How do you handle interview questions about your last job?

Been looking for a new spot since I got fired in October. I’ve had a handful of interviews, but very few of them ever got in front of a hiring manager (and obviously no offers yet). I think (though have not been able to confirm) that the sticking point seems to be the sales cycle/sales motion, market segmentation, and deal size at my last spot (the job that fired me) was quite different than my other jobs, and quite different from the jobs I’ve been applying for. I kind of suspected this would happen, but I needed a job after a layoff, and took it thinking I would find something else and not even have to put it on my resume.

Essentially, at my last job I was an AE whose job was to call free trial accounts and leads generated by the SDR team and try to get them to convert to paying customers. Often this was simply closing them over that first phone call (walking them through the process of adding their credit card for payment), but sometimes it would require a demo or a face-to-face Zoom meeting. At least 90% of the deals I closed were done in 7-10 days (if that long). We’re talking quick, transactional sales, measured in MRR, with sizes ranging from $25-300 (the average was around $50), and our quota was $1500 MRR per month. The types of people we sold to were often the actual business owner, who was often a solopreneur or running his own consultancy or something similar. Occasionally I’d close a deal for a construction company, or someone in the trades, but again very small business (usually under 3 employees). There was zero cold outbound prospecting, and we didn’t even have access to tools like Sales Nav or Zoominfo. It sounded “easy” when I was going through the interview process, but it was much harder in reality. Easily the most difficult job I ever had. The pay wasn’t that good either ($50k base/$75k OTE).

The role prior I was an AE with a more typical job function. About 80% of my deals were self-sourced via my outbound prospecting efforts. Deal sizes around $50k ARR (but some well into the six figures), with a 45-60 day sales cycle, no set market segmentation so I sold to everyone from SMB to Enterprise. But even the SMBs we dealt with were 50-100 employees.

During interviews I try to steer the conversation more towards the more conventional AE role, but eventually my last role comes up and I can feel the energy being sucked out of the interview. I can’t leave the job off my resume because then I’ll have nothing for 2023 on there, but lying doesn’t seem right either. And talking about my non-SaaS B2B sales experience (6 years in banking) doesn’t seem to help either. Any advice? Do I just start over at SDR again and hope for the best?

🗣 Interviewing
Sr Sales Executive 🐰
Wow, I thought I had posted earlier, but guess not.

What I’d recommend is, when the inevitable questions about your current role come up, be honest but not derogatory about the role. Explain what you did, that you were successful, but that it made you realize how much more you preferred your previous role and sales motion, and that you are eager for the opportunity to get back to what you are best at. Do your best to be positive, focus on attainment and what you have learned in each role that will apply to future roles and make you the best pick for the next position.

It’s still tough out there, but I bet there’s a great position out there for you.
Follow these steps.

Good luck @Space_Ghost20 !
sae e-commerce
Agreed, always try to spin these tough situations into positive. Even if you say it was a mutual 'walking away' because you desired more for yourself.
WR Officer
Ambassador and Member
Hi, thank you for sharing. The role you did in 2023 if i understood correctly it seems that all metrics you shared are in MRR terms.

From my understanding especially from recruiters stage they tend to (speaking from my observation only here) to focus on annual Avg order values.

I appreciate you being ethical and integral when sharing numbers. One suggestion is to sharing annual numbers ex: avg annual contract/order value, number of signed logos for the year, the stage of the company you are selling for (ex: early stage startup) as that also demonstrates your ability to do so much by independently with self source deals without the support of marketing or the business.

I would still push for AE roles since you still have strong AE background with important numbers prior to being let go. SDR role is tricky because some companies promise to promote you from within but they really never have a solid track record of doing that. then again if you do apply you for sure will be at an advantage and perhaps even a much better pay than the current $50k base and $75k OTE.

It really is a question of how patient and resilient you are to wait for the right AE opportunity vs need to find something ASAP. Hope this helps. Wish you the best and keep us updated on your job hunt.
Valued Contributor
Account Executive
Thanks for the input. I would say I would need to find something with a start date of mid March, or else I'll be in a bit of a crunch. So time is somewhat of a factor. The company I last worked for was a late stage startup (they were founded in 2002 and plan to go public by the end of 2025) and if I were to translate the MRR to ARR, the deals were in the $500-1200 ARR range (largest deal I sold there was $3600 ARR) and I was closing anywhere from 20 to 40 deals a month. These figures are not at all impressive, especially when I compare to what I was doing in 2022.
Ambassador and Member
Hi, Thanks for answering the question. looking the avg it seems like a 30 new logos per month or 360 logos a year with an avg ARR of 850 (excluding the largest deal since its an outlier) that means you did an avg of $306k in closed won for the year 2023.

Which to contrary belief is still a decent close considering that fact that the majority (%? ) is self sourced and the deals being very transactional deals (still b2b) (my opinion) I believe you may apply for transactional SaaS products for an AE role (Avg contract value of $10k-$25k ideally for your overall experience) and Enterprise products (Enterprise SDR Role) as both would give you the opportunity to make more money than the current described AE role.

Have not had an interview in the last 5 years. Need questions I can ask


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