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Inside Sales Interview Questions [VIDEO]

by Matt Bertuzzi on Tue, Oct 04, 2011


I recently ran across this question on a group on LinkedIn:

What are some of the best questions you feel should be asked during a Sales interview?

Judging by the 162 (to date) responses, this is a hot topic. So I asked around and put together some interesting Inside Sales interview questions. A few folks were kind enough to share their favorite questions and the rationale behind them:

What do you know about us? What do you know about me?

This is a twist on the standard, did they do their homework question. It lets you see how well prepared they are & how confortable they are using publically available data. Did they do the research on you as well as the company or did they just show up and throw up?

What are your hobbies outside the office?

Mike Damphousse, Green Leads
Mike shares that responses to this question give insight into how a candidate ticks.  For example, fantasy footballers might have the competitive drive you’re looking for while musicians & artists might possess creativity in a sales situation.

For your current role, walk me through the typical stages of a sale.

You want to make sure they understand and are able to communicate the sales process at their current job. How do they describe that process? Is it all about the steps that they take (e.g. initial presentation, demo, proposal)? Or, actions that their buyers take (expressed curiosity, discussed solution, gave access to all players, etc.)?

When was the last time you were competitive?

Kevin Gaither, Inside Sales Recruiting
Kevin advises asking the candidate to get specific and to not be satisfied with generalities around “always having to being competitive in Sales.” He argues that you have to dig deep and really listen to determine if this person is truly competitive or not.

How do you measure yourself? What personal metric are you most proud of?

You want to know how the candidate thinks in terms of results and the steps that get them there. Do they know the actions that are leading to their success?

Thinking about the last really great voicemail you left. Can you recreate it for me?

Voicemail is a huge part of an inside sales role. Listen to how they message. Are they clear and concise?  Is the message buyer-problem aligned?

Tell me about a specific call where the prospect wasn't talking much? Specifically, what did you do to get them to be more engaged?

Bruce Allen, Point B Search
Bruce’s point is dead-on. In both outbound prospecting and lead qualification, you are often catching a prospect cold. How do they respond when a prospect isn’t giving them much to work with?

How do you define Inside Sales?

I’m a big fan of hearing people describe what it is they do every day. Are they passionate or do they sound bored? Compare what you’re hearing with what they’ll be doing for you day to day.

How do you respond to your competition meeting a key prospect in person?

Mark RodmanXtraEffort Solutions
Mark shares that if you’re hiring for an Inside Sales role, you want to be sure that your candidate understands they will be spending the majority (if not entirety) of their time selling over the phone & web. How they’d handle that situation will give you valuable insight.

At what point do you stop calling a lead?

For many, this issue is religion – they either stalk prospects to the ends of the Earth or try them twice and move on. How does their response align with your methodology? Can you really train them to go against what’s in their DNA?

Who do you think are the top 5 internet retailers?

You should target the question to your specific market (e.g. largest hospitals, software companies, insurers, etc.). Their response should give you an understanding of their wider business knowledge

What’s the most recent Sales book you’ve read? What do you do personally for your professional development?

Anne Kelly, BuyerZone
Anne shares that you’ll be able to learn what this individual does to grow themselves as a Sales Professional. If they haven’t read anything recently, or aren’t able to share key takeaways, is this really an individual you want to continue interviewing?

What’s the favorite thing you’ve bought over the past few months? How would you sell me on it?

Hopefully you’ll hear some excitement & passion about their new favorite toy. Better still, they might ask you some questions and get you to discover a need you didn’t even know you had.

(Idea) After the interviews, have the candidate shadow one of your Reps.

Steve Richard, Vorsight
Steve shares that by doing this, candidates tend to lower their guards and take off their "game face." If the candidate isn't enthusiastic and asking questions of the Rep they are shadowing, Steve suggests you might be looking at someone who is just looking for a job - and definitely not a Sales job.

What didn’t we cover that you’d like to discuss?

Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group, Inc.
Trish suggests giving the candidate the opportunity to bring closure to interview. It can give you interesting insight into their priorities and motivations.

What are some of your best, favorite or most unique interview questions? This is a great opportunity to share with community and I'm really looking forward to hearing your ideas. Thanks!

Photo by stitch.

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Topics: ask the experts, inside sales hiring

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