The first time you apply for a job can be nerve-wracking. Maybe you’re a recent university graduate on the path to an exciti
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With every graduate job, the interview questions you’ll be asked will differ as an employer will want to get to know if your personality, previous experience and career goals are suited to the industry and job you’re interviewing for.
If you’ve secured an interview for a graduate sales role, we’ve put together a wide range of example questions and answers, from retail sales interview questions, to sales support interview questions and telesales interview questions and answers, so you’ll feel confident and prepared heading into any graduate sales interview!
Or if you’re currently applying to graduate sales roles, these interview questions will help you get a feel for the skills and characteristics employers are looking for. Check out the latest graduate sales roles in London and the UK.
One of the most popular sales specialist interview questions, and one an employer may start out the interview with, is asking why you are interested in sales and what motivates you about this position. By asking this question, an employer wants to know that you’re interested in the role for the right reasons and that you’re passionate about the industry.
Prepare for this question by asking yourself what really drives you about sales, is it the rewarding feeling of hitting targets, building relationships with clients or the thrill of securing a deal? Whatever your reasons, make sure they are relevant to the sales role you are applying to, as this will impress an employer and show you’re genuinely interested in a career in sales.
Whilst you may be cautious including the financial benefits in your answer, when it comes to sales jobs it’s beneficial to include, as you’ll be showing an employer you’re motivated by money and will work extra hard to close deals and meet targets.
Another useful point to mention in your answer to this question is stating that you want to learn more about the sales industry and develop new skills in this role. If you have gaps in your CV and skills an employer may require that you currently don’t have, mention that you’re hoping to learn and develop your skillset, this shows an employer you’re enthusiastic and have a willingness to learn.
Here’s our sales interview example answer:
“I’m a very competitive and driven person, having competed in various sporting activities throughout my life, sales encompasses that competitiveness which really motivates me.
I’m also a very sociable person, I love meeting new people, I’m looking for a role where I can create relationships with colleagues and clients, and sales offers that.
The financial aspects and monthly targeted aspects of sales also motivates me, I’ve always enjoyed having a goal to work towards, and I work hard to make sure I always achieve my goals.”
Visit our blog post for more tips on how to answer the ‘what motivates you at work?’ interview question.
This question is one of the most common sales interview questions for freshers and it’s useful for employers for several reasons, they want to find out how you deal with difficult questions, to test your composure and communication abilities and see how you sell yourself – all essential for graduate sales roles.
In your answer, you want to make sure you’re highlighting your biggest strengths that are relevant to sales roles and when listing weaknesses turn them into positives. With all entry level sales interview questions, make sure you’re supporting your statements with evidence, whether that’s a previous experience or a skill you developed through university, etc.
Your answer to this question is your chance to sell yourself to an employer, you want to show that you can confidently get points across and engage an employer. Employers will be judging here if they think you can successfully sell their service or product to clients, so it’s essential to nail this question.
Some of the best strengths to highlight are communication and interpersonal skills. With sales roles whether it’s business development, recruitment, or door to door sales, you’ll constantly be talking to a variety of different people, so it’s essential to show you’re a confident and effective communicator.
Problem-solving abilities are essential with sales roles, you may face difficult situations such as demanding clients, and tricky deadlines. You want to show an employer that one of your biggest strengths is your ability to cope well under pressure and think logically to take the best course of action.
Showing you can instill trust in people is another great strength to highlight when answering this question. With sales roles, you need to create great relationships with clients and present yourself as a trustworthy individual to successfully sell the company’s product or service. Show an employer how you’ve previously built great relationships in the past, whether it’s from working in hospitality and having loyal customers or you held a leadership position requiring others to trust you.
- Multitasking ability
- Listening skills
- Good customer service
- Independence and initiative
- Balance of assertiveness and patience
- Ambition and drive
- Empathy and honesty
- Confident and personable
- Networking skills
- Enthusiastic and passionate
- Resilient and adaptable
- Communications skills
- Organised and thorough
- Bold and inquisitive
- Optimistic and persistent
- Motivated and committed
- Helpful and courteous
Speaking about your weaknesses is one of the hardest interview questions to answer, so preparation is key. You want to choose your weaknesses carefully and make sure you don’t list a fundamental skill to the role. Make sure you look thoroughly over the job description to look out for the essential skills, check out our blog post for tips on how to decrypt the job description.
Some good sales weaknesses examples to highlight, are skills that you can turn into a positive. For example, perhaps you have a tendency to take on too much responsibility, resulting in stress, this shows you’re ambitious and don’t shy away from tasks, but you struggle saying no to things. Or you try to please too many people, which shows you like to complete tasks required from you and keep people happy, but you do too much work outside your job description, which can leave you exhausted.
It’s also beneficial in your answer to tell an employer that you want to use their role as an opportunity to work on these weaknesses. This shows that you’re actively looking to develop your weaknesses and that you’re continually looking to self-improve.
For more tips and examples for how to answer ‘what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses check out our blog post.
A form of sales interview questions an employer will most likely ask, are sales behavioural interview questions. These are questions that require you to think about your past experiences and provide specific examples of when you have previously demonstrated the required behaviour an employer is looking for.
The STAR technique is a great way to help you structure your answers to both behavioural and competency-based interview questions. With each of these types of questions you want to make sure you’re outlining the situation you were in, the task at hand, the action you took and the result that came from your actions.
Here are some example sales behavioural interview questions to prepare for, with some of the best skills to highlight in your answers:
Key to success in sales, is having the ability to handle and move on from a rejection and continuing to working towards your goals.
In your answer first give examples of where one of your sales was rejected, and then follow this up by telling an employer how you acted after, perhaps you made sure you still maintained a great relationship with the customer or made notes on how you could improve for next time.
How you acted after the rejection is really what the employer is interested in with this question.
A core competency in sales is the ability to reach an agreement through successful negation, by asking this question an employer wants to see the approach you’d take to negating difficult situations.
Some good points to mention in your answer are that you first explored the needs of the client/customer, worked alongside them putting these needs first and used your persuasive skills and determination to reach a workable agreement for both parties, despite challenges.
It’s also great to include in your answer if you enjoy challenges and settling harder deals, as this shows an employer you have a genuine interest and enjoyment working in sales.
An interviewer may also ask competency-based sales questions, these are questions employers ask to see if you have the right attributes, knowledge and behaviours that will lead you to be successful in their role.
Here are some example competency-based questions sales interviewers may ask, so you can prepare and include the key skills you want to highlight in your answers:
When answering this question, it's important to highlight the key industry skills that are essential to working in sales and the required skills an employer has outlined in the job description.
Whilst to work in sales you’ll need organisational and written skills, these however are common skills required for most graduate jobs and not specifically related to sales roles. Instead, comment on some of the more relevant sales skills such as communication skills, negotiation and problem-solving abilities. Find out more information on what makes a good salesperson.
Here, an employer wants to gain an insight into how you work independently and keep yourself on track to reach goals.
Have a think about any techniques you’ve used in the past that have helped you achieve goals, was it asking for feedback from others, establishing mini goals or regularly checking you’re on track by reviewing data and statistics.
Sales is heavily performance and target-based, so make sure to include a couple of strategies you’ve used in the past that have worked for you and mention if you hit any impressive goals to an employer.
When answering this question, you want to show the employer that you can easily handle difficult situations. In your answer it’s useful to mention that criticism is an inevitable part of working in sales as it is one of the most challenging and fast-paced graduate industries, this will show an employer you have an awareness and knowledge of the industry.
A great way to answer this question is to turn it into a positive situation, mention that it’s important to not take criticism personally, to listen to what colleagues have to say as criticism is helpful to learn from and develop.
A common task of most graduate sales jobs is making calls to customers and clients. An employer may ask questions to see if you are comfortable making calls and cold calling and find out the approach you would take.
Here are some of the sales questions an employer may ask with example answers:
“I’m very comfortable making cold calls and have had a lot of previous experience in the past making them. I love talking to new people, and I especially enjoy it when I can tell a new customer about a service that really may be of benefit to them, and that’s why I want to work for this company as I believe the product is beneficial to so many people.”
“I think the best way to handle negative customer reactions is to always remember that the customer’s needs come first and if they are not interested or happy with the product, it’s important to think about how you can help them, find out what went from for them and to try and change their perspective. Negative customer reactions are also useful in finding out customer insights and areas of improvement that can be implemented to enhance the business.”
It is especially important when interviewing for sales roles to ask the employer questions at the end of the interview, as this shows that you’re not only interested in learning more about the role, but that you’re a confident, punchy communicator. Here are some good sales interview to ask employers:
Check out our blog for more top interview questions you should be asking the interviewer!
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Whatever type of graduate sales role you’re interviewing for, use our sales representative interview questions and answers to prepare for your interviews and confidently show an employer you’re the right fit for the role and company. Check out our Interview Questions Hub for more of the most common interview questions and answers!
For more information on what it’s like to work in sales, visit our blogs and find out what it’s like to work in sales from a Business Development Executive and all about what it’s like working in recruitment.
Or if you want to start applying for graduate sales roles but your CV isn’t up to scratch, visit our Student and Graduate CV hub for free CV templates and top tips for how to describe sales experience on a resume.