How to Interview Salespeople

Salespeople Interview Tips

Interviewing for a salespeople requires a different approach to interviewing for other roles.

Salespeople are naturally good in interviews.  They typically have the gift of the gab, they feed off the pressure under the spotlight and the really good ones are prepped with their activity, data and numbers – they know what makes them successful.

Interviewing Salespeople Needs a Different Approach

These alpha wolves relish letting you know about their strengths and weaknesses (workaholic, anyone?), and lick their lips if you hand over control at the outset by kicking off with ‘tell me about yourself’.  You can rest assured they have their example ready to the age old question – ‘give me an example of a time when you’ve been successful and what you’ve learned’.

So how do you flip the script?  In a non Wall Street I wanna catch you out, I’m gonna nail you to the wall kind of way?

Because when unemployment rates are at a record low, you need to not only assess if they will excel in your company, but you also need to quickly build rapport in a way that doesn’t have the candidate powering up their negative Glassdoor review as they are heading down in the lift!

But equally – your annual bonus is in the balance here; are you prepared to gamble it on the same interview script that every peer of yours in the leadership team uses?

Trust as a Valuable Currency: Unpacking the Importance of Connectedness

In Janine Garner’s book Its Who You Know, the currency of trust is solely built on quality, not quantity.  

Trust trumps global pandemics, tight economies and trust can be leveraged by emerging or non market leading organisations.

So if we know trust is a priceless commodity, it is imperative we screen for how connected our candidate is.  

But before we start hammering questions at our candidate, the real key to achieving the magic mix of rapport and realness is vulnerability.  


Vulnerability in an interview means you set up the question by sharing your own skill in the area you are assessing.  

So when I assess trust and connectedness, I will say ‘Adrian, I’ve been interviewing for sales leaders for 25 years and have made so many mistakes along the way.  One of the biggest would have to be building relationships solely with individuals, not with the broader organisation which has made my ongoing sales deals super vulnerable, and so I always love to share this learning with the people I meet and explore it further.  Would that be ok with you?

  1. At which two organisations (outside of your own) do you know the most people?  How have you built these networks?
  1. Who is the smartest person you know personally?  What is it that you admire about them?
  1. Tell me about the relationships you’ve had with the people you’ve worked with.  How would you describe the best relationships?  What about the worst?

‘Mistakes I’ve made’ is prob my all time fave statement in an interview.  

You share your sh*t, the other party will feel permitted to share theirs!  Then it’s just your job to work out whether the mistake is coachable.

If you’d like to discuss your interview structure for high performing salespeople, reach out to The Sales Recruiter on (02) 9899 4455 or contact us today!

Read Also: Why Engaging the Right Sales Recruiter is Key to High Performance

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