10 Sales Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

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

[Featured Image] A job candidate in glasses answers sales interview questions.

An upcoming sales interview is an exciting opportunity to explore career options, land a job you love, and create meaningful customer relationships. Whether your interview is for your first sales position or an advanced role requiring sales experience, 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 sales. 

  • 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 during the interview and tips for preparing for your interview experience. 

10 sales interview questions   

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

1. Why does sales interest you?

Interviewers ask this version of “Why sales” question to get an idea of your sales experience and specific ideas for how you will thrive in the field.

How 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 test your knowledge 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.  

How to answer: 

  • Be well aware of 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.  

  • Research competitive products and look for specific differences. 

  • Purchase a few products and experience them yourself. 

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

  • Prepare to discuss how you can use your knowledge 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.

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 character, your preferences, and how you see yourself as a salesperson.   

How to answer: 

  • Reflect on the qualities you 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 leverage 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. How would you sell this product to me? 

Interviewers ask this question to witness your sales potential, performance under pressure, and method of presenting the product to a potential customer. 

How to answer: 

  • Research the company’s target customers, pain points, goals, and product experiences. 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?”

  • “How would you make me buy?”

6. Can you explain your experience with sales technologies you have used? 

Interviewers ask this question to discover your familiarity with sales technologies, including whether you’ll need training to use the company's programs 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 you don’t have experience using in the company's industry. 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 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 fully understand 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 afterwards 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 customer encounters, your communication style, and how you might bring this approach to the company’s sales process.  

How to answer: 

  • Reflect on customer encounters 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, emphasise 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? 

Interviewers ask this question to understand how you operate beyond mastering the sales processes and meeting your goals. Keeping up with trends, including new technologies and the latest research on consumer behaviour, 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 training 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 you might not be aware of and familiarise yourself with the resource where you learned about these trends. 

  • Prepare to share your learnings with interviewers and your ideas for applying 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: 

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

4 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:  

1. What are the characteristics of your top salespeople?

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

2. What types of objections do your reps typically face?

Overcoming customer 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 customers and overcome their objections. 

3. 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 method of guiding customers towards 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. 

4. What technology do you use?

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

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 (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) answers to behavioural and situational questions. 

  6. Select appropriate interview attire.

Master sales with Coursera

Online courses can be great ways 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? Consider Coursera learning experiences from industry leaders like HubSpot and Salesforce

Article sources

1. Payscale. “Average Sales Representative Salary in India, https://www.payscale.com/research/IN/Job=Sales_Representative/Salary.” Accessed October 17, 2023.

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