SmartRecruiters Blog

How to Interview A Salesperson

The job skills of a salesperson tailor to the interview process. So when interviewing salespeople, you may want to hire more people than you can afford. Here are three things to focus on to ensure that you hire the best salesperson: personability, learning curve, and a positive attitude. 

    • Personability. Seasoned salespeople garner more results from listening than smooth talking.  A salesperson that can listen for a prospect’s “pain point” will have a favorable stance on how to position his or her product to the prospect.  A buyer will give the salesperson everything he or she needs to know in order to make the sale. In the interview process, the company is the buyer. Can the potential employee pitch himself or herself effectively? Ask the basics, “What are three key reasons you’re right for this position? Why are you interested in this company? Let the interviewee sell the job/company for you, see how well informed he or she is. As the conversation evolves, don’t forget, a good salesperson understands the importance of having a keen ear.


    • Learning Curve. Its good to get an idea of how he or she handles obstacles and solves problems. Keep it simple; ask something like, “What have been your biggest challenges when adjusting to a new job and new role?” Remember to focus on any questions that gauge the salesperson’s ability to adapt to the details of your industry. A good salesperson may have a track record of success in more than one sales channel and industry.  If success is displayed, this can show an ability to overcome a learning curve in a new industry with new products.  A great salesperson can even jump into a new role and hold a conversation with a prospect with little to no knowledge on the product itself.


    • Positive Attitude. Any sales manager will tell you: a reflection of a salespersons mood or ‘tude will mirror how he or she sounds during a sales call.  If a salesperson is in a bad mood, he or she will come off disinterested, and the prospect will pick up on this immediately.  On the contrary, if he or she is upbeat, the prospect will feed off the salesperson’s alacrity and be more compelled to engage in the discussion. Ask, “Have you encountered a sales slump in the past, if so, how have you dealt with this adversity?” If no (they haven’t been a salesperson very long), ask how they might cope if they ran into a tough stretch.
      If they have a positive personality they will likely have a self-made plan to sustain morale. In sales positions with longer sales cycles it is even more vital to have a positive attitude when gratification isn’t lurking around every month-end.


A sales call is much like an interview. Do you buy into the person who is selling? In asking questions, focus on the tells of how they listen, their ability to learn and their overall attitude. And then, trust your gut to make the right hire.

Michael Ulrich is a Senior Account Manager at RingCentral, the #1 cloud based phone system for SMBs, and former salesperson for the Washington Redskins. Michael hasn’t missed quota in over a year.

All direct employers are eligible for a free job posting to SalesGravy ($199 value and top source for Sales talent) when signing up for SmartRecruiters Free Recruiting Software.

Photo Credit: LauraRodas
For more information on how to interview.

Michael Ulrich Sr Account Manager at RingCentral

Michael Ulrich is a Senior Account Manager at RingCentral, the #1 cloud based phone system for SMBs, and former salesperson for the Washington Redskins. Michael hasn’t missed quota in over a year.