Gone are the days when a brief, casual discussion about a sales applicant’s job history is considered a sufficient approach to the interviewing process. In fact, to find the best salespeople for your company, one interview simply isn’t enough.

Interview questions for salespeople

AHS has developed a tried and true four part interview model for hiring top sales performers. The essential interview tips below are from the Advanced Hiring System Four Part Interview document available in full detail for AHS Sales Hiring Course members. We’ll provide here a brief overview of what information you should learn from the applicant during each stage of this four-part process.


What you’re looking for throughout each interview is consistency, in addition to specific information. Do the applicant’s answers in the third and fourth interviews support the answers they gave in the first and second? Be aware of that as the interviews continue and conclude.


The First Interview


The first interview is where you get essential basic information. Ideally before you begin, you have any pre-employment sales assessment test scores and have reviewed the applicant’s answers.


  • Ask about the applicant’s background. This is a great first question for the first interview. Leave it open-ended and let the applicant “warm up” by discussing details about themselves with you.
  • Ask which of their accomplishments make them proud. You want to know if the applicant is goal-oriented. Someone who lists several awards and achievements of which they are proud is probably motivated to achieve more.
  • Ask them to tell you what makes a great salesperson. Determine if the applicant has the values and personality of a top performing salesperson by asking them to tell you what those great qualities are.


The Second Interview


By the second interview you have learned important basics, so you’ll start asking more thought-provoking questions now.


  • Determine if the applicant values self-development. Ask what the applicant has done in the past year to improve themselves and their lives. Great salespeople are always striving to get better or be more successful in some way.
  • Ask what they would do in your shoes. Top sales performers are always reaching for the top, which means they probably want to be the boss someday. Ask job applicants how they would improve a sales department and team of their own.


The Third Interview

By this time, you’re noticing a pattern in the applicant’s answers, as well as some of their work habits. Are they showing up to each interview on time? Are they dressed professionally? Is their attitude consistently positive and enthusiastic? The four-part interview process is important for learning these details about an applicant’s habits.


The questions in the third interview can get a little broader and more creative.


  • If you could be a movie star, who would you be and why? It’s great to find applicants able to come up with quick creative answers for questions like this. You want answers that convey confidence.
  • How would you define accountability? Ask the applicant what they think accountability is and what it means to them.


The Fourth Interview


For the final interview, wrap up with questions that clear up any gaps in information you’ve collected so far. You’ll want to ask for references and get more details about this salesperson’s personal selling technique.


  • Close with questions about closing. Ask the applicant how they close a sale. Ask if they have more than one technique and how those techniques are applied to certain situations.
  • Ask how they handle each “No.” A top-performing salesperson has learned a thing or two about how to turn a “No” into a “Yes.” Ask the applicant to explain their strategies for overcoming sales rejections.


The applicants who complete the four-part interview process with enthusiasm, strong answers and a smile on their face have certainly proven themselves to be very serious about the job. They’ve shown the same dedication to achieve this goal as they likely would to achieve high sales goals for your company.


For full in-depth interview questions and how to properly analyze the responses, sign up for the AHS Sales Hiring Course.




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