Congratulations—you’ve landed an interview! But you never want to go into an interview blindly. Before any interview, you should do some pre-interview work to prepare for the questions you’re likely to be asked.
Whether onsite or virtual, your preparation for the interview will be the same. Most importantly, research the business or company you’re interviewing to work for. This doesn’t just mean reading the “About” section of the company’s website. Understand – in-depth – the company’s business, their industry, and marketplace that they ‘live’ in.
Find whatever data you can and study it. To find information on the company, use their website as well as LinkedIn and sites like Gartner, Forrester, and G2 as data sources. Know some key facts about the business, as they relate to the position, that you can mention in the interview. Do you know their annual revenue and employee count? If most of your experience is in a smaller or larger company, you may be asked why you will be a good fit for a company of a different size. Has the company experienced any growth? If you have experience with growing companies, you should work this into your interview. Is the company public or private? Who are they backed by, if anyone? If it’s a small company or a recently established company, who founded it, and what was the story behind the founding? This will give you an insight into their values and mission.
Because you’re interviewing for a sales position, you’ll want to know more than just general information about the business. You should know the products or services that they sell, who they sell them to, and what the current market in that industry looks like. In your preparation, delve a little deeper: What has the impact of the products and solutions been within the marketplace? What is the potential impact? Know who their competition is and what the business’s competitive advantages are – everything you may be asked during a real call with a prospect, if you land the position.
The more research you do, the better the interview will be. Research also helps you prepare more intelligent questions. Candidates are almost always asked, “Do you have any questions?” at the end of an interview. Make sure you’re not asking questions that can easily be found on the company’s website.
Know who you will be meeting with; you will probably be meeting with more than one person. What are their roles in the company, their tenure in the company, and their industry experiences? You may discover that you have mutual connections or have crossed paths before.
Your Sales Profile
Come prepared for the interview not just with your work experience/resume, but with your work experience data. Sales is a lot about numbers, and numbers will almost always be discussed. Know your former quotas vs. percent achieved; where you ranked on your previous sales team; your former company’s average sales cycle; the average contract value; and the number of accounts closed vs. lost.
Also be prepared to discuss why you left your former role or why you are looking for a new role. What about the role you’re interviewing for is unique? What excites you about it? A sales hiring team will be looking for passion. You want to show them that you’re excited about the product you’ll be selling. What experiences have you had that will lead to success in this new role?
Always, always ask at least one question. Some may emerge naturally during the interview, but you should have several questions prepared ahead of time. Ask informed, thoughtful questions based on the data you found before your interview.
Check out 5 Questions Sales Candidates Should Ask Every Hiring Manager to learn more about posing the right questions during the interview itself.
It is also appropriate to ask for a sales reference, or two – like a new rep and one with more tenure – so you can get more insight into the company culture and the expectations. Make sure you are prepared for those conversations; the reps you meet with will provide “Yes/No” feedback to the hiring manager.
Finally, remember that first impressions are just as important online as they are in person. What you’re wearing matters, even on a Zoom call; always dress one level above what you think your interviewer will be wearing. Remember to bring something to write on and something to write with. Be early. If you don’t know what the traffic will be like, drive the route a few days before at the same time. And bring a resume; you probably won’t need it, but it’s good to have it in case the hiring manager asks for it (or if they haven’t made enough copies for everyone in the room).
If you prepare thoughtfully for your interview and do your background research, you will have a far better chance of landing the role. Don’t assume all the other candidates are doing the same; you may get the job because you were the only one fully prepared.
Ready for the interview? Learn these 5 Tips on How to Sell Yourself During a Sales Interview