33 Questions and Answers Written by Professional Interviewers
Question 1 of 33
How do you handle stressful situations?
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It is important to show the interviewer that you can handle high-stress situations in a healthy way. Explain your process when handling a stressful work-related situation. You can do this by describing a past experience where you successfully handled your stress. You can also include stress-reducing activities you partake in outside of work.
It is important to stay calm and be patient and to be personable while closing a customer. I like to make them feel like they’re receiving the best customer service while also trying to connect with them on a personal level. Customers should feel comfortable, not like you’re forcing them to buy something they don’t want/need for your own agenda. They should always feel that you have their best interests at heart. I like to ask the right questions to figure out the customer’s wants and needs and to create a sense of urgency. They must know they are receiving a great product for the best price, and that it fits in with their needs.
You can take this opportunity to tell a memorable story. Sales really is story-telling! "Ever since I was young, I knew that I had a natural ability for sales. I worked as an ice-cream re-seller when I was just 12 years old. I had a cooler full of ice that I attached to my bicycle! I would ride to the neighborhood park after school and offer the goodies to the neighborhood kids for $2 a piece. I absolutely loved the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day when my ice-cream inventory was all sold and I could count all of the money I made. I continue to apply that same excitement when hitting my sales goals as an adult. I just cannot seem to beat how great that feeling is when I complete a project and exceed my targets."
"Ever since I was young, I knew that I had a natural ability for sales. I worked as an ice-cream re-seller when I was just 12 years old. I had a cooler full of ice that I attached to my bicycle! I would ride to the neighborhood park after school and offer the goodies to the neighborhood kids for $2 a piece. I absolutely loved the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day when my ice-cream inventory was all sold and I could count all of the money I made. I continue to apply that same excitement when hitting my sales goals as an adult. I just cannot seem to beat how great that feeling is when I complete a project and exceed my targets."
When answering this question you want to tell the interviewer what specifically makes you enjoy socializing with customers. You should discuss what gives you joy when helping a customer and why it is fulfilling to you. Being a naturally social person is a positive attribute to have, so if you are the type of person who loves talking to people and meeting new people, tell the interviewer this. Socializing with customers through sociable conversations is a great way to build relationships and to ensure that they become or continue to be recurring customers.
What do you know about the products and or services we offer our customers?
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Prepare for the interview by doing a Google search on the company, going on their website, and reviewing their social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). It is important to get a good grasp on their products and/or services. You should also be familiar with the company’s story, culture and mission statement. You want to show the interviewer that you have a good grasp of their products/services and how their culture ties into what they offer.
6. 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. Here is an answer example: 7. Have you ever walked up to a stranger and started a conversation, tell me about that experience. This is your chance to show the interviewer that you are not afraid to approach potential customers. By showing that you are comfortable when it comes to openly talk to people, you can demonstrate that you are an ideal candidate for the sales associate position. When giving this example, be specific, give details. Describe why you talked to the stranger, what the purpose of your initiation of the conversation was, how you felt when talking to the stranger (if you felt comfortable or confident), how the person responded to you and the outcome of the conversation. Here is an answer example: 8. What do you think are the most important skills in succeeding in sales? This is the type of question you should anticipate when going for an interview. To prepare beforehand, be sure to single out strengths of yours that you think makes you most successful at your job – you want to use these strong skills to answer this question. Elaborate on why you think these skills are so important. You can even say how these skills help you succeed at your job. Here is an answer example: 9. What attracts you to this position? Answer this question by speaking about the position, why it is right for you, and about the company and why it is the right fit for you. Pick an essential aspect of the position and explain how you will be able to deliver that duty in the best way.
You should also mention specifically why you want this particular position. For instance, if it is a good fit for you professionally and in respect to your personal life, let the interviewer know why. You can say, “This position will allow me to utilize my sales abilities and help me learn and grow professionally. I also believe this position would also give me the opportunity to reach my personal goals of being able to live the lifestyle I want.” Here is an answer example: 10. What do you enjoy most about the selling experience? You should certainly think about this question before going in for your interview. Choose a specific aspect of selling that you enjoy, whether it is the excitement you get from making a sale or helping customers find what they are looking for. Elaborate on why you like this particular aspect by sharing a fulfilling experience you have had in the past.
For example, “I really enjoy providing customers with the best service. I know how important customer service is to me, so I pride myself on giving customers a good experience. This means being friendly and helpful, describing the product(s) to and answering any questions the customer may have, and having the customer leave with a purchase they are happy and excited about.” Here is an answer example: 11. As a sales professional, what do you see as your primary and secondary roles within a company? To answer this question, think about your top goals from your past experiences as a sales associate and choose the two that are most important to being successful. Explain why are your primary and secondary roles. For example, “As a sales associate, my primary role is to make sales. I always have my sales goal in mind and do everything I can to reach this goal. My secondary role is to provide good customer service to maintain a positive reputation of the company. It is very important to provide customers with the best experience, this is the best way to gain repeat customers.” Here is an answer example: 12. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."13. Why should we hire you? This is your opportunity to sell yourself! Be sure to include answers that reinforce your ability to solve the potential employer's current need. Give an example of a past success. "From what I understand, you are looking for a passionate team member who will help you increase profits immediately. In my last position I was able to increase our average client's monthly spend by 12% within 4 months of joining the organization. I would love the opportunity to bring successes like this to your company." Here is an answer example: "From what I understand, you are looking for a passionate team member who will help you increase profits immediately. In my last position I was able to increase our average client's monthly spend by 12% within 4 months of joining the organization. I would love the opportunity to bring successes like this to your company."14. Do you have any prior experience in the field of sales and customer service? This question is pretty straightforward. If you have prior sales/customer service experience, describe your experience. This question offers a great opportunity to reveal sales and customer service experiences that may not be revealed in your resume. Give examples by using your previous work experience, whether you worked in a retail environment or in a call center – provide them with ALL of your sales/customer service experience, don’t spare any details. The interviewer should be able to get a good understanding of what exact experience you have through the examples you provide. If you do not have experience in these fields, tell the interviewer so and find a way to describe why you would be good at sales/customer service. If you are a very social person and find it easy to speak to strangers, or if you are the friend who constantly introduces your friends to new products and brands, share this with the interviewer. Even if you don’t have past sales/customer service work experience, you should be able to demonstrate that you are drive and that you have the skills needed to be successful in sales. Here is an answer example: 15. How good are you with targets and deadlines? Be sure to give an example of a time you were given a deadline and met or exceeded it. You can also include information on the technology or tools that you used to achieve your goal. "I am a strong goal-setter and have a proven ability to meet deadlines. For example, in my previous position I was asked to sell 75% of the xyz product because the product was going to be out of season shortly. After mapping out the amount of product I needed to sell per day, I was able to exceed the goal. I ended up selling 90% of the product in the timeframe that was given to me. Part of my success was due to my ability to create a plan in an Excel spreadsheet and properly utilize the company's SalesForce system." Here is an answer example: "I am a strong goal-setter and have a proven ability to meet deadlines. For example, in my previous position I was asked to sell 75% of the xyz product because the product was going to be out of season shortly. After mapping out the amount of product I needed to sell per day, I was able to exceed the goal. I ended up selling 90% of the product in the timeframe that was given to me. Part of my success was due to my ability to create a plan in an Excel spreadsheet and properly utilize the company's SalesForce system."16. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Your answer should be positive and in alignment with the organizations' long term goals. It would be helpful to research the company's vision/ mission ahead of time to see how your personal career goals would fit. "On your website I read that you are estimating an overall growth of 600% over the next 4 years. If given the opportunity, over time, I would be happy to take on additional responsibilities and move into a management position. I would also be excited to participate in company approved courses and workshops in order to further develop my skills to compliment the company's long term goals." Here is an answer example: "On your website I read that you are estimating an overall growth of 600% over the next 4 years. If given the opportunity, over time, I would be happy to take on additional responsibilities and move into a management position. I would also be excited to participate in company approved courses and workshops in order to further develop my skills to compliment the company's long term goals."17. 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. Here is an answer example: 18. Do you have any experience selling the products we offer? It is important to speak the truth when answering this question. If you are familiar with selling the company’s products, talk specifically about your experience – how long you sold this product, what specific brand(s) you sold, where you sold the product (in malls, trade shows, fairs, kiosks, etc.) whether or not you had to meet sales goals in the past, and any accomplishments you have achieved while selling this particular product. If you are not familiar with selling the company’s products, you should let the interviewer know that even though you aren’t familiar with selling the specific products, you are well experienced with selling and that you are confident that you have the skills to be a successful salesperson for them. Here is an answer example: 19. 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. Here is an answer example: 20. 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. Here is an answer example: 21. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."22. 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." Here is an answer example: "know-it-all"23. 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.” Here is an answer example: 24. 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!" Here is an answer example: "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!"25. 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. Here is an answer example: 26. Describe a time when a customer wasn't happy. What did you do to fix it? This question allows the interviewer to get an idea of whether you will be a good representative for the company. Think back to a specific time when you dealt with an unhappy customer and were able to create a positive outcome. First, describe the situation – why was the customer unhappy – then, what specifically did you do to fix the situation. If the outcome of the situation led to the customer becoming a regular of yours, this is a bonus. This shows that you not only solved the initial situation, but you created a relationship and trust with this customer. The interviewer wants to know that you are ok with dealing with confrontation and that your customer service skills are up to par with what they are looking for. You should be able to show that you know how to effectively problem solve and use these skills to retain customers. Here is an answer example: 27. 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. Here is an answer example: 28. What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to improve it? This is definitely a question you should prepare for ahead of time – it is usually a topic that most people struggle with answering. You should focus on a weakness that is related to you professionally, not personally. The weakness you choose to discuss should be minor, something that isn’t detrimental to you doing your job. Describe how tackling this weakness has helped you grow in a professionally and personally by telling the interviewer what exactly you are doing to improve on your weakness.
For example, you can say, “My greatest weakness is that I tend to try to please everyone. I sometimes help my coworkers before helping myself. I have been working on making sure I put my needs first, then helping my coworkers. It is something I stay conscious of and am continually trying to improve on.” Here is an answer example: 29. 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.“ Here is an answer example: 30. 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. Here is an answer example: 31. 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. Here is an answer example: 32. In your current position, how much time would you say you spend directly with prospects and customers throughout the sales day and what specifically do you do with them? This is an easy and straightforward question to answer. Tell the interviewer how much time you spend with customers – for example, you can answer this part of the question in terms of a percentage. Describe how you interact with customers on a daily basis. Be specific, whether you are helping them find the right product for their needs or answering questions, the interviewer wants to know what you’re accustomed to helping customers with. Here is an answer example: 33. 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.” Here is an answer example:
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