The Fine Art of Successful Sales Interviews

Friday, February 10, 2012, 4:11 AM

A job interview is a tense interpersonal engagement.  The relationship is really an atypical situation but the stakes are quite high.  Even the most polished sales folks don’t get much practice being interviewed.  But, when the time comes, job seekers put on their best clothes and brightest smiles and hope to impress.

As an interviewer, your goal is to extract as much valuable information out a brief encounter and stake your interview skills on the new-hire’s success. The hiring decision packs a financial wallop if made well, or similarly if made poorly.

The best approach to a job interview with sales personnel is to get a vision of past sales success.  If you ask any job seeker what she “would do” in a given scenario, she will tell you what you want to hear.  However, if you ask detailed questions about past sales from prospect-to-contract stage, you get a good feeling for a salesperson’s prospecting skills, how they approach and work with customers, what type ofrelationships are built, and how they deal with pricing pressure, among other things.

You can get a good sense for a person’s sales skill set and how success is achieved by asking many questions about what she’s done, not about what she’ll do.  Most people repeat behavior, over and over again.  Get the job seeker to paint a clear picture of their behavior.  That picture is worth a thousand interview words.  Then, get professional references from past customers and call them all.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.