Situational interview questions are hypothetical questions that allow hiring and sales managers to assess various aspects of a candidate’s skills and personality without allowing candidates the advantage of responding with cookie-cutter answers. Let’s take a look at some of the top situational interview questions for sales and what a good response for each may look like.
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The Cost of a Bad Hire
Hiring the wrong sales rep can cost your business money—lots of money. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor cites that the cost of a bad hire is at least 30% of the employee’s earnings in the first year. With these numbers, it’s clear that hiring the wrong sales rep is one of the worst yet most common mistakes a business can make.
This is mainly due to the fact that hiring is typically done without adequate evaluation of the critical skills that are needed for the job. In fact, approximately 45% of hiring managers are unable to fill key positions due to a lack of qualified talent.
In addition to comprehensive candidate assessments, one solution to help improve the candidate screening process is the use of situational interview questions.
Use the Objective Management Group© Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator to calculate the potential cost of hiring mistakes for your business.
The Top 4 Situational Interview Questions
Here are some of the top situational interview questions that you can ask candidates for your sales team. We’ve included some insights into what the questions are really looking for as well as the elements of what may constitute a good response.
How Would You Handle A Lead Who Is Not Ready To Close?
This is one of the most crucial questions that a hiring manager can ask, especially considering how reps have to deal with varying sales cycles, depending on the business. The answer to this particular question can reveal the candidate’s service skills, ability to think outside the box, and communication skills. In particular, it can demonstrate how the rep is able to personalize the experience for each lead/prospect, which is a crucial aspect of sales today.
Assessing The Answer
A good answer may include something like: “I would start by trying to understand the specific pain points that the lead is currently facing. I would then try to explain, through various media such as a presentation, or a quick demo, how our solution works to address that specific problem. I would do this while taking into consideration their hesitation, and including their doubts into the presentation.”
What Was Your Longest Losing Streak? And How Did You Turn It Around?
Every salesperson goes through dry spells, where no matter what strategy they deploy, they just can’t seem to close a lead. Ideally, the candidate you are looking to hire takes pride in learning—and moving on from failures. This question can help to draw out a response to assess how honest the person is, how they cope with a demoralizing situation, and how much effort they are willing to put into salvaging a seemingly negative situation. Beware of anyone who claims to have never experienced a downturn, as this conveys a degree of ignorance—or even outright lies.
Assessing The Answer
A good answer to this question should include how the candidate explored the reason behind the downturn as well as the steps they took to eradicate such a behavior/habit. While self-motivation does help when faced with a slump, great salespeople look beyond the surface to see what caused it and how they can avoid it in the future.
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How Would You React If A Superior Criticized Your Work?
Considering the importance of sales to your organization, salespeople should be open to criticism from their superiors. How they react to criticism can help you assess their ability to take on feedback. The candidate’s answer to this question can reveal their ability to accept their flaws, learn, and grow. Remember, a candidate who is able to take criticism will also likely be emotionally mature.
Assessing The Answer
Sales is a ‘coaching’ job. When a superior criticizes their work, the best candidate is likely to take it as something positive that can help them grow. A great answer to this question will likely include a personal anecdote from the candidate describing an instance of criticism from their superiors and how they analyzed it to find and resolve flaws in the way they conduct business.
Owning up to mistakes and growing in the process is what contributes to a successful organization, and increased sales.
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How Would You Exceed Expectations In This Role?
When seeking to add a member to a winning sales team, the ideal candidate should perform above and beyond the job description. A candidate who has the ability to look beyond their specified job duties—without failing to identify the vitality of their core tasks—is a perfect fit for an organization looking to scale and grow.
Assessing The Answer
A great sales candidate will likely identify the core roles that they are expected to fulfill then go above and beyond to explain how they can fill in as a helpful resource in other areas as well. The best responses are likely to draw upon a past incident where they went the extra mile to help their employer.
Build A Successful Sales Team
Highly successful sales teams can be traced to an intelligent hiring process that goes beyond basic measures to ensure that the candidates you hire are a perfect fit for your organization. HireDNA uses a science-based sales recruiting and training process to help identify the right candidates, improve retention, accelerate ramp up, and maximize performance.
We Offer Proven Results:
- 50% faster new hire ramp-up
- 80% placement success
- 79% candidate retention
- 80% of our sales talent search ends in a successful hire
- Eliminate 96% of hiring mistakes
- Our partners experience 25% top-line revenue growth
Are you ready to hire top of the line sales talent?