Preparing to Interview for a Sales Job

Updated on March 14, 2019
Jerry Cornelius profile image

In a varied career, I have spent a couple of decades in sales, sales training, sales management and running my own businesses.

Interview
Interview | Source

Preparation For Your Sales Job Interview

Here are a few fundamentals to help when preparing to attend your first interview for a sales position.

Some of this may seem very basic, but as you delve further into the world of sales, you will see that much of sales is good old-fashioned common sense - so getting the basics right first time, every time, ensures whatever you do in your sales career gets off to the very best of starts. Never underestimate the basics - an awful lot of people do - you need to be ahead of the crowd and ensuring you know the basics will ensure you gain pole position.

In Advance of the Interview: Do your Homework

Let’s take the most obvious things first; as soon as it has been confirmed you have an interview, you should take a ‘deep dive’ into everything you can find out about the company you are applying to (you should have already have done some preliminary work on this already). By all means possible find out everything about the company you are going to be interviewed by.

You should aim to have a surface level understanding of the markets they are in, the products they sell, who owns them (are they a subsidiary) or who they own, their main rivals (see below), and if you can, get a ‘feeling’ for their corporate culture (access their website to check if they have a mission statement posted there as this will help).

Source

Do a SWOT Analysis

When checking out the company itself and its main rival(s) – it may be useful to put together a SWOT analysis to insert into your brag file and potentially use as a reference during the interview – this will demonstrate that you have done your homework.

Don’t know what a SWOT analysis is? – don’t worry I’ve put a simple example together below which you can use as a basis for your own. Basically, a SWOT analysis details the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of any particular thing whether that be a company, product, idea etc. In preparation for the interview it would be a good idea to do one, for maybe, the company you are seeing and their main rival.

Here’s an Example (do something similar with the information you gather):

SWOT analysis
SWOT analysis | Source

The above example shows how a rival company might see themselves if they were to do an honest SWOT analysis. Their ‘Threats’, would be your company’s ‘Opportunities’.

Put Yourself in the Interviewer's Shoes

Imagine you are the Sales Manager leading the interview (go with me on this), what would you be looking for in a candidate? What type of skills, what type of experience, what type of questions might you ask?

Now scribble down the potential questions you have come up with, and write down your potential answers – remember to answer fully (not just yes/no), by answering the question fully and relating a short example to back up your answer from your previous experience. This exercise will help you get into the right mind-set for the interview.

Here’s an example to get you started:

Q: Tell me about a time when you have had to work with a team to complete a project?

(The skills they are looking for are: teamwork, organisation)

A: When working for ABC Websites, we had a client who needed a particularly complex project completing in less than a month from start to finish. The usual time for this type of project was around the 3 months. I was tasked with putting a small team together, and to organise and lead the project along with liaising with the client. By getting the best team members around me and communicating clear time-led goals we were able to complete the project in the client’s time-frame and on budget.

(This answer demonstrates teamwork, organisation and leadership skills – although they would probably ask follow up questions relating to this answer)

What to Expect at the Interview?

Be prepared. Try to get some idea of the format of the interview in advance, will there be more than one person interviewing? Will there be any tests? (This can often happen in larger organisations, where you may have a combined interview with aptitude tests - which are often timed with a stopwatch, presentations or psychometric testing etc. This type of candidate assessment is often referred to as an assessment centre. An assessment centre can take up a big chunk of your day - bear it in mind!).

If you want to practice taking a psychometric test on-line (good idea!), search for ‘Free psychometric test’ in Google and a few websites will pop up where you can get some practice.

Source

Finding Your Way to the Interview

Now for some practicalities, ensure you know where the interview will take place, sounds obvious doesn’t it? But what if everyone knows where Company X is located in town, so you turn up on the doorstep to find that it is exactly where Company X is located, but only the manufacturing facility - the sales and marketing departments have expanded over the last few years and now they are located across town!

The moral of this story is: know exactly where you are going. Ensure you leave enough time to get there, leaving a margin of error for traffic/train/bus delays etc. If you still turn up for the interview late, then apologise, very briefly explain why (don’t make excuses or blame other people) then get on with the interview (they won’t thank you for going into a long explanation full of excuses for ten minutes when they are already behind schedule).

Source

Dress for Success

Follow your common-sense instincts. If you have a nagging doubt that the novelty tie your Grandma bought you last birthday does not quite match your best suit, follow your instincts and ditch the tie for something more business-like. Look smart. Look sharp.

Arrive in Time

You need to arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview is scheduled (don’t cut it fine), this should give enough time to compose yourself in readiness for the interview, if there is a toilet/bathroom then use it, not simply because nature calls, but to use the mirror - is the tie straight, hair tidy - good now smile… feel confident? Good you should do! - You have done your homework and you are ready.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jerry Cornelius

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)