10 Questions Sales Hiring Managers Should Prepare to Answer in an Interview
In 2021, more than 4 million people left their jobs in one month alone, even amid the pandemic. Even worse, job tenure is teetering at around 1.6 years, with sales reps churning 3x more than any other position. With this mass exodus of employees and the increase of remote work, employers must shift their focus away from happy hours and ping-pong tables toward building a world-class culture of innovative hiring, onboarding and training strategies that enable employees for long-term success.
There’s no shortage of opportunities out there for AEs to pick from but hiring is a two-way street. To understand the trends we’re seeing and how to address them, we sat down with Amy Volas, the founder of Avenue Talent Partners and Co-founder of the #1 weekly virtual sales happy hour, Thursday Night Sales, for a deep dive into this topic (watch the full webinar here).
In the webinar, Amy discussed how being prepared to address the following questions will help you ensure there’s a solid fit on both ends:
- “Why” are sales reps successful in your organization?
When a candidate asks this question they show tremendous potential and are looking for more insight into how you treat your team; how sales reps are perceived in the organization; how they are trained and what resources they will have access to. It’s easy to say they are successful because they have a great onboarding playbook or a mentor, but the “why” shows they want to know what you, the employer, do, to ensure their success and how you will empower them in their role. Conversely, it also shows that the prospective employee is thinking way beyond the first 90 days and truly evaluating your tech stack, your processes, your team strategy, etc.
- Conversely, why aren’t people successful?
This question may give a hiring manager pause, but is one you should be prepared to answer. Shifting blame to the rep isn’t always the right answer either. No organization is perfect and it’s okay to admit past mistakes. If you feel like there is room for suggestion or improvement, don’t be afraid to discuss it here if there is a way to identify gaps and disclose how the company is working to improve them. Transparency is key on both sides of the interview.
- How do you invest in your people?
The sales rep wants to know what tools and resources are available to them; what training will they receive, what are the onboarding and long-term learning programs you offer, how are they measured, and how will the candidate be rewarded or compensated for a job well done. This is a great time to dig deeper into the tech stack and tools you offer rather than just a commission structure. When a candidate uses words like “invest” they are looking long-term for a role and company where they can equally invest themselves in and not just a job.
- Everybody has a favorite sales rep. What do you like most about your top sales rep? Professionally and Personally?
If asked this question, it shows the candidate is interested in your management style, what you’re looking for in a rep, and how you identify success. It shows insight into their growth mindset and eagerness to be a top performer. Personally speaking, they are looking for things they might have in common with you and or what is important to you as an individual.
- What do you like to do outside of work?
Similar to number four, this question is designed to see if your personalities would align. It’s an easy way for a candidate to find some common ground and ensure they will have something to talk about with their manager. It provides a way to glean insight into what you do to de-stress, and shows that the candidate places a high value in relationships made at work.
- What are your highest priorities in the next six months?
This question shows that the candidate is looking to come in and make an immediate impact. They are interested in knowing where the top opportunities may lie and how they can help you get there.
- Why do your customers buy from you and why don’t they buy from you?
This question is impressive as it shows that the candidate wants to know more about how you, the company and hiring manager, perceive your product market fit and where it may or may not work. Think of it as an opportunity to share your strengths and weaknesses around selling and discover if the candidate could be a good fit for the gaps.
- How do you lead remote teams and can you speak to their success?
With so many remote work options and hybrid workplaces now becoming a permanent part of the professional landscape, employees want to know how they can be successful in this new environment. For younger SDRs who’ve never worked remotely, how do you engage with them versus a seasoned rep who can work on any team? This question shows that an employee wants to be part of the team, effective, and successful but needs reassurance that you can lead them regardless of location. HINT: Hiring managers can also flip this to ask what the candidate needs to be successful in a remote environment or what their working preference may be.
Flip The Script
As a hiring manager, it’s time to get away from the behavioral questions and open the door for discovery to find out how candidates can handle challenges and adversity, professionally speaking. Don’t be afraid to dig into the following:
- Tell me about an event that defines you?
There’s no perfect answer for this question, but it allows the candidate to open up (if comfortable) and give a glimpse into their growth mindset. It’s more than “tell me about a time you overcame adversity,” because you’ll learn more as to what they feel is important in life, be it a difficult time or a personal celebration, and how it defines them.
- What questions do you have for me?
Sometimes this can be a leading question to ask before the interview really even kicks off. It’s not traditional, but it’s a good way to measure the growth mindset of the candidate. If they have no questions, or haven’t done much more than skim your website, then it’s a waste of your time. Look for candidates who are asking more about product market fit, your roadmap, plans for growth of the sales team, the investments you make . These will often show more about their maturity in the profession than the number of years reflected in a resume.
Today’s modern workforce is a far cry from just a few years ago and requires a completely new approach to attracting and hiring the best sales team. To learn more about how you can train and retain your top sales reps with the leading enablement platform, sign up for a Spekit demo today.
About the Author
Mel is the CEO and Co-founder of Spekit, a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, Entrepreneur’s Top 100 Women of Influence, and featured across Crunchbase, Fast Company, Business Insider, and more. She is leading the revolution to shatter the glass ceiling and unleash the full potential of every employee. Learn more ->