Interview Advice


Before the interview takes place the key to creating the right impression is preparation. It is your responsibility to understand what the role involves, what type of individual they are looking for and also a brief history of the company or organisation.

First Impressions

Don’t be late!
First impressions are so important
Smart business dress is a minimum standard – Business Suits are a must – Jackets must be worn and men must wear ties – jewellery to be kept to a minimum.

(If you are having an interview via SKYPE please still dress as if it is a face to face interview, at least on top!)

Strong handshake, eye contact and a smile are important.
Remember the person’s name.
Maintain eye contact throughout the meeting.
You should always take a pen, paper, and additional copies of your CV, research a list of questions you want to ask.

The interviewer is looking for enthusiasm, energy, responsiveness and a positive attitude at all times

The Interview

  • Don’t Ramble: be concise and to the point
  • Listen carefully to what is being said & don’t be tempted to jump in!
  • Use Examples: be prepared to back up all of your answers with an example ofyour success, take along league tables, letters of recognition, awards, etc.
  • Don’t crack jokes – if you don’t take this seriously, neither will theinterviewer
  • Don’t criticise your current employer however badly you feel you’ve been treated!Companies always look at how your attitude is towards your current employer as an indication of how your attitude is in general.
    Try and get your points across in a positive manner.
  • Always relate your skills to how it will benefit the customer

The interview questions you may be asked:

Tell me about yourself?

The question can be delivered in several ways i.e. Take me through your CV, Tell me about your background, Why am I interviewing you and what have you done that makes you suitable for this role.

The key here is to have a well-prepared generic answer that covers most of the points in the job description.

Education: If you have a degree or scholastic achievements worthy of note mention this first briefly.

Experience: talk about your previous experience and always highlight your successes.

Sales: Now look at the items you’ve sold. If you are going for a role in a similar industry to one you are in now or have been in, then the emphasis should be on that. If it’s a role outside your direct experience then try to show how different the products or services you sold are so you show that it was you selling the product not the product selling itself.

Clients: Who have you sold to, again be generic to cover many bases quickly i.e. I have sold to small, medium and large companies or if it was a direct sales role talk briefly about the different types of people you have sold to.

Who: If you can pick out some impressive companies you had success with now is the time to mention them.

Area: What territory did you cover?

Targets: What was your target and what did you achieve. If there is a reason for not hitting target then take the target part out of this example and instead state what your personal target and achievement was. Do not start talking at this stage about failure or make any excuses.

New & Existing Business: Talk about your ability to generate and close new business as well as your ability to develop and maximise existing accounts.

Achievements: this is your opportunity to really sell yourself.

What do you know about us?

This is time to show that you have done your homework. We would recommend printing information from the web site or requesting a brochure to be sent to you prior

to the interview. Highlight some key points that you can mention i.e. size, turnover, ethos etc

What are your biggest strengths?

The bottom line is that you are a salesperson going for a sales role so sales must your biggest strength so mention this first and then back it up with personal one word examples i.e. My strength is my sales ability because I am motivated, enthusiastic, good at closing etc.

Give a couple of examples of how you’ve talked someone round to your way of thinking and ‘gone the extra mile’ for a customer.

Another strong example would be to talk about your organisation skills and work ethic but Sales Ability should always come first.

What are your weaknesses?

You have to recognise that you have been asked a negative question which might as well have been Why should I not hire you?

The last thing you want to do is to give ammunition to this by stating your paperwork or timekeeping could be better. Instead you need to deliver an example of something you struggled with and how you turned it around i.e. when I first started selling I was weak at dealing with people who were unreliable, dishonest, people who start negotiating at the last minute or messed you around. I found that time and again I would miss these clients out and concentrate more on the people I liked but then I realised through training and experience that it wasn’t personal. Now I make sure that I am persistent with difficult clients and I now win a lot of business from them.

Where do you want to be in five years time?

You need to break it down. Time and again people lose opportunities because they state management but give no path to how they expect to make it happen.

Short term – Talk about your desire to sell the product and be one the company’s most consistent performers.
Mid term – Talk about the training and help you will give to other members of the team.

Long term – If you can sell and train others to do so then you should be asking for that management opportunity and the interviewer will probably try to sell this to you.

Why do you want to leave your current employer?

No matter how well you are getting on with the interviewer do not start being negative. It does not matter how bad your boss is or how bad the working conditions are.

Be positive give examples of broadening your experience or getting a new challenge.

What is the biggest challenge you have had?

Keep it works related. You need to keep it relevant and this needs to be an example of something which will impress the interviewer and make sure the example you give makes you look good at the end.

Why do you want this job?

Career progression, money & recognition are all acceptable answers and what a sales organisation is looking for.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Again, another opportunity to sell yourself so list the examples of your sales skills and work ethic.

What motivates you?

Keep to ways that will benefit the company if you are successful i.e. hitting targets, getting the job done, recognition for achievement.

Can you give an example of an impossible situation you have been in? How did you resolve it & what did you learn from it?

Why have you not been in certain jobs for very long (if applicable)?

Do not try to justify short stays by blaming others. Focus on looking for a long time stable career now, state that you are aware of this and you can’t afford to make a mistake.

Questions Guide

You should always have pre prepared questions for the interviewer. This is also applicable if you really want the role but don’t want to seem too pushy. The interviewer wants to see that you are capable of asking constructive open questions. Here are some examples:

  • What opportunities for progression are there?
  • What targets have you set for this year?
  • What does your best salesperson earn?
  • What does the average salesperson earn?
  • What is the difference between the best and average salespeople here? – What do the best salespeople do to make them so successful?
  • Why would a company buy from us? ClosingIn a sales interview you are always expected to close.

The first thing you should do is to deal with any reservations the interviewer may have. Try a positive question like “ Thanks for the time today, I am really impressed and I want the job what else can I do to get the position “?

You must close for the job. If you are unsure and not positive enough to ask “Have I got the role?”, then you should ALWAYS ask, “What is the next step “?

Good luck