We hear all the time from our students: what are the best questions to ask in a sales interview specifically? It’s a perfectly legitimate inquiry, and it’s a great sign that you’re already preparing yourself for what lies ahead – while recognizing that you don’t have all the answers. By any measure, succeeding in the tech sales field depends on preparation because you need to demonstrate an air of confidence and knowledge at all times when speaking with prospects.
Every time you contact them, you’ll be representing the company and its brand, so a job interviewer’s top priority will be to judge your level of preparation for a sales role specifically. But you don’t have to sit back – maybe, a little nervous about speaking up – and have a one-sided conversation. It’s actually a fantastic idea to ask your interviewer questions as well to prove that you understand what’s at stake and that you’re also an active participant in the hiring process.
If you only freestyle and ask strictly conversational questions with no strategic aim, you may do more harm than good. At a minimum, the types of questions you ask your interviewer should cover critical topics like:
- The onboarding process
- How the company measures success
- Company culture and ethics
- Job roles and expectations
- The following steps in the hiring process
After all, it’s your choice whether or not this company will be a good fit for where you want your career to go. Here are 10 questions that you can ask to stand out and land the job during your next interview.
1 – How will you educate me on your product if hired?
Before we go any further, we need to stress that you need to rephrase each of the questions in this article in your own words. Your interviewer must be able to judge your personality as well as your sales persona, the image you want to project to prospects.
Asking about product education is also a perfect opportunity to get insights into the company’s onboarding process in general. Sometimes, you may not realize that you’ll have to complete a lengthy training period before you go into the field, so ask ahead of time what the company will expect from you.
One way to recast this question is to say something like, “I already know a lot about this product, but how can I take my knowledge to the next level if hired?”
2 – If I get the job, what’s the ramp-up time and training like?
Along those lines, you could ask a question about how long it’ll take to get you onboard if hired and what to expect during that training period. It’s an excellent way to gauge how the company plans to bring you into the fold.
Will the training take two weeks or six weeks? Will it last one day or one hour? It all depends on what the company believes will prepare you best for a sales role. If the company is a start-up, there might be very little onboarding at all; you’ll hit the ground running at full speed from day one!
One trick is to rephrase this question and casually sneak in a specified time frame, such as, “at my last job, I only received two or three days of training max, so will a sales role with this company offer more helpful onboarding?”
3 – Which software does your sales team use daily?
Inquiring about the company’s sales software of choice can show the interviewer that you won’t require a lot of hand-holding during the onboarding process. If you’re familiar with the software, you should immediately say that you already have prior knowledge of it.
But you have to make the question sound genuine and not like you’re trying to snoop around their IT infrastructure because, after all, you’re not hired quite yet!
You can recast this question by saying something to the effect of, “I like Salesforce and all, but I feel it’s not fast enough sometimes. What other software does the sales team like to use?”
4 – How do managers give out constructive criticism?
Next, questions covering how the company will measure success comes into play. In the strongest possible terms, we recommend that you clearly understand how a new employer will measure your performance. In the sales field, the cliché is: “it’s all about the numbers.”
While that’s mostly true, another facet we want you to inquire about is how the management team deals with uncomfortable situations like criticizing the team’s “numbers.”
The general rule of thumb is that it’s always best to praise before you criticize, yet we know all too well that not everyone feels the same way. Also, the best part about this question is that you can infer information about the onboarding process as well.
A cleverly circuitous way to rephrase this question might be, “I see that this company hires a lot of colorful, energetic personalities from all walks of life. But it can’t be laughs and high-fives all the time, so how do you handle it when you need to push back on the team’s performance?
5 – How do your most successful managers work with the team?
We want you to be very careful about how you ask this question because the person performing the interview may actually be your future manager. You don’t want to infer that they aren’t the successful type accidentally, so it’s best to take a gentle, subtle approach.
The goal is to determine what the company believes suffices for good management, which may not align with what you’re expecting. A fun way to recast this question would be to say, “I hope all of the managers are as knowledgeable as you are. Is that what makes them so successful in their role, or is there another way they motivate the team?
If your interviewer cracks a smile and raises an eyebrow, you’ve done your job.
6 – What’s the culture like overall?
Moving along, we come to questions about the company’s culture, and of all things you could ask during an interview, these questions are most difficult to answer – but why?
Company culture is already an amorphous concept with no particular definition aside from what it means to one specific company. Still, generally speaking, culture refers to the beliefs, attitudes, and world view of the company’s brand; ideally, all employees will succeed by buying into those brand values in their daily routines.
But ask anyone who’s worked in an office setting about culture, and they’ll tell you it sometimes develops a mind of its own. Of course, your interviewer isn’t going to say something like, “well, you know…we really don’t emphasize teamwork, so Fridays around here are great if you get your work done before everyone else. You’ll beat the traffic every time, buddy!”
Of all questions in this article, this one is the hardest to cue up ahead of time because you may have better results framing the question around something you learned during the interview. A sly way to inquire about company culture would be to say something like, “how’s the camaraderie between the sales team and the marketing team at this company?”
Pay very, very close attention to how your interviewer reacts unconsciously. If the person fidgets, clears their throat, gives an awkward pause, and then gives a stock answer, you’ll know you’ve touched a sore area – and should tread carefully hereafter.
7 – What’s the biggest challenge the company has had to overcome?
Furthermore, another tactic to find out how a company defines its culture is to ask about the challenges the business has overcome. Usually, a hiring manager can’t wait to answer a question like this, significantly if the company fell on hard times and managed to revive their brand.
But as we always teach our students, people don’t always react the way you expect, even when you give them a softball question. You’re looking for this culture-focused question to see whether or not the interview is being honest. It’s a red flag if they don’t have an answer, don’t want to answer, and have no intention of ever speaking of their difficulties.
A significant part of a sales role is to judge whether or not someone’s answers are genuine, so you could recast this question by asking, “has the company ever managed to turn a negative situation into a positive one?”
8 – What’s it like to work here every day?
We realize we said previously that you should recast these questions in your own words, but this inquiry is the sole exception. The idea is to try to glean information about what your role will be like if hired.
We can’t emphasize enough that there’s a vast difference between job role and job title. If you work for a start-up, you may have to wear several different hats and take on responsibilities on the fly.
If that’s what you’re looking for in a sales job, then kudos to you! But if you’re new to the sales field, you don’t want to take on a more prominent role than you’re ready for.
At a glance, it seems like this question would work well to learn about a company’s culture, but that’s not necessarily true. Note that you’re asking about your interviewer’s opinion of working for the company, not the company line.
9 – If you bring me on board, and I excel – what happens?
If you ask your interviewer this question just right, you might make the person laugh, and that’s a good thing. You want to show your personality and demonstrate it honestly because the interviewer doesn’t have a lot of time to judge you.
That’s why it’s so critical to make the interview feel like a business conversation, not an interrogation or an intervention. Honestly, we want you to be yourself, but if you can cast this question with a hint of humor, we’ve seen it work beautifully for some of our students.
You could quip and ask something like, “well, I know I won’t be taking your job any time soon, but what happens if I excel right away?”
10 – Final and most critical question: what are the next steps in the hiring process?
Disclaimer — this is the best of the questions to ask in a sales interview.
Even if you don’t manage to squeeze in any other questions in this article, please try to ask about the next steps in the hiring process. It’s such an easy win that we can’t emphasize how effective it is when you ask the question at just the right time in the interview. We want you to project an air of confidence and strength throughout the interview, and asking what comes next shows the interviewer that you’re still on board.
The idea is to maximize the time you spend speaking with the interviewer. When you ask about the hiring process, it’s a good idea to try to ask a follow-up question and keep the conversation flowing naturally. By engaging in a two-way conversation, your interviewer will be able to immediately tell whether or not you’re a good fit for the company.
Prepare better with Uvaro
Uvaro’s sales training course can help open up career opportunities in tech sales – a field you will love! We set our students up for success with the best training materials & real-life practices. If you ever thought sales was the path for you – this is the sign you’ve been looking for to start venturing into it.
Contact us today to learn more about the course and how you can start your journey into tech sales. The questions to ask in a sales interview is just one area to cover when trying to land the career of your dreams!