6 Smart Interview Questions to Ask Superstar Sales Candidates

In some (rare) cases, you need to roll out the red carpet for a sales candidate. Yes, they are that good. And with the ever decreasing quality of candidates searching for jobs, you need to sell your job to a superstar candidate. One way is to ask smart interview questions to find out exactly what they want and need in order to be successful and happy.

Here are six smart interview questions to ask superstar salespeople to find out what they really want in a sales job:

1. What does a purpose-driven sales job look like to you?

This question really strikes at an individual’s sources of motivation. What significance do they want to experience from this job? How does it help them achieve their life goals? From where do they gain a strong sense of fulfillment? Is it possible to achieve some of that fulfillment through this job? Many will say they are most rewarded when they are able to establish healthy relationships with their customers and serve them.

In addition, don’t forget that money is a part of this process, but it goes much deeper than income. What do they want to do with their money? Are they interested in charity, caring for aging parents, religious involvement, family vacations, a dream house, etc? In short, what are the goals they want to achieve?

2. How would you describe your ideal company culture?

I like this question because too often, salespeople don’t feel respected by some members of the organization. It’ even worse if those people are directly connected to the sales department (Sales Directors, VP’s, HR, the President). Listen out for their desires for a sales-focused culture where everyone is supportive of the sales team efforts. They don’t like interdepartmental struggles. In addition, they may want to work for a company whose culture is larger than the products/services they provide. In essence, they may want to be able to engage in social causes that give back to their community.

3. What type of relationship do want with your sales manager?

When it comes to smart interview questions, this is one of my favorites. There is so much to discuss and learn. Here are a few common responses top performers give to this question. Your superstar sales candidate may want a:

  • Supportive sales manager – “Provide me with the resources and encouragement I need, when I need them.” 
  • Hands off sales manager – “Give me the sales goal and I’ll call you when I need you. Other than that, leave me alone to do my job. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.”
  • Driven sales manager – “Push me to be better. Challenge my thinking and my methods. I’m very good, but only get better when challenged by a strong-willed sales manager.”

Be prepared to modify your management style in order to create the optimal working conditions for your new recruit.

4. What type of training and coaching do you want to help you be successful?

When answering this question, here is a list of some of the things that a superstar may want in terms of training and development:

  • Advanced sales training
  • Social media training
  • Speaking skills training
  • Negotiation skills training
  • Coaching needs to be specific to my large account opportunities

5. What job activities would you want to delegate to help you be successful?

Superstar salespeople recognize they have a finite amount of time and resources. Therefore, they want to maximize their time to yield the greatest ROI for themselves and their company. Remember, they want to be the best, win all the awards and take home the biggest prizes. So be prepared to provide them with the resources they need to keep them selling. Never waste large amounts of money on paying high priced, talented sales reps to do jobs you can farm out at a fraction of the cost.

Here are a few items to consider: admin/paperwork, data entry (CRM), list building, follow-up with prospects, and account management with existing accounts.

6. What do you expect regarding a career path here at <your company>?

You may be surprised at some of the responses you get to your questions. Nevertheless, you need to know what their expectations are for them to remain satisfied at your company. Remember, there are plenty of competitors who would like to steal your superstar away from you.

Here are couple of responses you might hear:

  • “I don’t want to move up in the company. I only want to sell with uncapped earning potential.”
  • “My goal is to move into sales management within 3-5 years.”
  • “Ultimately, I want an equity stake in the company if I meet my sales goals.”