperson. Depending on your timeframe, look for quick answers or encourage the interviewee to elaborate till your heart’s content. These spicy questions can help you dig deeper than typically boring questions for interviewing sales people.


Do you think these questions will rock your process of interviewing sales people, or maybe they’re totally bogus? Let us know if they work with a comment below or on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

  • Ben Strackany

    Good questions, although for #2 I think if you want to know how they made $1MM in revenue for a former employer, ask them that direct question and see how they respond.
    I also recommend being clear with your goals and see how they react, e.g. ask “We have a goal to increase sales from $3MM to $4MM over the next two years, what would your approach be?” and see if they ask intelligent questions and suggest approaches based on their experience.

    Lastly, some questions should come from why you’re hiring in the first place. Is this your first salesperson, or your tenth? Do you have an existing process or role they would fit into, or do you need someone who can take your sales to the next level? Do you need strategy and/or management?

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