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Account Executive Interview Questions: Be Prepared and Land the Job

RepVue Editorial Team
RepVue Editorial TeamDec 26, 2023

Whether you’re a seasoned sales professional or just starting out, it’s important to be prepared for the interview process. One way to do that is by familiarizing yourself with common Account Executive interview questions — and by having a proactive plan for the interview.

During an AE interview, you can expect to be asked about your sales experience, your understanding of the company and industry, and your ability to work independently and as part of a team. You may be asked to describe your sales process, explain how you handle objections, or discuss a time when you had to work with a difficult client or overcome an objection.

By preparing thoughtful answers, you can show your interviewer that you have the skills, experience, and passion needed to succeed as an Account Executive.

See Account Executive job openings on RepVue

Understanding the Role

As an Account Executive, your primary responsibility will be to manage and grow a portfolio of clients. This includes developing and maintaining relationships with clients, understanding their business needs, and identifying opportunities to upsell or cross-sell products and services. You will likely also be responsible for creating and delivering presentations, proposals, and contracts to clients.

Skills and Qualifications

To be successful as an AE, you will need strong communication, interpersonal, and negotiation skills. You should be able to build rapport with clients, understand their business needs, and develop solutions that meet those needs. You should also have a good understanding of the industry and the products and services you are selling. 

And guess what? You’ll have the chance to directly demonstrate many of these skills in the interview. Unlike some jobs that are hard to interview for, an interview is essentially a sales pitch, so you should be prepared to nail it!

A bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or a related field may be required, but not always. Some companies may also require previous sales experience or industry-specific knowledge.

Success Metrics

As an Account Executive, your success will be measured by your ability to meet and exceed sales targets, maintain strong relationships with clients, and generate new business opportunities. You may also be evaluated on your ability to deliver effective presentations and proposals, negotiate contracts, and manage your time effectively.

Do you know your worth? Compare Account Executive salaries here.

Example interview questions related to this include:

  • Can you describe your experience managing a portfolio of clients?
  • How do you identify new business opportunities?
  • How do you measure success in your current role as an Account Executive?

Behavioral Interview Questions

During an interview for an AE role, you may be asked behavioral interview questions to assess your past experiences and how you handle certain situations. 

Teamwork and Collaboration

The ability to work well with others is crucial for success in an Account Executive role. Here are some example interview questions to assess your teamwork and collaboration skills:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to collaborate with another team to achieve a common goal. What was your role and how did you contribute to the team’s success?
  • How do you handle conflicts or disagreements with team members? Can you give me an example of a time when you had to resolve a conflict with a coworker?

Problem-Solving

Problem-solving skills are essential for Account Executives to identify and resolve customer issues. Here are some example interview questions to assess your problem-solving skills:

  • Describe a time when you had to solve a complex problem for a customer. What was the issue and how did you go about resolving it?
  • How do you prioritize and manage your tasks when faced with multiple customer issues at the same time?

Time Management

As an Account Executive, you will be responsible for managing your time effectively to meet customer needs and achieve sales targets. Here are some example interview questions to assess your time management skills:

  • How do you prioritize your tasks and manage your time effectively to meet deadlines?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to manage multiple projects simultaneously. How did you ensure that each project was completed on time and to the satisfaction of the customer?

Remember to provide specific examples from your past experiences to demonstrate your skills and abilities in these areas. By preparing for these behavioral interview questions, you can showcase your strengths and increase your chances of landing the Account Executive job.

Situational Interview Questions

You can also expect to be asked situational questions when interviewing for an Account Executive position. These types of questions assess how you would handle various scenarios that may arise on the job. 

For questions like these — typically the interviewer is primarily interested in your approach to addressing the situation, as opposed to requiring you to give the “correct” answer. There usually is no one right answer. Instead the interviewer is trying to gain some insight into how you think and how you handle different types of situations. 

Here are some example situational interview questions that you may encounter during your interview.

Client Handling

As an Account Executive, you will be responsible for managing client relationships. The interviewer may ask you situational questions to assess how you would handle difficult clients or challenging situations. Here are some examples:

  • You have a client who is unhappy with the service they are receiving. How do you handle the situation?
  • A client has requested a last-minute change to a project that will require additional resources. How do you respond?
  • You have a client who is considering leaving your company for a competitor. How do you convince them to stay?

Sales Scenarios

AEs are responsible for generating new business and closing deals. The interviewer may ask you situational questions to assess your sales skills and approach. Here are some examples:

  • You are meeting with a potential client who is hesitant to commit. How do you convince them to sign on?
  • You have a sales target to meet by the end of the quarter, but your pipeline is looking slim. How do you generate new leads?
  • A client has expressed interest in a product that you don’t think is the best fit for them. How do you handle the situation?

Remember, the key to answering situational interview questions is to stay calm, think through the scenario, and provide a thoughtful response. Use specific examples from your past experiences to demonstrate your skills and approach.

Technical and Product Knowledge

Some roles will require AEs to have domain expertise, and in those cases it is important to demonstrate your understanding of the industry and products you will be selling. Here are two key areas to focus on:

Industry Standards

Account executives need to be knowledgeable about the industry they are selling into. This includes understanding industry trends, competitor products, and the needs of your target audience. Be prepared to answer questions about the industry and the products you will be selling. You may be asked to describe the current state of the industry, or how your product compares to competitors.

Example interview questions:

  • What do you know about our industry?
  • How do you stay up-to-date on industry trends?
  • How do you think our product fits into the current market?

CRM Software Proficiency

Proficiency in customer relationship management (CRM) software is likely expected. Be prepared to discuss your experience with CRM software and your ability to use it effectively.

Example interview questions:

  • What experience do you have with CRM software?
  • What is your process for managing customer relationships?
  • How do you use data to inform your sales strategy?

For most roles, the company will not expect you to be an expert in their field or solution. They’ll train you in that. But you should be able to demonstrate a basic understanding and aptitude.

You should also be an expert in the product or industry that you come from — so don’t be surprised if they ask you about that — even if it’s not directly relevant to the role that you’re interviewing for. This is an opportunity to demonstrate how you can develop knowledge and expertise.

Questions for the Interviewer

After you’ve answered the interviewer’s questions, now it’s your turn to ask the questions. 

This is not just a formality or a nice thing to do to show that you’re prepared. Instead, this is one of the best ways to learn whether this is the right org for you. And ironically, it’s also one of the best ways to set yourself apart and to demonstrate that you’re a great fit. 

Also, you’ll learn a lot by how much time is left for your questions. If you find that there are only a few minutes left, ask if the interviewer has more time – or if you can schedule another time or a phone call to follow up. 

Basic Questions

Asking the interviewer some questions can help you get a better understanding of the company and the position. Here are some example questions you can ask. These are basic questions and most people will ask them, but they’re still important.

  • What do you think are the most important qualities for someone in this role?
  • What do you enjoy most about working for this company?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges facing the company right now?

Even though you’ve likely demonstrated your product knowledge, – don’t be afraid to show that you don’t think you know everything. Consider asking: “I’m not 100% clear I fully understand some elements of the value proposition of the product., I’d love to give you my take and let you correct me where I’m off base.”

Asking these types of questions can help you gain a better understanding of the company culture and the expectations for the position.

Advanced Questions

Do you have the courage to do what it takes to make sure that you’re joining the right sales org? This is how you can really set yourself apart. 

Not everyone will have the confidence to ask these next questions. And a warning: some interviewers or hiring managers will be put off, uncomfortable, or even offended by these questions. That’s good! They’ve done you a favor by saving you from joining a bad sales org.

Here are some great one that you can use:

  • “If I asked the last three reps who left voluntarily about your org, what would they say?”
  • “I’m joining a division that has 30 reps, how many of them hit their number last year? What about Q2 this year?”
  • “What are the top three reasons you’ve lost deals in this year?” (look for specificity here)
  • “What is the average % of pipeline generated by marketing vs. SDRs vs. AEs for this role?”
  • “Can you share with me the compensation plan template for this year?”
  • “Can you share with me the compensation plan template for last year?”
  • “What’s the core difference between your MCP and ICP?”

If the company isn’t willing to share or disclose deep information so YOU can make the right decision, it’s probably not the org for you. If they balk or hesitate, your final question should be, “Why?”

Find more must-ask interview questions here

If you’re interviewing at a great sales org, these questions show that you understand not only how to sell, but how the game is played. You get what it means for a sales org to be well-run, and you want to join a winning team.

Close The Interview

When the interview is nearing the end, remember that you’re in sales. “Closing” in this case usually means moving to the next stage in the process. And if the interviewer isn’t convinced that you’re a fit — you want to have the chance to address their concerns. 

 Here’s where should ask:

  • “Is there anything you’ve heard today that would give you hesitation in moving me forward in the process?”
  • “You mentioned you’d like to schedule me for the next step in the interview process, can we schedule that now? I can pull up my calendar.”
  • “Are you using an interview scorecard and are you comfortable sharing what the core components are of that scorecard?”

Judging the Org by the Interview

You can tell a lot about the type of sales org that you’re considering joining based on the interview process.

Would you describe the experience like this:

  • I interviewed, and didn’t get a call back for 10 days
  • I negotiated, they pulled the job offer
  • I asked what percent of the team hit quota, they squirmed
  • I was early for the interview, they were late
  • I asked for a sample comp plan, crickets

Or like this:

  • I was provided interview feedback on the spot
  • I negotiated, they were fair and up-front
  • I verified what percent of the team hit quota with third-party data
  • I was offered more time post-interview for questions
  • I was provided current comp plan and last year’s comp plan

In either case, you’ll get a glimpse of the culture before your first day. When they show you who they are, believe them.

Follow-Up Etiquette

After the interview, it’s important to follow up with the interviewer to thank them for their time and express your continued interest in the position. Here are some tips for following up:

  • Send a thank-you email within 24 hours of the interview.
  • Mention something specific from the interview to show that you were paying attention.
  • Reiterate your interest in the position and the company.
  • Keep your email brief and to the point.

Following up after the interview can help you stand out from other candidates and show that you are truly interested in the position.

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