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What to look for in sales candidates

Unlike other professions, salespeople may come from various academic and professional backgrounds. It’s also important that they have certain soft skills that are often intangible, such as negotiation and communication abilities. Therefore it’s challenging to evaluate salespeople based solely on their resume and typical qualifications. You need to meet with candidates, learn about their professional interests and strengths and see how they’d react in realistic sales scenarios. That’s why sales interview questions can help you discover candidates’ true potential.

Which are the best interview questions for salespeople?

Sales teams are pillars for companies that want to grow their profitability. From sales consultants, regional sales managers and sales executives to field sales representatives, call center agents and account managers, sales goals are common: promote the company’s products and services, meet sales quotas and identify new market opportunities. So, when you’re thinking about what sales interview questions to ask candidates, make sure you test how well they understand your industry and whether they have a go-getter mentality.

Regardless of the role’s seniority level, typical sales interview questions should help you identify candidates with a customer-oriented attitude, excellent communication skills and a drive to meet goals. You should also keep an eye out for candidates who are able to perform well in a team environment and collaborate with different people.

When you have a shortlist of candidates with these core qualities, tailor your questions to identify who would make a good fit for your specific job. For example:

  • Entry-level sales interview questions should be around your company vision and the products or services you sell. This way, you can select candidates who show the most interest in selling your products.
  • For account management positions, you should ask questions that allow candidates to showcase their negotiation and relationship-building skills.
  • Senior sales interview questions should test candidates’ leadership and decision-making abilities.
  • For inside sales roles, interview questions should focus on technical know-how and communication skills.

In any case, make sure that you ask a mix of industry-specific and behavioral sales interview questions, so that you identify and hire salespeople who have adequate knowledge to tackle their tasks, but are also interested in a career in sales.

Top sales interview questions to ask

1. For every sales role

  • Have you worked with Salesforce.com? What other CRM software do you know?
  • Are you familiar with market analysis? What is it?
  • Walk me through a successful sales process. What is your role?
  • What information do you need before communicating with a client?
  • Describe a situation where you failed to reach a sales goal. What happened and what did you learn from that experience?
  • Describe a time when you collaborated with your team to close a deal. What was your role in the process?
  • What is more important: achieving quotas or keeping clients satisfied?
  • When do you stop pursuing a customer, and why?
  • What are some common hurdles you face in this position? How do you handle them?
  • What do you find most rewarding about working in sales?

2. For entry-level sales positions


  • Describe your experience in retail.
  • How do you ensure all customers leave satisfied?
  • Are you familiar with our products? Which one would you most enjoy selling and why?
  • How would you handle a customer who complained that they couldn’t find a product in your store?

Call center

  • What’s your flexibility in working different shifts?
  • Describe a time when you managed to calm down an angry client.
  • What do you do if you didn’t know the answer to a customer’s question?
  • This job can be repetitive. How do you stay motivated? What do you hope to get out of this role?

3. For account management positions

  • If a client told you that they liked our product but it’s too expensive, how would you turn them around?
  • What’s a deal you closed that you’re mostly proud of, and why?
  • What’s your track record in delivering on revenue targets and customer satisfaction rates?
  • How would you find new clients?

4. For senior level sales positions, including inside sales

  • How do you handle conflicts on your team?
  • How do you approach a sales representative who is underperforming?
  • What’s your experience in forecasting sales? Name any tools and software that you use.
  • Describe a time when your team didn’t manage to achieve sales quotas. What was your role in that experience? What did you learn, and what did you do differently for the next round of sales quotas?
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Looking for more questions to ask your candidates in an interview?

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