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Common Questions and Answers
Sales is one job category that tends to always be hiring, no matter what the rest of the job market looks like. But in order to get the best sales jobs, the ones where you get to work for exciting companies selling great products and make big bucks while you’re at it, you’ll need to prove your stuff to the hiring team.
Getting invited to do an interview is a huge step in the right direction, and you should be proud of yourself for making it this far (no doubt over the bodies of dozens of other salespeople whose resumes didn’t shine as well as yours did). But now that you’ve gotten this far you REALLY don’t want to blow it. So before you walk into that interview room, you’d better make some preparations.
For starters, you’ll want to be sure that you nail the all-important first impression. That means dressing for the job you want, with some serious attention to detail. Interviewers will assume that the way you look for your interview is the best you’ll ever look. And since appearances are a key part of any sales job, that means you need to look really good to reassure your potential employer. Always err on the side of being more formally dressed. Unless you know for a fact that everyone in that company wears shorts and T-shirts all the time, that means wearing a good suit to your interview. The suit should be clean, pressed, and totally without stains, missing buttons, etc. Remember, you’re aiming for a polished look. Ladies, don’t overprogram on jewelry — wear a few pieces if you like, but not so much as to look flashy. Gentlemen, leave the jewelry at home.
Once you’ve laid out that perfect outfit, it’s time to do some homework on your new company-to-be (you hope). Interviewers will be highly impressed if you have the dedication and initiative to research them ahead of time. This will also give you the opportunity to comment intelligently on whatever is happening in the company at this time. Many of the standard interview questions will give you perfect lead-ins to share your newly acquired knowledge. For example, if the interviewer asks why you want to work for the company, mention a recent success that they’ve had and talk about how excited you are to be involved with it.
You can also use this information to prepare some questions of your own. Most interviewers will give you the chance to ask them some questions, and you don’t want to waste the opportunity to sound good. It’s also an opportunity to learn a bit more about the company before you go any further in the hiring process. So if you found anything puzzling or unclear during your research, jot it down and ask about it.
Next, prepare your ‘sales tools.’ When you go to an appointment with a prospect you no doubt bring along brochures, samples, PowerPoint slides, etc. to add to your presentation. In the interview you’re selling yourself, so have your collateral handy. This can include letters of thanks from satisfied customers, awards and certifications, congratulatory emails or letters from your company mentioning a past success, and anything else that demonstrates your level of skill. Make copies of everything and put the copies in a folder or binder so that you can leave them with the interviewer.
Finally, prepare some good responses to the classic interview questions. This is especially important for questions that left you babbling in previous interviews. Write out your answers and read them aloud; this will help you to tell whether they sound right or not, and will also tend to make them stick better in your memory.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.