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Sales Strategy
What are the best phone interview questions to wean out bad sales candidates prior to in-person interviews?
Feb 17, 2015 | The Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

During the long and tedious sales hiring process, weeding through the initial batch of potential hires can be a difficult process. To make the preliminary contact, many sales managers consider telephone interviews as the first stage in the hiring process, as they give companies the option to immediately screen poor candidates and identify the quality ones.

In order to keep sales phone interviews straightforward and time efficient, it is important interviewers have an arsenal of questions ready. Interviews conducted over the phone should be the gateway that leads the best quality hires to the formal interview stage.  The typical phone interview should last no more than 30 minutes and should be comprised of a mixture of competency questions, questions about the candidates resume as well as their work experience and short term aspirations/expectations. Break the interview process into 3 distinct groups of questions: background, personal and questions about the potential position.

Here are a variety of questions to conduct over an initial sales phone interview with potential hires:

Background Questions:

• Please tell me a little bit about yourself. *Letting the candidate open up personally is a great way to break the ice*.

• What do you know about this company?

• What is your education background?

• Please describe your most recent position.

• What were your main responsibilities and largest achievements?

•What major problems did you face in your previous position and how did you overcome them?

Personal Questions

• What is the most important thing you’re looking for in a company?

• How many years’ experience do you have in sales?

• How well do you handle stress and pressure at work? Please give an example of how you overcame a stressful sales situation.

• What are your greatest strengths?

• What are your greatest weaknesses?

Questions Regarding the Position

This portion of the interview process should be a back and forth session of questions between you and your potential hire. Whether you choose to ask questions, or give the interviewee the opportunity to inquire, the following topics should always be covered:

• What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?

• How will my performance be measured?

• How does this position fit into the department? Whom will I be working with a reporting to?

• Please describe your management style and the type of employee who fits well within it?

Remember, phone interviews are the preliminary stage of the sales hiring process. Gauge the interest and experience level of the candidate using the questions above, so you can reduce turnover on your team and build a strong workforce.

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