How To Interview A Graduate For A Sales Role

5 July, 2017

Sales remains a crucial part of most businesses, especially start-ups looking to grow quickly. Hiring graduates is a very cost-effective way of increasing sales but only if you hire the right candidate. In fact, hiring the wrong graduate can be very costly indeed, it’s therefore essential you know how to filter for strong future sales leaders in your interviews.

By focusing on the following areas during interview you’ll be able to successfully screen for a graduate equipped with all the skills needed to be a top sales candidate.

How social are they?

Sales is all about building and maintaining rapport with clients and therefore, it almost goes without saying, it requires extremely good social skills. A very good way of checking a graduate’s social skills is by not only taking not of their behaviour and answers in the interview room but outside it too. How does the graduate deal with the awkward silence in the lift? Do they instigate the small talk or do they wait for you to control the conversation?

Warning: Don’t fall into the trap here of thinking good social skills means purely having the gift of the gab. A big part of creating good rapport is listening, especially in a sales setting where someone who can really focus down in on the customer or client’s needs, concerns and wants is invaluable.

Do they research clients?

A future sales star understands what an interview is; it’s the candidate selling themselves to a client (you). As simple as that. And a good salesperson not only researches the company and the product/service but also the decision-maker (have they bothered to look at your LinkedIn profile before the interview?).

This also gives you an opportunity to see how passionate they are about your product or service - remember they will be selling it if they’re successful! Have they already worked hard to understand your product or services unique selling points and know how to communicate this in an articulate and genuine way?

What motivates them?

You can ask this question directly. There isn’t a single right answer but this gives you the opportunity to understand more about them personally and why it is they’re attracted to sales and, perhaps more importantly, if they understand what it entails as a part of your company. Whether that’s commission, hitting targets or a genuine belief in the product or service, are these things that you as a company are offering or would they be more suited in a different environment?

How do they handle objections?

This is the most important part of the interview precisely because it’s the most important aspect of any sales role.

An ineffective way to decipher whether the candidate can handle objections is by asking them directly. You’re better off assessing this by actually objecting to some of their answers throughout the interview or object to something on their CV. For example:

  • “Why did you get a 2:1 and not a First?”
  • “Are you applying for sales because it’s the only job you can get?”
  • “Are you telling me you really like the idea of making cold calls?”

Depending on how tough you want your sales grad to be, keep pushing back on their answers and see how they handle your objections.

Do they chase?

The majority of sales come from chasing up. If your company is actually the company the candidate wants to work for and your product or service something they want to sell, then they would definitely follow up after the interview. So checking to see if a candidate chases up hits two birds with one stone: 1) it shows that they have a core characteristic of a successful salesperson and 2) it shows that they actually want to work for you.

Here at Instant Impact we have specialist sales recruiters constantly screening sales graduates so you don’t have to. If you’re looking to build your sales team but are too busy to do it yourself, we can take care of the whole recruitment process for you. To talk to one of our specialist sales consultants get in touch here.