How to Prepare for a Sales Job Interview

First things first.

The job of a CV/Résumé/LinkedIn Profile is to get you an interview. If you are not getting interviews, then get to work on refining your CV/Résumé/LinkedIn Profile. Be compelling, filled with action keywords (sales hunter, driven, fearless cold caller, natural networker, etc.). Most people will spend minutes on these – think hours!

So, let’s assume your CV/Résumé/LinkedIn Profile are absolutely stunning and you are getting load of interviews. Let’s discuss how to prepare.

First Know yourself.

Understand your CV/Résumé/LinkedIn Profile and be able to fully discuss each job and your achievements. Answer all questions without any awkwardness. If fired or left a job after a short period be ready to discuss the situation fully and honestly – avoid speaking negatively about past employers or managers – it never looks good. Simply say that the situation was what not you expected, and it became clear that it would be better to simply move on.

Know your target.

Prior to the interview review the company. Look at the company website and understand what they do. Review the company’s LinkedIn page and review the profiles of senior managers, those who will interview you and, those in the company who are doing the job you hope to land.

Avoid discussing money in too much detail. The best time to discuss money is when offered the job. It is at this point that the potential employer has the highest emotional attachment to you. Trying to negotiate earlier is a turn-off.

Know your first 30-60-90 days sales strategy. Most interviewers will ask this question at some point. Don’t make the mistake of saying you will spend the first 30 days researching and getting the lay of the land. Employers want to see you’ll get right to it so discuss your action strategy in terms of actual selling.

Always be closing. Even though this is a first interview always close the interviewer. Ask what the next steps are and if you will be moving forward. Tell them you are keen on the opportunity.

Telephone Interview

Be ready at the appointed time. A telephone interview requires tremendous focus as you will be relying 100% on your voice to present your ideas, confidence and energy. This call likely to your mobile phone. Make sure your phone is fully charged and that you have a back-up charger. Find a quiet room with the best possible reception. Stand straight for the entire call as air will flow more easily into your lungs and your voice will have more energy. Smile throughout the call as this will present you positively and with more confidence. Don’t speak over the other person but wait and then answer fully. Have notes in front of you to reference key targets and achievements. Have water nearby and have as much fresh air as possible. Close and ask to move to the next stage of the interview process. Tell them you are keen on the opportunity.

Zoom/Teams Interview

Be ready at the appointed time. Make certain to prepare your scene. If possible, you want to use a notebook/desktop computer rather than a mobile phone. Make sure the room and your face are very well-lit. Make sure you will have privacy and that there will be no distracting background noises. Make sure the wall behind you has a simple background without anything that will distract or cause the interviewer to make any judgements about you. Consider using blur background option. Position the camera so that you have a flattering angle. Have any notes that you need to reference at hand where you can easily view them without being obvious. Speak clearly and loudly and sit up straight as his will give the impression of having energy as well as providing good projection for your voice. Dress well. Perhaps not as formally as in an in-person interview but professionally. Close and ask to move to the next stage of the interview process. Tell them you’re keen on the opportunity.

Face-to-face Interview

Arrive on time or a few minutes before your interview. Never be late. Lateness is never forgiven. Dress well. Standard interview dress is a dark blue suit with tie for men and dark blue slacks or dress for women. Power suits (blue) is always best. Dark grey is the second-best choice. Have clean shoes, well-groomed hair, and generally well-presented. Nails manicured. If offered coffee or water, ask for water. Sit straight with both feet on the floor. Speak clearly and smile often. Shake hands at the beginning and the end of the interview. Know your stuff and bring and supporting materials – perhaps a brag file of sales awards and even payroll documents supporting your commission earnings. Best to know your stuff but okay to refer to notes. Close and ask to move to the next stage of the interview process. Tell them you’re keen on the opportunity.

Panel interview

If being interviewed by two, three or more people the above holds true except be certain to engage with everyone equally. If one interviewer is asking the majority of questions be sure to look at all the interviewers as you answer.

Close and ask to move to the next stage of the interview process. Tell them you’re keen on the opportunity.

Interview Follow-up

Send an email to everyone you engaged with and thank them for their time and express your interest in the opportunity. Find each person on LinkedIn and connect with them and express your interest in the opportunity.

If you’re not getting the results you want from your interviews take a close look at your preparation and presentation. Review the questions asked and the answers you provided. Consider joining Toastmasters to improve your speaking and presentation skills. Consider asking a successful friend for pointers on dress and presentation. Look around at the top performers and ask yourself how they are different and consider adjusting your approach. Look at the best sales performers and their LinkedIn profiles – emulate the most positive aspects and look to make constant improvements!

After every interview whether on the telephone, Zoom/Teams or in-person consider your performance and look for opportunity to improve. With some effort you’ll get more and better offers!