The interview process varies from company to company. This is a standard process used by many entry level sales organizations. Some companies will add additional rounds depending on how tough the decision is between candidates. Understanding these steps will help you avoid some surprises in the hiring process. Remember, these companies want you on their team or they wouldn’t be calling you. They receive hundreds of resumes/applications and clearly yours stood out. Approach the entire interview process with some confidence, not arrogance, that you are a great fit and the company would be lucky to hire you.
We aren’t going to tell you how to dress or how to cut your hair. You’re going to have to rely on common sense for those!
The sales interview process will almost always begin with a phone interview. A recruiter or manager will call you with several questions regarding your application but don’t be confused, this is an interview. They will ask if they’ve caught you at a good time, and if you answered the phone then you better say yes! They like to see how you fit the job description and will ask questions like, “Why are you interested in sales?” and “Do you feel you could handle rejection comfortably? Why?”
Many sales organizations will have you take an online personality assessment. This can be a fairly pivotal component of the hiring process depending on the company. Some companies weigh the results heavily when determining if a candidate is the right fit for a job. The algorithms on most assessments have become extremely advanced and can even understand levels of deceit. Just answer the questions naturally at a normal pace and you will be fine.
Round 1: In Person
If you were likable and gave good answers on the phone, most companies will bring you in regardless of the personality assessment results. This interview will usually be with your potential sales manager, vice president of sales, or both. They want to meet you and see how you behave in person. Outside sales is largely done by in person meetings and therefore your ability to hold a conversation elegantly and with confidence will greatly determine your success. See our article on the questions that will likely be asked in this interview and the next.
Round 2: Presentation, Panel Interview, Ride Day
After a successful first interview, round 2 is more rigorous and will be the final round for most entry level sales positions. For some jobs this round will include a ride along with a sales rep where you will go out in the field and actually make several cold calls. This step is to understand how you behave under pressure, in unfamiliar situations, and how you deal with rejection. It is also meant to give you a completely transparent look at what the day to day responsibilities look like so there is no confusion about what the job entails.
Another component is usually a presentation. Some companies will ask that you do some research on a given topic (sometimes the company itself) and give a PowerPoint presentation. If the research is on the company they may ask you to discuss how your goals align with their initiatives. A lot of times this presentation has little to do with the actual content but rather your ability to research something and speak confidently in front of a group.
Followed by this presentation will be a panel interview. This is where executives in the company will take turns asking you interview questions. Staying composed and answering one question at a time is key. Remember that if you’re already this far in the process, they clearly like something about you. Check out our article on interview questions to prepare for.