How To Interview a Sales Manager (With Example Questions)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sales managers are key for many companies that sell products or services to a customer or client base. These professionals may sell the company's offerings, but an even larger part of their responsibilities is to hire and train sales associates so the team can meet shared objectives. It's important to hire an individual who can perform this work well with the help of a formal interview structure.

In this article, we discuss how to interview a sales manager, provide 30 questions you can ask candidates for this position, review what someone in this role does and the skills they may have and share an example sales manager job description.

Related: How To Be a Good Interviewer in Six Steps (With Helpful Tips)

How to interview a sales manager

Follow these steps to conduct an effective interview:

1. Review the job description

It's important to begin the interview process by preparing. One way to do this is by reading the job description again, even if you're the one who wrote it. This simple act can serve to remind you of the qualities you're looking for in a new hire, so you can remain focused during the interview. Consider printing the job description and keeping it next to you during the interview for reference.

2. Set up a panel interview

A panel interview is when a group of individuals interview a candidate together. Usually, those who are part of the panel are employees who'll be working closely with the new hire when they begin in their position. These types of interviews are important so you can later gather feedback from everyone who interviewed the candidate. Panel interviewers may also be able to ask the candidates valuable questions that you didn't think were necessary.

Read more: What Is a Panel Interview? (With Tips and Example Questions)

3. Introduce yourself

Just as it's important for each interviewee to introduce themselves before the interview begins, it's also crucial that you give a potential new hire your full name and role at the organisation. This can help you both get acquainted with one another. You may also find that it helps both parties feel more comfortable during the meeting.

4. Ask the candidate questions related to the role

To determine the best candidate for the position, ask relevant questions to each of them. For example, you may ask more about their data reporting, how they motivate team members or what their favourite part of working in sales is. The goal of these questions is to learn more about the candidate. This way, you can determine whether they could be a good fit for your team.

5. Present yourself well

You may be conducting an interview to decide which candidate you want to hire, but candidates may also be evaluating if your organisation is the best place for them to continue to build their career in sales. Therefore, it's important to present yourself well during the interview by maintaining eye contact, staying engaged in the conversation and asking clarifying questions to understand the candidate's answers. Anticipate questions your candidates may have about the company or specific role they're applying for so you can prepare your responses.

30 questions to ask a sales manager candidate

Here are 30 questions you can ask a potential new hire to determine if they are the best fit for the open management position:

  1. Why do you want to work for our organisation?

  2. How many years of managerial experience do you have?

  3. What's your leadership style?

  4. How do you set sales goals for members of your team?

  5. What's your method for motivating employees and improving team morale?

  6. What would you do if a sales representative was struggling with meeting their goals?

  7. In your own words, define what customer service is.

  8. How comfortable do you feel managing a team of sales associates with various levels of experience?

  9. Have you ever had to dismiss an employee from work? Why and how did you do it?

  10. How do you prepare for important sales presentations for clients, customers or company stakeholders?

  11. What do you think your favourite part of being a sales manager would be?

  12. What's your preferred method for tracking your team's progress?

  13. Tell us about a time when you overcame a customer's hesitation in purchasing a product.

  14. What qualities do you have that you believe would make you a strong sales manager?

  15. Why do you think recognition in a sales setting is important? How would you recognise your team for a job well done?

  16. What are your long-term career goals?

  17. What do you believe are the best characteristics of an ideal candidate for this position?

  18. Why do you think a sales manager is crucial for any retail business?

  19. Which industries have you worked in before?

  20. Are you more creative or analytical? How do you use both in your sales approach and in mentoring new sales associates?

  21. Which forecasting and analysis tools are you most familiar with?

  22. How do you prioritise your work while remaining available to your team?

  23. How would you get a new hire on your team comfortable with our sales process?

  24. Why do you think customers choose to buy a product or service?

  25. What's your favourite thing about the sales process? What's your least favourite thing?

  26. When do you feel most inspired?

  27. What is your greatest strength that you plan on bringing to this new position if we were to hire you?

  28. Why are you leaving your current place of employment?

  29. How did you start your career in sales?

  30. How would your colleagues and managers describe you?

Related: 10 Questions To Ask an Interviewee (With Example Answers)

What does a sales manager do?

Even though you're hiring for this role, it can be helpful to re-familiarise yourself with what those in this position do on a daily basis. A sales manager is responsible for building and leading a team of strong sales associates who can assist them in reaching sales goals. In addition to improving sales, sales managers also use their leadership skills to strengthen and encourage their team. Here are some responsibilities you may task a new sales manager with:

  • Recruiting, hiring and training sales team members

  • Monitoring sales objectives and evaluating progress towards company goals

  • Evaluating customer satisfaction ratings and developing plans to improve them

  • Planning, creating and delivering sales reports to upper management

  • Mentoring and coaching team members to improve sales skills

Sales manager skills

While the underlying goal of this role is to increase sales, sales managers are also responsible for strengthening their team, projecting future sales goals and overcoming team challenges. When you're interviewing candidates for a sales manager position, consider assessing them for these skills:

Communication

Sales managers work with both team members and customers. To be successful in this role, they often require strong people skills. Sales managers may use their communication skills to write emails to clients or convince customers to purchase a product or service. You can understand more about your candidate's ability to communicate by reviewing their email correspondence and evaluating how adequately they are able to explain more about their experience and qualifications for the role.

Customer service

Professionals in this role are responsible for managing problems for customers and team members and working on improving the customer experience. Strong customer service skills enable them to understand concerns, mediate conflict and close sales. You can properly evaluate the candidate's ability to provide superior customer service by asking them some situational questions.

Leadership

One of the major responsibilities of a sales manager is to develop and lead their sales team. Leadership and teamwork skills can help those in this position keep their team motivated and successful. To find more about their leadership skills, you can ask more about the teams they've managed before and evaluate their response.

Related: 18 Good Leadership Qualities for Career Success

Problem-solving

Sales managers typically use problem-solving skills to identify team and sales challenges. They may need to use problem-solving skills to help customers or discover resolutions for issues that are currently affecting sales goals. You may be able to understand more about a candidate's ability to problem solve by asking them situational questions where you ask them what they would do in a particular circumstance.

Sales manager job description example

Here is an example of a sales manager job description you can use when creating your own and interviewing candidates:

We're looking for a qualified sales manager to lead our new sales team. The sales manager will hire, train and guide new team members to reach departmental sales goals. The ideal candidate will have previous experience in the wholesale industry and a bachelor's degree in a related field. Experience in budgeting and reporting is required. Prior management experience is also recommended.

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