Five Keys to Acing the In-Person Sales Interview

Here is a brief “micro list” to review before meeting with a prospective employer face to face. The purpose of this list is to remind you of your role in the interview process and to help you put your best foot forward.

 #1: Be Conscientious—If you are flying out for an interview, be mindful of travel expenses. I had a candidate once who ordered a $100 bottle of wine with his meal. Although he was in NYC, this seemed a little over the top for our clients preference. I’m not saying don’t have the wine, just don’t turn it in on your expense report and expect to get the job.

#2: Get Prepared­—Some of the world’s best salespeople have built exceptional careers relying purely on gut instinct. I would not promote this strategy when interviewing. Preparation is a minimum expectation. Today, now more than ever, there is absolutely no reason not to do your homework. It is required.

Don’t show up to the interview without taking the time to do both internet and direct research on your prospective employer. References will eventually be checked and most likely a background report will be pulled, so get your references ready and make sure your resume is accurate and up to date.

#3: Use Active Listening—When you are gifted with extraordinary communication skills it can become easier to talk than to listen. You can jump in and verbalize like a world class athlete at the top of their game. However, you need to know when to hold back, when to subvert your personality and use your active listening skills.

Everything you do in the interview will be used to assess your ability to interface with clients. If you spend more than 45% of the time talking, things aren’t going as well as you may think.

 #4: Demonstrate Enthusiasm—Like attracts like. The more excited you are, the more excited they are. People want to hire prospective employees that are enthusiastic about sales, what they do and how they do it.

We have seen people passed over time and time again in the interview process for “lack of enthusiasm.”

#5: Just the Facts—Salespeople are often perceived as the “story tellers.” Keep in mind that some interview questions require stories and examples for answers.

Others just require the facts. A good rule of thumb is to answer numbers oriented questions with just hard cold numbers, and answer questions that begins with “Tell me about”, or “how” or “why” with a short story if appropriate and time permits.  See the following Q&As:

Q: What did you W2 last year? What is your average deal size?

A: Just the facts please.

Q: Tell me about your most challenging client …Why did you leave your former employer?

A: Examples, stories, etc... are appropriate here. Keep them short and crisp.

Chances are that you will have one interview with most companies three to five times. Most of this is about looking for consistency in your answers and the rest of the redundancy is simply because most people conduct interviews use the same techniques.  Don’t allow yourself to get stale or become bored during the process because of repetitive questions.

 

Interviewing is Effort Intensive and Time Consuming: But You’re Worth It

Once you’re sitting in front of a hiring manager, it’s your job to get. Next time you have an interview, review this list and put this information into practice.

Giving your best interview takes effort, careful preparation, and endless research. Yet once you put these tips in action, you’ll be more likely to land the right sales job with the employer of your choice!

The hard part is what separates the good from the great.
— Noah Kagen, AppSumo