All too often people find themselves on the job market unexpectedly. Sales people in this predicament have one of the toughest times in a job search because they think (the key word here is think) they are the best “interviewees” out there. This is because sales people need to have a confident and assertive persona to be successful in their job. This mentality is also often what hurts them in the interview process. As a sales recruiter, I have encountered many sales people whose egos were so large they could not even fit through the door! They sit down in the interview with me, and proceed to give me the most typical answers I hate so much to hear. The crazy thing about it is that each believes that their answers are a unique and well thought out introspect on themselves. Below are some common interview questions with those answers I dislike so much. Read the below exchange so you aren’t a “typical” candidate next time you interview.
Recruiter: “What kind of compensation are you looking for?”
This question is designed to figure out what kind of overall money you require. It is not an opening for you to tell us what kind of money you think you have “always really deserved”.
Typical Answer: “I must have a base salary of xxxx dollars, because that is what I need to live”
This answer reflects a candidate who is not interested in selling at all. If the base salary pays all of your living expenses, then what is your commission/incentive package for? Spending money? Vacations? Maybe that car you’ve always wanted? Professional sales is about making money from two sources: the base AND the incentives. If you could live happily on your base you don’t truly have any reason to get out there and sell!!!
Recruiter: “What industry are you looking to sell within?”
This question is designed to determine specific areas of interest.
Typical Answer: “I would like to be in IT/Pharmaceutical/Consumer sales etc. etc.”
Please understand that the most “popular” or “hot” industries are also the most competitive to get into. Since the popular field currently is IT (which encompasses web, internet, software etc) the hiring authorities are being even MORE selective than ever before. If you know it’s “hot”, trust me, the companies themselves know it too!
Recruiter: “Based on your background/past experience you are not qualified to interview with any of my client companies in that particular industry”
This statement is not meant to discourage you from going after your dream, but to give you a realistic idea of what is out there for you. We do not create the job market; we simply share the information with you about positions available at your level.
Typical Answer: “But I have a friend who got into that industry and he/she had very little/no experience.”
Everyone can name at least one friend or family member who was in the right place at the right time and succeeded in landing that “needle in the haystack” job. Sometimes it was because they were referred by an uncle, neighbor, co-worker, college buddy etc.. Sometimes it was because management found some extra money in the budget and decided to take a risk on a more junior level hire. Just remember that you will never know all the details.
Recruiter: “What skills do you have that make you a strong sales candidate?”
This question is an open door to toot your own horn and also set yourself apart from the rest of the flock. Remember that we interview for a living, so we tend to hear LOTS of typical answers!
Typical Answers: “I am a people person”, “I like dealing with people”, “I am great at building relationships”, “I am great at servicing accounts/clients”, or “people really like me”
It is truly amazing to us, just how many people are SURE that they have FANTASTIC communication skills. Candidates who use the above answers have not only placed themselves into the majority, but also told us that they lack creativity and confidence. We hear the same exact answers in 95% of our interviews and always hope to hear just ONE that is different. So think hard about what YOU bring to the table, and why YOU will be a strong salesperson.
As your recruiter, our role is to help you find the best job for YOU!!!!! We not only look at your qualifications, but your presentation, goals, wants, needs, and especially your personality. We try to guide you into a sales role that will not only be enjoyable and lucrative, but will advance your career in the long run as well. Sometimes you have to start with a stepping stone, so please try to be realistic when you tell us what you “must have in the next job”. We can accomplish this mutual goal by educating you, the candidate, on what we feel is the BEST MATCH!!
Written By Jennifer Krinsky, Senior Account Manager & 12 year veteran at Porter Group, Inc.