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Sales Associate Interview
Questions

33 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated August 22nd, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Sales    

Question 1 of 33

What does good customer service mean to you?

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Interview Questions

1.

What does good customer service mean to you?

We all know that customer service is extremely important when it comes to sales. Provide the interviewer with specific aspects that are essential to good customer service such as good problem-solving skills, meeting customer needs, positive attitude, knowledge of the products you are selling and efficiency when helping and checking out customers. You can also give an example of how you’ve used these elements of customer service to help someone in the past or describe a time when you received excellent customer service and what specifically made this a good experience for you.

Example: “I truly believe that providing good customer service is crucial to being successful in sales. Making the experience the best I can for a customer and helping them choose the right product for them. I want them to be satisfied with their purchase.”

2.

Do you work well on a team? How would you define teamwork?

Most jobs require some amount of teamwork so it is extremely important to be a team player. Tell the interviewer that you do work well in a team and if you enjoy teamwork, include this as well. When defining teamwork, include the importance of being able to collectively use your strengths to reach a mutual goal. Everyone plays a specific role and adds value to a team – compromise is also important. Share past examples of working in a team and include how you worked together, communicated, and problem solved with your team members.

3.

What is your greatest strength?

Focus on a strength that is relevant to your role as a sales associate. By doing this, you are positioning yourself as a prime candidate for the job. Describe your strength, how it applies to your work, and why it makes you so good at being a sales associate. For example, “My greatest strength is my people skills. I make customers comfortable and build trust with them. Customers have left feedback saying they didn’t feel pressured to make a purchase and that they were extremely happy with the experience they received when working with me.“

4.

Are you familiar with cataloging, inventorying, stocking of merchandise, and other sales-related responsibilities?

Be honest when answering this question. If you are familiar with these duties or anything related to them then you should talk about how they played a role in your previous positions. For example, if you are in charge of inventory control at your current job, tell the interviewer specifically what your duties entail - for example, how often you were required to count inventory, how many SKU's you dealt with, whether you divided inventory responsibilities with other team members, or if there was a specific system you used for inventory. By being specific, you are backing up your statement that you are familiar with these responsibilities.

5.

How do you move forward from a string of rejections?

Rejection is a normal part of any sales job. Let the interviewer know that you are human and rejection does get to you, but you know how to bounce back and keep being persistent, and that rejection fuels you to do better. Express that your past sales experience has taught you how to deal with rejection. Position rejection as a learning tool - through rejection, you learn how to adjust and improve your sales techniques to reduce the rate of rejection.

6.

What do you like about being a sales associate?

The interviewer wants to know why you are passionate about what you do, what specifically makes you enjoy being a sales associate. The answer to this question will give them a good idea of how committed you are to being a sales associate.

Rachelle's Answer

"I enjoy being able to constantly talk to and meet new people. I've always been a social person and this job allows me to be social on a daily basis."

7.

Are you able to work overtime, weekends, and holidays?

You will want to answer this one honestly. If you were aware that overtime, weekends and holidays were a requirement when you first applied, you can give a concise answer such as: "Yes, I am happy to take any hours that are given to me! I have a flexible lifestyle and am aware that the hours may be unconventional from time to time."

If you were not aware that overtime, weekends and holidays were a requirement, it is absolutely okay to ask: "I do have the ability to offer flexible work hours to my employer. What does the schedule rotation look like?" ...you can then continue the conversation from there.

If, for example, you are a single parent, a student, or work another part time job, this is the opportunity to tell the interviewer what days/times you are best available.

Rachelle's Answer

"Yes, I am happy to take any hours that are given to me! I have a flexible lifestyle and am aware that the hours may be unconventional from time to time."

Anonymous Answer

"Not over time because I have night classes too. I can definitely do the weekends and holidays."

Rachelle's Answer

Rather than focusing on what you cannot do (starting a sentence with a negative is an interview killer), try to talk about what you can do. I have offered a revision, below.

"I can work on weekends and holidays. My school schedule includes night classes, so I have some limitations when it comes to overtime."

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8.

You are scheduled to leave at 6 pm and your replacement doesn't show up. What would you do?

You want to show your dedication but also that you respect the rules within the organization. You can give a specific example of a time you previously worked later than your shift end-time. "If my replacement did not come to work, I would first report it to the necessary manager and if I was requested to work overtime until the replacement was able to make it in, I would absolutely do that. Previously, I have been known to stay late and come in on my day off to assist with staff shortages. I am always happy to help!"

Rachelle's Answer

"If my replacement did not come to work, I would first report it to the necessary manager and if I was requested to work overtime until the replacement was able to make it in, I would absolutely do that. Previously, I have been known to stay late and come in on my day off to assist with staff shortages. I am always happy to help!"

9.

How do you typically like to engage a customer?

It is important to show that you are attentive but have a purpose. Describe your style of communicating with customers. This is a chance for you to show why you are an excellent salesperson. We each have a unique personality and you want to convey your personal style to the interviewer.
You can even give a step-by-step example of how you might engage a customer who has walked into a store. For instance, “I like to greet the customer by saying hello and asking how they’re doing. I observe what they are looking at and give them information about the product(s). I then ask them if they have any questions. I keep the conversation light and friendly. I think it’s important to make the customer feel comfortable and taken care of.”

10.

What are some of the challenges you see that are facing this industry?

Do some research about the industry. Show the interviewer that you are knowledgeable of the industry and that you are keeping up with the constant changes. You should also give possible solutions to these problems - these ideas don’t have to be revolutionary, they could just be ideas that help gradually improve problems. This is extremely important because it shows your critical thinking skills. By doing this you are going a step further than what is asked of you in the initial question - it is your chance to impress the interviewer. Be sure to run these proposed solutions by a friend or family member beforehand when preparing for the interview. By practicing, you can be prepared for unforeseen questions or oppositions to your proposed solutions.

11.

Describe a situation where you negotiated terms with a tough customer.

Think back to a specific situation where you had to deal with a tough customer and when the outcome was successful. Describe the situation, your thought process when dealing with the customer, whether you negotiated or if the terms were non-negotiable, and of course the positive outcome of the situation. Ensure the interviewer that you stuck with company policy and discussed the terms with your superiors or management if needed. You want to demonstrate that you are a professional and know how to conduct yourself with any type of customer.

12.

How do you adapt in a constantly changing environment?

Show confidence when answering this question. You want to highlight the fact that you are able to adapt quickly while still being able to meet any goals that are put in front of you. Describe skills that you have that allow you to adapt to change, whether you are good at keeping calm under stressful situations, you are a quick learner, or you have excellent problem-solving skills. The interviewer should be confident that you are open to challenges, and in face thrive off of them. Give an example of a past job where you had to adjust to changes. Describe the changes, your plan of attack and thoughts about how to keep up with these changes, and the positive/successful outcome.

13.

How would you handle a situation where your co-worker was being rude to customers?

Your answer should be a smooth balance between abiding by company regulations and goals and being able to work harmoniously with your co-workers. Express that you would not agree with the co-worker's attitude but also do not come across as a "know-it-all" or a "snitch" in the workplace. This is another great time to give a real life example: "I worked as a server in a very busy pub a few years ago. While serving one of my tables, I overheard another servers' table complaining about how terrible their service had been so far. It was obvious that my co-worker wasn't feeling a connection with that table and was feeling overwhelmed. I approached my co-worker and offered to take the table off of her hands as she seemed very busy. She happily agreed! I approached the table in a positive way, apologetic for their needs not being met but also assured them that was going to change. I paid close attention to them for the rest of the evening. This was a win-win because the customers left happy and my co-worker felt I was helping, rather than judging her behavior."

Rachelle's Answer

"know-it-all"

14.

Do you work well on a team? How would you define teamwork?

Most jobs require some amount of teamwork so it is extremely important to be a team player. Tell the interviewer that you do work well in a team and if you enjoy teamwork, include this as well. When defining teamwork, include the importance of being able to collectively use your strengths to reach a mutual goal. Everyone plays a specific role and adds value to a team – compromise is also important. Share past examples of working in a team and include how you worked together, communicated, and problem solved with your team members.

Anonymous Answer

"Yes, I would define teamwork as someone who can take constructive criticism for my fellow team-workers so I'll be able to self reflect my behavior and grow individually."

Rachelle's Answer

I have offered a slight reword here to help with impact and clarity.

"Yes, I have always worked well on a team, whether it be in school or at work. I define good teamwork as the ability to collaborate, take constructive feedback, and grow as both a team and an individual to reach a common goal."

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15.

What do you think are the most important characteristics of a great sales associate?

There isn’t really a right answer to this question. You can answer this question by listing specific characteristics, such as providing great customer service, having good people skills, problem-solving, communication skills, building trust with customers, being knowledgeable of the product you’re selling, or being able to think on your feet. Your answer to this question should include characteristics you embody and that are pertinent to your success as a sales associate.

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