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The Alongside Blog

Did you know? The average turnover for sales is 20-30% annually. According to an article by Frank V. Cespedes and Daniel Weinfurter, companies typically spend more time hiring in sales than they do anywhere else [in their company’s departments].

The time and money invested in recruiting, training and employment costs are substantial. The average cost of turnover for entry-level sales positions alone is approximately $49,508 (ahh!). We want to make sure you find the best hire the first time round. So, we put together an all-inclusive Interview Toolkit for interviewing your next sales rep. We want you to have it, so don't wait and get it now!

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When we hire for sales, the six key criteria we look for in our selection process are:

1. Creativity/thinking on your feet

2. Motivation, growth potential, coach-ability

3. Ability to deal with rejection

4. Naturally friendly, affable, outgoing

5. Culture-fit, alignment with company values

6. Technical skills & writing abilities

Asking the right questions can help you make smart decisions and identify key criteria you’re looking for in candidates for the sales role. Our Interview Toolkit for hiring top sales candidates includes Pre-Screening Questions, Interview Questions, Reference Check Questions, and Scorecard Templates that you can easily adapt and print for your next sales interviews.

Get Your Interview Toolkit

Pre-Screening Questions

Pre-Screening Interviews are an opportunity to save time and resources by narrowing down your prospect list to the most qualified candidates. It’s a good idea to pre-schedule these interviews, and they should take around 15-20 minutes. Make sure to ask the ‘deal-breakers,' such as:

  • Do they have required skills and certifications?
  • What’s their salary range?
  • Are they available for your intended start date?

We’ve included these and other great examples of important qualifying questions in the toolkit, so you can quickly decide which candidates to proceed with for a formal interview.

Interview Questions

The interview is your chance to meet your candidate and get to know them better. It’s your opportunity to hear their story, and figure out if they could be a good fit for your team. Asking the right questions is important to determine if the candidate has what it takes to succeed in the role, in the team, and with your company. It’s also your chance to gauge cultural fit - how well this person’s own work style, goals, and views fit with your company’s.

The four main types of questions asked in an interview are:

  • Introduction Questions
  • Behavioral Questions
  • Situational Questions
  • Cultural Fit Questions
  • Role-Specific Questions

These questions help you learn more about the candidate, their experience, their problem-solving skills, as well as, values and attitude toward their work.

Behaviour questions give you an opportunity to ask about their past work experience and what they’ve learned from it. Situational questions are an excellent way to see how they think through and respond to hypothetical scenarios that they could face in the role you’re hiring for. It’s a chance to see how they draw from their experience, as well as, plan out how to react to challenges. It’s important to look for sales people who are quick on their feet but also think holistically about things such as ROI, future situations and policies, customer relationships, and reflection of your brand in every interaction they make.

Here are some examples of great questions to ask;

  • Can you tell me about a time you had to make a great impression with a potential client? What did you do?
  • How would you respond to someone who says ‘no thanks’ because they’re already using a competitor?
  • What is the first thing you would you do when dealing with a frustrated customer’s complaint?

We strongly recommend conducting group interviews so that several members of your team get to meet the candidate and are involved in the selection process. This helps you to pick someone your team feels is best based on lots of feedback besides your own. Together, you can discuss the qualifications and whether or not they would be a cultural fit. Here’s a great example of a question to ask regarding culture fit:

  • Where would you like to be in 5 years? How does this role help you get there?

Reference Check Questions

Reference Checks are typically the final step before you send out an official offer. It’s your chance to do your due diligence and get a second opinion on the candidate. Collect 3-4 professional references from candidates to get their perspective. Avoid asking yes/no questions as they don’t give much detail. Remember to be courteous and always ask at the end if they have anything else to add beyond the questions you’ve asked.

Here’s an example of a great reference question:

  • Can you tell me about a failure or setback [insert name] had at work? How did they react and how did they improve or adjust going forward?

Scorecard Template

EXTRA! EXTRA! We’ve included our hiring scorecard for candidates in our super-handy Interview Toolkit. This helpful resource will help you measure candidate responses and make decisions about who to hire. We broke down our six criteria into detailed expectations and assigned a 1-5 rating system to them. It's a great way to make an assessment post-interview to discuss with your colleagues before you go to next steps. Don't wait and get the toolkit today. You won't regret it!

Get Your Interview Toolkit

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