14 questions you should ask during an inside sales interview

by Steli Efti
salesinterviewquestions

So you’re looking to build out your inside sales team and you’ve lined up a full day of interviews with potential new hires.

They all have solid resumes with a good amount of experience at some legitimate companies. The only question now is: How will you figure out which person is the right choice for your team?

To make sure you don’t waste time and money on a bad hire who doesn’t fit the culture, there are some questions you absolutely need to be asking in your interviews with prospective inside sales reps.

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Here are 14 inside sales interview questions that will help you hire the best of the best:

1. What do you like about sales?

Or: "What aspects of sales are you passionate about?" However you ask the question, the goal is to ascertain whether the prospective sales rep is inspired by their work.

What To Watch For:

Look for someone who gets excited about solving problems for their prospects. You want to see genuine excitement—and an answer that isn’t all about money. If the interviewee is focused on earning money rather than solving customers’ problems or helping the company grow, that’s not a good sign. You want someone who is passionate about the work your company does, not the paychecks you’ll be signing.

2. What do you think your career will look like in 10 years?

It’s good to gather some insight into your prospective sales rep’s long-term career aspirations, and how they see themselves developing over the years to come.

What To Watch For:

You want to find a sales rep who isn’t content to sit at their cubicle and cash paychecks. You want someone who’s committed to helping the company grow—and growing as a person alongside.

3. How do you deal with a full day of rejections?

This question will speak to an inside sales rep’s resilience and their willingness to keep pushing through the struggle even when they’re in a sales slump or wading through a bad batch of leads.

What To Watch For:

Find out how they process rejection and what they do to move forward. If an inside sales rep is easily shaken by a handful of no’s from prospects, how well do you think they’ll rebound from a day or two of rejection?

4. What role do you see social media playing in your sales process?

In the digital age, social media will play a role in the sales process. The only question is what exactly that role is. Every inside sales rep has their own ideal sales process, and understanding how social media fits into that process is key.

What To Watch For:

You want your inside sales reps to be excited by the potential of social media—if an interviewee’s eyes light up when you ask about how they use social media in sales, that’s definitely a good sign. You also want to find out if they have any clear experience using social media for sales. Ask for specifics. Have they used LinkedIn to find leads or communicate with prospects?

5. What type of work environment do you thrive in?

This question will help you gauge whether a prospective inside sales rep will fit in well at your company. The inside sales process can be stressful, chaotic and very fast-paced. Use this question to understand the sales rep’s needs.

What To Watch For:

The answer you’re looking for will be unique to your company. Before you go into the interview, make sure you have a legitimate understanding of your sales team’s work environment, and then listen for how well the interviewee’s ideal work environment aligns with your own.

6. Are you currently reading any blogs or books related to work?

If a sales rep is not constantly learning new things and staying up-to-date on trends and best practices, they will fall behind the curve quick. You don’t want an inside sales rep who thinks they already know it all.

What To Watch For:

If they tell you they don’t invest any time in knowledge-building, you can assume they already view themselves as an expert. Don’t get me wrong; some great sales reps don’t read often, but they should be staying up on trends in some way, even if it’s an email newsletter. You want inside sales reps who are eager to learn more and continuously get better at what they do.

7. What questions would you ask to qualify a lead?

Learning about the rep’s ideal sales process will help you gauge how well they’ll perform using the inside sales processes at your company. You might even pick up a few golden qualification questions you hadn’t thought of before.

What to watch for:

Every inside sales rep has a slightly different sales process. Just because they don’t follow your ideal process to the letter doesn’t mean they won’t fit in at your company. Look for similarities between your process and theirs, and don’t be afraid to ask for the rationale behind the steps they take and the questions they ask.

8. How would you deal with a dream client who is being difficult?

Every inside sales rep runs into difficult prospects and clients. How the sales rep handles those situations can speak a lot to their sales prowess and whether they’ll fit in with your company culture.

What to watch for:

With this question, you’re trying to determine how quickly the prospective sales rep loses their cool when dealing with a difficult person. If their response is to cut that client and move on, listen to their reasoning. If it’s an ego-driven move, you may be better off looking elsewhere.

9. Tell me about a criticism that your last manager gave you and how you responded to it.

If an inside sales rep won’t accept criticism, you should run the other direction. But here’s the thing: If you simply ask them if they’re open to criticism, they’ll nod and smile—after all, who’d answer “no” to that? By asking for a specific example, you’ll gain better insight.

What to watch for:

When they’re telling their story, pay close attention to how they describe their manager. Are they painting that manager as an unreasonable enemy who was out to tear them down, or as someone who was genuinely looking to help them improve? No matter the story they tell, you’ll be able to get a feel for how well they actually receive criticism by keying in on that one aspect.

10. How comfortable are you with technology? Do you have experience with CRM tools?

It’s good to get a feel for how technologically savvy an inside sales rep is from the jump. Will they be able to manage their sales activity in your CRM without a lot of hand-holding?

What to watch for:

If they have a lot of experience with technology and CRM software—fantastic. If not, you shouldn’t immediately escort them to the door. Pay attention to how keen they are to learn the technological aspects of the job. Are they staunchly anti-tech, or do they really want to learn? If it’s the latter, teaching them the ropes may be worth the investment.

11. Have you ever had a sales slump? How did you get out of it?

Another great question that will speak to an inside sales rep’s ability to handle adversity. Every salesperson has encountered a slump, so what you really want to know is how they pulled themselves out.

What to watch for:

Sales slumps are going to happen; the important part is whether an inside sales rep is able to rebound. So listen to the process they took to beat the slump and get back on track. If they say they’ve never been in a slump, there’s a good chance they’re fudging the truth (or they’re a unicorn).

12. What steps will you take to go above and beyond the expectations for this role?

If an inside sales rep is only interested in checking off a list of job responsibilities, good luck reaching those big scary goals you set as a team. Try to get a feel for what they plan to bring to the table that no one else can or will.

What to watch for:

Are they actually willing to go above and beyond the job description and the standard 9-to-5 schedule? They don’t need to be logging 14-hour days all week long, but they should be willing to hop on the occasional evening call if it’ll help close a deal. Try to gather as much insight as you can on what their plan is to crush the standard expectations of the role.

13. What’s your favorite part of inside sales?

You want to build your inside sales team with people who are truly passionate about inside sales. If they’re not passionate, they won’t be as willing to put in the work required to crush your company’s goals and sales quotas.

What to watch for:

Inside sales is different than the old-school sales process. There are two things you want to keep an eye on here: First, how do they generally feel about inside sales, and second, what specifically excites them about inside sales? Once you know which aspects they’re into the most, you can assess whether or not there’s a need on your team for someone specializing in whatever those aspects may be. From there, you can see how well they’d fit within your inside sales team.

14. What do you think is our product’s most valuable offering?

If they’re going to be selling your product, you want to get a feel for how they plan to do just that. Of course, they won’t know every feature of the product yet, but see how well they can identify and explain your primary value propositions based on what they DO know.

What to watch for:

If they’re able to pitch your primary value proposition after merely doing a little research on their own, you can feel confident about their ability to do the same on a sales call. Plus, a prospect who’s truly keen on working for you will have done their homework. A lack of research betrays a lack of interest.

Now It’s Your Turn

If you want to make sure you’re hiring inside sales reps who are ready to thrive at your company, these questions will help.

You don’t have to use every question verbatim. Adapt them to fit your style and your unique company culture. Take the questions you like, sprinkle in some of your own, and start hiring the best inside sales reps of the bunch.

Here’s a quick recap of the 14 questions you should ask during your inside sales interviews:

  1. What do you like about sales?
  2. What do you think your career will look like in 10 years?
  3. How do you deal with a full day of rejections?
  4. What role do you see social media playing in your sales process?
  5. What type of work environment do you thrive in?
  6. Are you currently reading any blogs or books related to work?
  7. What questions would you ask to qualify a prospect?
  8. How would you deal with a dream client who is being difficult?
  9. Tell me about a criticism that your last manager gave you and how you responded to it.
  10. How comfortable are you with technology? Do you have experience with CRM tools?
  11. Have you ever had a sales slump? How did you get out of it?
  12. What steps will you take to go above and beyond the expectations for this role?
  13. What’s your favorite part of inside sales?
  14. What do you think is our product’s most valuable offering?

What are your go-to questions when you interview prospective inside sales reps? Drop a comment and share with the class.

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