36 Sales Engineer Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 May 2022

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 engineers are business-to-business salespeople who specialise in selling scientifically and technically advanced products and services. While hiring them, companies may assess their technical knowledge, product knowledge, sales skills, communication skills and interpersonal skills. If you're preparing for a sales engineer interview, build your confidence by practising potential answers to questions around these topics. In this article, we examine some general and specific sales engineer interview questions and discuss a few questions with sample answers.

10 general sales engineer interview questions

A hiring manager may use your resume as a reference and begin the interview with general sales engineer interview questions. Answer briefly in two or three sentences. Answer only with facts, as the interviewers may use your replies as a basis for advanced and in-depth questions. Some commonly asked general sales interview questions are:

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and your interests.

  2. What interested you in applying for a position at our company?

  3. Are you familiar with our mission and values?

  4. How do you handle conflict in the workplace?

  5. What are your career goals?

  6. Talk to us about your strengths and weaknesses.

  7. Do you have any references we can contact?

  8. How might your former colleagues describe you?

  9. What is something you have learned you dislike in the workplace?

  10. Do you have any questions about the position or our company?

Related: What Does a Sales Engineer Do? (Plus How to Become One)

10 questions about experience and background

A sales engineer constantly interacts with product managers, engineers and individuals from the client side. They work with sales managers and department heads to prepare sales pitches and answer client questions. An interviewer may ask questions that assess a candidate's skills on advanced sales techniques and strategies. Use information from your resume and job description to make a positive impression. Here are some questions that an interviewer may ask:

  1. Can you elaborate on your educational background?

  2. Have you worked professionally in a sales engineer role?

  3. Give us an idea about your previous employers.

  4. What are some specific achievements in your sales career?

  5. What type of work environment do you thrive in?

  6. Have you ever engaged in professional training related to sales engineering?

  7. Tell us about a project you worked on in collaboration with other teams?

  8. What sales engineering skills do you have and use regularly?

  9. How can you apply these skills in a sales engineer position?

  10. Share with us how one of your previous experiences helped you learn a new skill.

Related: Sharing Your Educational Background on Your Resume and in Interviews

10 in-depth interview questions

A hiring manager may test a sales engineer's capabilities by asking situational and operational questions. These questions can test a candidate's problem-solving and behavioural skills crucial for the role. Here are some in-depth interview questions:

  1. How would you highlight the benefits of our company's product in comparison to other market competitors?

  2. How do you explain complex industry terms to non-technical customers?

  3. Who, according to you, are our target customers?

  4. What would you highlight in your sales pitch?

  5. How many professional experiences have you had as a sales engineer?

  6. What types of sales engineer technologies are you proficient in?

  7. Do you thrive in independent or collaborative work environments?

  8. What information do you think is important to know about a current or potential customer before presenting a demo?

  9. Where do you find information about sales engineering trends or emerging research?

  10. How would you handle conflict with a customer or colleague?

6 common interview questions with sample answers

Here are some interview questions with sample answers you can reference as you prepare for your interview:

1. Explain some sales engineer duties based on your previous experiences.

Organisations may look for transferable skills from a candidate's previous experiences. It helps them save time that they invest in training a new employee. Understand the job description and explain some primary duties that may be relevant to the company.

Example: "In my previous role, I was responsible for the end-to-end sales process. I have experience in making sales calls, preparing customised presentations, conducting demonstrations, taking feedback from potential customers and working with our product team to make appropriate product improvements. I was responsible for working with cross-functional teams from both our side and the client-side to facilitate a sales deal closure."

2. How do you make sales presentations interesting and informative?

Persuasion and effective communication are indispensable skills for a sales engineer. Their sales pitch can determine if a potential client proceeds to the next stage of product demonstration. Your reply to this question can help an interviewer assess your confidence level, communication skills, presence of mind and ability to be innovative. Include examples of presentation skills and the tools you use.

Example: "I prepare my presentation to include key elements about the company, with more focus on the product. My experience helps me gauge the segments that could be complex for a non-technical audience. I pause, explain and encourage them to ask questions, and proceed only if they are clear about a specific product feature. I consistently maintain eye contact, appropriate body language and posture throughout the presentation. I only use formal fonts and colours and prefer simple transitions like fade, push, cut and cover. I use the best technology and always test run my presentations before taking the stage."

Related: Top 15 Presentation Skills and How To Improve Them

3. How do you prepare for product demonstrations?

A sales engineer is responsible for presentations and product demonstrations. Product knowledge is crucial for a product demonstration. Some hiring managers may even request a mock demonstration to judge a candidate's product knowledge and ability to convey complex technical concepts to a non-technical audience.
Example: "As a first step, I understand my client's background and analyse how the product can be useful for them. I talk to my product team to see if there are ways to customise the product. Based on these inputs, I customise my demo by creating hypothetical scenarios to explain how the product can help them. I also call upon audience members as volunteers to use or operate the product."

4. Tell us about a challenging sales project you worked on and how you overcame the challenge.

Interviewers ask this question to understand your ability to find solutions to challenges that may arise. You may discuss a challenging sales project you previously worked on and how you overcame the challenge. Share an anecdotal reference from one of your previous experiences when answering.

Example: "In one of my previous sales engineer positions, our team worked on a market research project to identify leads. While trying to learn more about potential customers, we were unable to find some key details like customer goals. To solve this problem, we sent out a survey to our clients to gather information about their goals. This helped us identify sales leads for customers who might share similar goals."

5. Explain your understanding of the sales cycle.

Interviewers may ask this to a candidate with a few years of experience. It takes time for anyone to take responsibility for the end-to-end sales cycle. Explain the sales cycle and give details about your experiences handling specific parts of the sales cycle. You can also highlight your target or revenue achievements.

Example: "My understanding of the sales cycle is that there are seven stages that build upon each other. The stages include:

  • prospecting for leads

  • contacting leads

  • qualifying leads

  • nurturing leads

  • presenting the product

  • overcoming challenges

  • closing the sale

From my first job until now, I have experience working in every stage, starting from lead generation to deal closure. I believe I am ready to manage an end-to-end sales cycle independently."

6. How would you resolve a conflict of interest within a team of sales engineers?

Sales engineering teams usually work under tight deadlines and address hypercompetitive areas. An interviewer may be keen to understand your ability to resolve conflicts and handle teams of professionals. Answer in detail, explaining the tactics you follow to resolve conflicts.

Example: "Salespeople tend to believe that every conflict ends in a resolution. I use one of the five golden rules of conflict management: collaborating, avoiding, compromising, accommodating and competing. I avoid confrontation to prevent a drop in morale. If there is a conflict of ideas on sales strategy, I may insist on brainstorming sessions or mock sales pitches to see if a team member's idea can work or not.
If a team member points out a flaw or a drawback in my approach, I refrain from being defensive and listen to them. I fully understand that the team is bigger than the individual. If I lose a promising client, I take responsibility and listen to criticism or suggestions about how I could have performed better. I document the process and add it to our training manuals for others to learn."

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