10 Sales Interview Questions and Answers

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover interview questions you might encounter when interviewing for a sales position and how to prepare for an upcoming interview.

[Featured Image]: A woman with glasses is interviewing a man in a white shirt.

What you should know about sales interviews

An upcoming sales interview is an exciting opportunity to explore career opportunities, land a job you love, and create meaningful relationships with customers. Whether your interview is for a first sales position or an advanced role requiring sales experience, it’s important to be mindful of how sales interviews work, how to prepare, and what questions you may encounter.  

An interview for a sales position may be different from other types of interviews in the following ways: 

  • You’ll need to demonstrate your skills and experience specific to selling. 

  • You’ll need to demonstrate familiarity with sales concepts, approaches, and terminology.  

  • Interviewers may ask you to mock sell something, like one of the company’s products, on the spot.  

  • You need to use body language and techniques that you’d use when selling to an actual customer, more so than you would when interviewing for a non-customer-facing job. 

Keep reading to discover interview questions employers may ask you, questions to ask during the interview, and tips for preparing for your interview experience.  

10 sales interview questions   

This section will explore 10 sales job interview questions, why interviewers ask them, how to form answers, and alternative phrasings to listen for. All 10 questions are focused on sales, but keep in mind that interviewers may also ask you general questions, such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” 

1. What interests you in [industry] sales?

Interviewers ask this version of the Why Sales interview question to get an idea of your experience in the field and your specific ideas for how you will thrive in it [1].

To answer: 

  • Research the industry, including top brands, buyer personas, trends, and growth. 

  • Research common sales strategies in this industry. 

  • Prepare to describe what you admire about the industry, what you want to learn, and how you plan to navigate it.  

  • Prepare to describe your plans for building relationships with consumers in this industry.  

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “Why sales?” 

  • “What got you into sales?”

  • “Why do you want to work in sales?”

2. What interests you most about selling our products? 

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your knowledge of and experience with the products and whether you like them and believe in their value. Your answer can offer them insights into how authentic you can be when selling the products to customers.  

To answer: 

  • Scour the company’s products and services page and gather details on what each one does, how it works, how it’s made, and the benefits and outcomes customers can expect.  

  • If possible, purchase a few of the products and experience them yourself. 

  • Prepare to draw upon your product knowledge or first-hand experience using the products to emphasize their value. 

  • Prepare to discuss how you can use your knowledge of and experience with the products in your sales process.   

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “What do you like about our products?” 

  • “What do you think of our products?”

3. What past experiences make you good at sales?

Interviewers ask this question to learn more about your past experiences and understand your sales potential [2].

How to answer: 

  • Reflect on prior experiences—your sales background, other professional experience, your academic history, and personal experiences—and jot down specific instances that could relate to sales. For example, prior experience writing product descriptions for an e-commerce company could help you describe products more skillfully as a sales rep. 

  • Prepare to discuss your learnings from each experience and how you can apply them to the position you want to fill. 

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “Tell me about your sales experience.”

  • “What’s your background in sales?”

  • “What kind of sales jobs have you had?”

4. What traits do you have that make you good at sales?

Interviewers ask this question to learn more about your internal qualities and how you see yourself as a salesperson.   

How to answer: 

  • Reflect on the qualities you most admire about yourself and how they relate to sales. Examples might include empathy, which helps you understand customers better, or diligence, which helps you follow up with prospects and close deals. 

  • Prepare to describe specific sales scenarios when you leveraged these traits to succeed. 

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “What makes you good at sales?”

  • “What qualities does someone need to be good at sales?”

5. Sell our product to me. 

Interviewers ask this question to witness your sales potential in action, how you perform under pressure, and your method of presenting the product to a potential customer. 

How to answer: 

  • Research the company’s target customer, their pain points, goals, and experiences with the products. You can find out a good bit by reviewing the company’s social media accounts, reading followers’ comments on posts and any online customer reviews.  

  • Review your notes from researching and experiencing the company’s products, especially their benefits and outcomes.  

  • Reflect on your past sales successes and prepare to walk your interviewer through a sales conversation. 

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “How would you sell this product to one of our customers?”

  • “Sell me this product.”

6. What sales technologies do you have experience using? 

Interviewers ask this question to discover your familiarity with sales technologies, including whether you’ll need training to use the programs that the company uses to sell products. 

How to answer: 

  • Make a list of sales technologies you’ve used and details of your experience with them. What were you able to accomplish using them? How did they make the sales process easier?

  • Investigate the latest technologies in the company’s industry that you don’t have experience using. Write down your questions about them, what interests you, and your ideas for how you might use them. 

  • Prepare to answer honestly about your sales technology experience and discuss which tools the company may want you to use. 

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “Have you used [technology] before?”

  • “How comfortable are you with [technology]?”

7. Tell me about a time when you met your sales goals. 

Interviewers ask this question to get a sense of your past sales success, how you set and meet goals, and the kind of success you may be able to bring to the company. 

How to answer: 

  • Reflect on your sales experience and the goals you’ve been able to meet. Write down the details in quantifiable terms, such as the goal sales volume. 

  • Prepare to tell a story about the sales situation, the goal, and the actions you took to meet the goal. 

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “What sales experiences are you most proud of?”

  • “Tell me about a sale you closed or a goal you met.”

8. Tell me about a time when you did not meet your sales goals.

Interviewers ask this question to get a fuller picture of your sales experience and how you recover from setbacks. 

How to answer:

  • As with telling a story about successfully meeting goals, take some time to reflect on your unmet sales goals.  

  • Prepare to tell a story about the sales situation: What was the challenge? What factors prevented you from meeting the goals? What did you do in the aftermath to get back on track? What did you learn from the experience? 

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “Describe a time when you did not close a deal or meet a sales goal.”

  • “What do you do when a sales situation doesn’t go as planned?”

9. How do you build rapport with customers? 

Interviewers ask this question to understand how you approach encounters with customers, your communication style, and how you might bring this approach to the company’s sales process.  

How to answer: 

  • Reflect on encounters with customers that resulted in a good rapport and closing the sales. What details of your communication style contributed to these successes? 

  • Prepare to tell a story about these specific encounters, emphasize details of your communication style, along with your analysis of why your communication style worked. 

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “What’s the best way to talk with customers and build relationships with them?”

  • “Tell me about a time when you established a good relationship with a customer and it resulted in a sale.” 

10. How do you keep up with sales trends in [industry]?

Interviewers ask this question to understand how you operate in sales beyond mastering the sales processes and meeting your goals. Keeping up with trends, including new technologies and the latest research on consumer behavior, can greatly contribute to your career development. 

How to answer: 

  • Make a list of sales educational resources you subscribe to, trade journals you read, classes or trainings you’ve taken, and sales influencers you follow. 

  • Reflect on what you’ve learned from the above. If possible, take a moment to investigate sales trends in your industry that you might not be aware of, and familiarize yourself with the resource where you learned about these trends. 

  • Prepare to share your learnings with interviewers and your ideas for how you can apply these learnings to the job you’re applying for. 

Other forms this question might take: 

  • “What do you do to learn more about sales?”

  • “What do you do to stay current with the latest sales techniques?”

For more ideas on telling stories to captivate your sales interviewers, hear from Mandy Bynum, CEO and Founder of a consulting firm, who has interviewed over 2,000 candidates for entry-level sales roles: 

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Tell your sales story so that interviewers can imagine it, understand the theme, and connect that story to how it can help them in their business.

Questions to ask in a sales interview 

Most interviewers will invite you to ask questions throughout the interview and at the end. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your interest in the company, enthusiasm for the role, and commitment to making an empowered sales career decision. Draw from the example questions below to prepare your questions:  

What are the characteristics of your top salespeople?

Asking this question can give you insights into the skills and traits that lead to good sales performance. With these insights, you can refine your sales characteristics and cultivate new ones for success in the position you’re applying for. In addition, it shows interviewers that you are interested in finding out if you’re a good fit for the position. 

What types of objections do your reps typically face?

Overcoming customers’ objections when selling is an important part of the sales process and a skill that any sales professional should build. Asking this question shows that you want to understand the company’s target customer and overcome their objections with success. 

What’s your sales process?

Having an effective sales process can increase your conversion rate. Many companies or sales teams will train their staff to use a specific process of guiding customers toward a purchase decision. Asking this question demonstrates your conscientious sales mindset and can give you insights into whether your sales approaches align with the company. 

What technologies do you use?

In many industries, much of the sales process—from lead generation to data management—is being automated in various programs and apps, requiring sales professionals to become proficient at using them. Asking this question shows that you want to be on the cutting edge of sales technology, that you are mindful of the company’s sales process, and that you want to become efficient at selling. 

Read more: Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview

How to prepare for a sales interview 

In addition to preparing for sales interview questions, you’ll also need to prepare for the interview experience. Use these six sales interview tips to boost your confidence and present your value to an employer:  

  1. Research the sales role, particularly for the industry you’re applying to work in.

  2. Research the company you want to work for.

  3. Investigate the company’s sales strategy and goals.

  4. Review your sales achievements in previous roles.

  5. Practice STAR answers to behavioral and situational questions. 

  6. Select appropriate interview attire.

Read more: How to Prepare for an Interview 

Master sales with Coursera

Taking online courses can be a great way to build skills and discover the latest strategies in sales. Want to earn the attention of more customers, qualify leads more effectively, scale your efforts with sales software, and more? Check out these Coursera learning experiences from industry leaders, Hubspot and Salesforce: 

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  Article Sources

  1. Indeed.  “Interview Questions: Why  do you want to Work in Sales?, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/why-do-you-want-to-work-in-sales Accessed April 22, 2022.

  2. The Balance Careers. “Interview Questions About Why You’re Good at Sales,   https://www.thebalancecareers.com/interview-questions-about-why-you-re-a-good-sales-person-2063464 Accessed April 22, 2022.

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