Ask a Professional Salesperson or a Sales Manager how many job interviews he or she has had.  At best, the answer will be a few dozen.  This holds true for the Salesperson looking for a job, and no doubt, the Sales Manager looking to fill the job opportunity with the right individual.  The best interviews are the ones that ask the tough questions from both sides of the table.  That’s the mark of a balanced job interview.


The typical job interview for a new Sales position is routine and predictable.  So much so, that most Professional Salespeople do a great job of selling themselves, their previous employment background and what makes them qualified for the job.  This can be a challenge for a Sales Manager, who feels they have made hiring mistakes in the past.


The most unnerving interview of my life

Many years ago, I can recall interviewing a Salesperson for a new sales position.  Even though he answered all of the questions reasonably well, there was something off about him.  Perhaps he was nervous or just not that interested in the job I had to offer.

He was convicted of 1st degree murder a few years later.  A self-described psychopath, police were convinced that if he were not caught, he would kill again.  While I will withhold the details of his horribly heinous crime, what scared me the most was that he interviewed like any average Salesperson looking for a new job.  I will never forget that job interview for what it wasn’t.   It was then that I realized my questioning strategy needed work.  Softball questions like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “What makes you want to work for us?” were too standard and unrevealing.


What The Job Interview Usually Is Like

A smart Professional Salesperson shows up for a job interview early and in their best attire.  They have rehearsed all of the typical questions and answers they will deliver.  They will reply to the best of their sales ability and position themselves as the perfect applicant for the job.  When the Sales Manager gives them a few minutes at the end of the interview for their questions, they will ask about salary, benefits and vacation time.  A good Salesperson will ask when the new opportunity starts.  A great one will even ask the Sales Manager for their opinion of their chances of getting the job.


What The Sales Manager Is Looking For

The Sales Manager will ask the standard questions and focus on their previous employment history.  The smart Sales Managers will probe a little deeper and do some reference checks.  They have been guilty of hiring the wrong Salesperson before.  You know, the perfect applicant who is going to be a top producer who turns out not even making the cut on the initial probationary period?  Not this time.


Where The Breakdown Occurs

Very often, the hiring process is too quick to reach a decision.  The Professional Salesperson is hoping to find the right company to start a long, successful career.  The Sales Manager is judging the Salesperson’s performance in their job interview.  Both sides are sincere and want this to work – so why does it often fail?


Company Culture And Expectations

Fit.  Match.  Suitability.  Alignment.  Call it what you will, it amounts to the same thing.  The expectations of the Salesperson and the Sales Manager were not parallel, even though they seemed to be – even after a second interview.  The Salesperson may feel that many important things about the job were not revealed in the interview.  The Sales Manager thinks he or she was led to believe that the Salesperson was prepared for the challenges of making the job successful.


What Needs To Happen In The Job Interview

Both sides need to ask better questions.  More revealing ones that don’t have easy answers.  Questions that might run the risk of the job not being offered or the position not being accepted due to lack of mutual suitability.  Think about it.  If we all agree that it’s better to be authentic and straightforward, why not do it in the job interview after establishing some reasonable grounds of rapport and future potential?


Here’s What Everyone Wants To Know!

Are you the right Salesperson for our company or am I wasting my time with you?

Is your company the right fit for me or am I going to have to start searching all over again?

Can the two us respect each other enough to work together?

Unfortunately, we would get nowhere asking those questions in that manner.  This means we need to be very creative in our questioning strategy to be able to extract the information we want.

In next week’s PROSALESGUY BLOG, I will give you a list of The 20 Best Interview Questions for a Sales Manager and The 12 Best Interview Questions for a Professional Salesperson.  Subscribe now and get them emailed to your Inbox. 


Thanks for reading!

Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY 





PROSALESGUY TRAINING offers Keynote speaking, Group Sales Training,  Individual Sales Training, Sales Management Mentoring and Consultation,  and Business Consulting Services in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.  Training can be done on site or via web conferencing.