Nailing the Interview

A step-by-step guide to mastering your next sales interview and confidently landing the job you want.

What does a typical sales interview process look like?

A typical hiring process will consist of several steps, each with its own purpose:

  • Phone screen:  Checks to see if you meet the minimum threshold of experience and performance in order to move on to the next round.

  • Hiring manager/senior sales exec interview:  Probes deeper on past accomplishments; tests for strategic thinking skills -- both in how you think about past deals and in how thoroughly you’ve researched the company you’re interviewing at.

  • Mock sales meeting or presentation:  Assesses your ability to uncover your customer’s unstated needs and problem-solve solutions to address them; also tests basic selling skills like objection handling and pricing negotiation.

  • Stakeholder interviews (optional):  Covers your ability to work with multiple departments to get deals done, e.g. legal, etc.


What do I need to do to succeed in interviews?

In order to crush your interviews and get an offer, you’ll need to:

Highlight achievements and learnings:

Don't just restate info on your LinkedIn profile or resume; provide specific examples of past achievements and highlight what you learned from them.

Don’t

Say: “I worked at Twilio for 2 years and hit 115% of quota on average.”

Do

Say: “I closed $4.5 M in my time at Twilio, including several deals above $500K to Fortune 100 companies. I did this by triangulating multiple contacts in different departments at those companies, researching how they could use SMS and Voice to improve their department’s performance, and scheduled discovery calls with each of them.”

Show deep understanding of the company/product:

  • Read every single news article published about the company you’re interviewing at, and take note of any competitors or risks mentioned in the press;

  • Test out the product thoroughly and come up with a list of product shortcomings. If you can’t test it, try reaching out to contacts you know that use the product to get their feedback;

  • Come to hiring manager/sales exec interviews armed with a list of questions around how the company plans to differentiate itself from competitors, handle headwinds, and deal with specific product issues.

Demonstrate empathy for your customer’s pain points:

  • Almost every sales interview process will contain some kind of mock discovery meeting or sales presentation.
Don’t

Give a long-winded, generic monologue of a sales pitch.

Do
  • Give a short introduction of yourself and the product;
  • Ask the prospect questions about their company, role, responsibilities, goals, and problems they’re having;
  • Follow up on their answers with concrete, targeted examples of how this product can help them;
  • Set concrete, time-bound next steps.

At the end of the day, interviewing is basically just another form of selling, except you’re selling yourself instead of a product. The more you recycle canned, generic reasons for why a company should hire you, the more canned, generic rejection emails you’ll get. But if you do a good job of researching the prospect, coming up with thoughtful, strategic questions, and tailoring your pitch, you’re much more likely to close the deal.



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