It’s a lesson you’ve been learning since you were a child. If you forgot your lunchbox, you’d be pretty hungry when you got home from school. If you didn’t do your homework, you may get a bad grade or be embarrassed if the teacher called on you in class.
It’s a terrible feeling when you realize what you should’ve done but didn’t.
The same goes for a sales job interview — except this time the stakes are much higher. And like it or not, if you’re not prepared, the next candidate will be.
So how do you prepare for those tricky interview questions — the ones that seem designed to put you on the spot?
The truth is, they are meant to put you on the spot. Hiring managers want to see how you handle the unexpected; this gives them greater insight as to how you’d perform as a sales representative.
Technically, there is no right or wrong answer for most trick questions. But there are a few important factors to consider — the position you’re applying for, in example. An entry-level candidate wouldn’t be expected to answer at the same level as someone who’s had years of experience in multiple sale representative jobs.
You’ll want to be sure you answer questions in consideration of your own abilities and the company’s culture. But most importantly, make sure you’re honest, have concrete examples and convey measurable results.
Possible “trick” questions and the best way to answer
Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: Keep answers under two minutes, and stick to relevant topics such as education, career highlights, and a recent work-related event.
Q: What is your biggest weakness?
A: Choose a weakness that you’ve worked to overcome and explain the steps you’ve taken.
Q: How has your education prepared you for your career?
A: Focus on situations where you’ve been able to apply knowledge and skills acquired through your studies.
Q: Why should I hire you?
A: Review the job requirements and give concrete examples from past experiences that illustrate your qualifications.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: Be careful not to sound too eager to climb the corporate ladder here. While companies want employees with ambition, they also want to hire someone who will be happy in their newly acquired role for at least the short term. And be sure your answer relates to the hiring company, not leaving it before 5 years is up!