Your interview with a potential hire is a make-or-break moment for your company. A great resume is a good starting place, but it’s little more than that. To really learn about a candidate, quality interview questions are essential. As a sales manager, it’s your responsibility to thoroughly assess the candidate and make sure they are a fit for the position in your company. The questions we do and don’t ask during an interview can result in finding the best talent or in getting an inaccurate assessment of the candidate. Here are four questions to help get the most out of your interviews:
In which areas of your sales career are there room for improvement?
This is similar to the popular interview question, “what are your weaknesses?”. Depending on the position you’re hiring for, sometimes the more areas a candidate can pinpoint, the better. This shows you if he can be self-aware enough about his own career path to continually focus on improvement, if he can identify challenges specifically, if he sets goals for himself, and if he is motivated to learn. The answers to this question can show which candidates see this as simply a money-making job and which are passionate about an engaging career.
Why did you choose to apply to this company, and do you see any areas in which the company could improve?
This question can help you gauge your candidate’s interest in your specific company, not just in getting a job. If they know little about the company and only have general reasons for their desire to work for you, chances are they have a handful of other interviews lined up as well. This isn’t necessarily a reason to rule someone out, but it will let candidates who are passionate about your company make that clear to you.
It also lets you see if a candidate can think on a larger scale, in terms of company improvement and success, not just their own, and if their work is likely to reflect a real investment in the company as a whole. Candidates who want to suck up to the interviewer may not give much in terms of ways to improve, but those who are truly passionate about their work will be honest about ideas they could bring to the company, and that is a valuable trait.
Tell me about a time when you handled a difficult client or sales responsibility. What did you learn from the experience?
In sales, there are always hurdles and challenges associated with the job. This question gives you a chance to assess drive, honesty, and resilience in applicants. Pay attention to what the candidate focuses on here. Is it the annoying client? The lazy coworker? The bad manager? Or is it how he took responsibility? What he gained from the experience? The way in which the candidate presents his answer to you will tell you a lot. Look out for a candidate who briefly mentions the difficulty he faced and expounds on how he handled the challenge and what he learned from it.
What traits do you believe the best sales representatives possess and how are these present in your own work?
This question shows you how high the candidate sets the bar for success. It shows you which skills they value and which areas of their job they find the most important. It allows them to highlight what they do best. Though it also gives them a chance to unintentionally imply they don’t have room for improvement. Look out for candidates who think they already possess every necessary quality and don’t note any room to learn or grow.
These are all very open-ended questions. Encourage your candidate to take some time to reflect before answering and to go into detail. Your questions will set a framework, but let the candidate build the rest of the picture for you with his response. These four questions can help to illuminate some of the most important qualities in a potential hire – genuine interest and passion and willingness to improve and grow.