Prep for the Interview

By Adriana Puckett

Perhaps you’re ready for new sales challenges, or maybe you’re one of the unfortunate attendees of the pink-slip parties that have been happening recently. Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for a new sales job you’ll undoubtedly encounter what most people dread the most in the employment process: the interview.

It seems that salespeople would be pros at giving great interviews; they are suave presenters and frequently sell their product or service to groups – why can’t they sell themselves to future employers? But interviewing – like closing a sale successfully – is an art that should be studied and practiced.

A quick trip to’s interviewing center ( allows you to take part in a virtual sales interview online where you answer questions about your motivation, successful strategies to generate new sales, job history and satisfaction, making self-directed decisions and adjusting to changes in work procedures.

A few hints to guide you through the interview:

1. Tell it just like it is
When you are asked to recount an incident where you generated new sales, don’t talk in generalities about your creativity. Instead, say: “I suggested we follow up on trade-show leads with a thank-you card and a sample widget. This resulted in a 30-percent increase in closing those leads.”

2. Any questions?
It’s inevitable – at the end of the interview, the interviewer will ask sweetly, “So, do you have any questions?” Novice interviewees will respond, “No, that’s it. I think you covered everything.” Suave contenders will have polished questions that take into account the role of the interviewer (human resources representative or manager, for example) and that reveal something important about the company.

Ask, for example, about the top qualities the company is looking for in their next salesperson. Other key areas to explore include territories, market share and company culture. However, self-centered questions about salary, vacation or benefits should not be asked in the first interview.

3. In closing
So, you use closings only for sales calls, right? Wrong! Close the interview just as you would a sales call. Don’t lose focus and start to discuss the weather, traffic or personal things. Summarize your selling history and strengths (summary close) or paint an image of how well you would integrate with and enhance the current sales team (persuasion close). The interview isn’t over until you walk out the door, so don’t lose perspective after the “official” questions are over.