This is an authoritative guide to interview questions for salespersons in all retail, consumer goods, autos and real estate. These questions can be used for applicants preparing for an interview or for interviewers preparing to interview candidates. With more than four million persons working in sales and expected growth of nearly two million in ten years, this is likely the biggest source of jobs in the U.S. economy.
First, look at the job duties
If you are an applicant, read the job ad. If you are in interviewer, read the job description. Then develop a few key technical questions based on job duties.
Identify technical questions
Applicants and interviewers alike should write out each question, research the question, and write out the best answer. Use the STAR technique: Situation, Task, Actions and Results. Each answer should:
- Explain the situation or task at hand.
- Detail your actions in first person (say “I did this” and not “we did that.”
- Describe the results and how it helped a person or how it improved your organization.
Go to the list to review behavioral questions
O*NET ranks the importance of following Work Styles for salespersons. See the list below for the weights given to each factor. Interviewers use these O*NET work style factors to construct behavior-based questions. A good behavior-based interview will have no more than eight to ten questions.
- Dependability — 87
- Cooperation — 86
- Self Control — 86
- Integrity — 85
- Attention to Detail — 83
- Concern for Others — 78
- Initiative — 77
Practice answering questions
Past behaviors are the best predictor of future behaviors. Therefore, expect to be asked about what you have done in previous jobs, school, home or community. You need to think through very specific accomplishments related to job characteristics. Many questions will take time to think through. Effective interviewers will actually ask you to take time to think about your answers. They will wait in silence until you come up with an answer. It is more important to think through and communicate good examples of whom you are than to show you can answer questions quickly. Quick answers will more likely be the wrong answers.
Real Estate Sales Agents
Expect additional questions for real estate agents. Being honest and ethical is a key factor to success in real estate, according to O*NET. Interviews should explore this criterion thoroughly. Another key differentiating factor in real estate sales is whether you enjoy greater independence, can handle stress and are very persistent. Expect questions about how you have navigated uncharted waters with little or no supervision, got things done one your own and have overcome obstacles.
Rent, buy, or sell property for clients. Perform duties, such as study property listings, interview prospective clients, accompany clients to property site, discuss conditions of sale, and draw up real estate contracts. Includes agents who represent buyer.
This may be a good time to look in to the profession with home sales starting to rebound. The 2012 median wage was just under $40,000 annually.