7 Sales Interview Questions to ask the Sales Hiring Manager

repvueSep 22, 2020

After being questioned, probed, grilled for several hours, the classic, “Ok Jane, we have six minutes left in the interview, do you have any questions for us?” is floated out there by the hiring manager to the interviewee.

This trend of candidates only being afforded a few rushed minutes at the end of a job interview to ask the hiring manager or HR representative questions seems to be worsening, and hiring managers interviewing account executive and sales development roles are some of the worst offenders.

Then once the interviewee is offered their 6 minutes, he or she will usually just check their notes for the standard list of generic questions, hoping not to annoy the interviewer with any tough ones.

Ever been there?

Most of us have, so let’s flip this script and make balanced interviews the new normal.  The sales organization is interviewing the sales professional, of course, but the sales professional is also interviewing the sales organization.

To be even more specific, what if, during every job interview, 50% of the time you’re interviewed by the company and 50% of the time you ask the questions.

Here’s how I think that would work out:

   —   Sales organizations would be forced to be much more transparent

   —   Sales professionals would quickly realize that they are underprepared to extract the right data and insights that they need to make a decision as to whether this is where they want to spend 8 to 10 hours/day for the next (several?) years

   —   We would likely see a marked drop in the attrition rate(s) of sales professionals

While going into the interview expecting to have 50% of the time allocated to the candidate may seem unrealistic, what isn’t unrealistic is properly setting the expectation that you have questions and would like to ensure there is appropriate time allocated to that part of the process. 

If the employer isn’t in agreement with allowing you to have that time, it may be worth reconsidering if this organization is really a fit.  In other words – run away, fast.

In most cases the employer will be gracious and set aside some time to ensure that you are also making the best decision for you personally and professionally, and so when they agree to it, make sure you’re ready with some questions that will allow you to get right to the heart of your decision process.

These seven hard-hitting questions are designed to bypass the fluffy questions like ‘tell me about your health benefits’ and drive real conversation related to whether you think you can succeed in that sales organization.

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

These questions are designed not only to extract some very critical information about the organization that you can use in your decision process, but also to allow you a very good sense of whether the organization is transparent.  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.

Good luck out there!

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