Asking the right questions in an interview is perhaps more important than you would imagine. Delivering questions to the interviewer can be the basis for establishing yourself as a lead candidate for a sales position – standing out from the crowd by asking relevant and pertinent questions.
However, this works both ways. The whole aim of asking questions is to find out more about the hiring company, and ultimately to find out whether this is the right sales opportunity for you. Therefore, when the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions for me?” take advantage of this.
We have put together 15 questions every candidate should be asking in an interview. You may think that this sounds like a lot, but bear in mind you won’t need to ask every question as a lot of this information should have been qualified beforehand, leaving you to pick from any unanswered questions….
1. Why is this position open?
The most obvious question that needs to be asked. What is the reason for the vacancy? Is it because the present incumbent resigned, or was promoted? The answer to this simple question can give you an insight into the employer.
2. What key skills and experience are you looking for in the role?
At Sydney Brookes, we always advise sales candidates to treat the interview like a business meeting (what are their needs?). Find out what the employer is looking for and not looking for, then you will find it easier to sell yourself back. It will also indicate to you if you do have the experience and skills to do the job.
3. What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this position?
It’s great to find out what makes the previous employee/sales team great at what they do and sell yourself accordingly. However, find out what the decision maker would like to see done differently. If the result is a complete U-turn to how you like to do things, then you may have an easy decision to make.
4. What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this role?
This is a great question that will give you a clear road map about what it will take to be successful in the role. The overall goal might be something you have already achieved, or it might come across as unrealistic if you know the workings of the industry. It will also give the employer the welcomed opportunity to communicate what they want – and subconsciously be thanking you for asking the question, which develops rapport.
5. What are some of the more difficult problems/challenges one would have to face in this position?
If the interviewer says, "There aren't any", you should proceed with caution. Overcoming problems and challenges can sometimes be a daily occurrence in any sales position, so if the interviewer tries to suggest there aren’t any, then they are probably hiding something.
6. What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing at the firm?
This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you're a good fit for the position. Imagine picturing in your mind what the interviewer is looking for.
7. What type of support does this position receive in terms of people, finances. etc?
Having the support to deliver what you promise your clients is key. One reason I have seen over the years in recruitment for why candidates are looking has been the lack of support received. It’s all good making sales, winning new business or growing existing accounts, but if the support is not there to deliver then soon your clients won’t be there either.
8. What progression opportunities are available for the person who is successful in this position, and within what time frame?
A question you must ask! Many reasons why candidates are looking in the first place is because they hit a glass ceiling, and there is no opportunity for progression. It is important to understand exactly what opportunities there will be in the future if you succeed. Be careful though, always reiterate that you are patient and understand progression is not an overnight thing. Otherwise, you might turn the employer off by suggesting you are after their job!
9. In what ways has this organisation been most successful in terms of products and services over the years?
Classic reverse psychology question. Put the employer on the back foot and get them to sell themselves back to you. If they come up short in their response, perhaps you need to think about drilling down more about their results and achievements as a business.
10. What significant changes do you foresee in the near future?
Very important to understand how the business will look in 6, 12, 18 months. It certainly will be different than what it is like today. However, will it be for the better or worse? Is there talk of a merger or acquisition that would add insecurity to your potential role? Is there talk of further growth which could lead to career progression opportunities?
11. What accounts for success within the company?
A good way of leading the employer to talk more about rewards and benefits of the sales position. You are not directly asking “how much money will I make”, but you are qualifying what you need to do in order to achieve this.
12. What would say are your USPs (Unique Selling Points)?
Similar to question 9, this puts the employer on the back foot and encourages them to sell themselves back to you. The more USPs they can roll off the tongue, the better you will think the products will be to sell. Be careful how you ask this – you don’t want them to respond with “Do you not know that we are number 1 in the market??” Maybe prelude the question with “I know you are number 1 in the market, but what other USPs would you say you have?”
13. Do you have any reservations at this point?
Always close, especially in an interview for a sales position. As part of a close, ask this reservations question. It is a more positive way of asking “what doubts do you have?” The reason why you should always ask this question is so the interviewer doesn’t leave the interview with any doubts about you in their mind. If they do have one or two reservations, find out what they are and overcome them. The reservation may be a simple misunderstanding or something easily overcome.
14. What is the next stage?
Once you have overcome any reservations, or there aren’t any then ask what the next stage will be. Say you found this meeting to be very informative and you feel excited by this prospect. If you feel it has gone extremely well, don’t be afraid to drop in a bit of fear of loss – “I have a few other opportunities I am waiting to hear back from, but this sounds like the perfect fit… what is the next stage?”
15. Always back up their answers with examples
Ok, so this is not a question. I wanted to reinforce that when the employer answers your questions, make sure you respond back with proven examples of what you have done in the past related to this. It will reinforce to the client that you are the right candidate for the job!
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