Sales Manager Interview Questions, Answers and Tips

sales manager interview tips
Created by Cake

A sales manager is responsible for motivating their sales team to meet targets, objectives and cultivating new ways to improve sales of a business or department.

Sales Managers report to their sales director or executive who lead recruitment, drive expansion of the business, and set annual goals. As these roles involve responsibilities which have different impacts on business, sales manager interview questions will differ from sales representative ones.

Below we have listed our best sales manager interview tips and questions to help you prepare:

Sales Manager Interview Tips

Interview questions for a sales manager will mainly focus on your experience, skills and management style. Prepare your answers using our tips below, in order to stand out when interviewing for sales manager:

✨ Be prepared to talk about your sales experience

As a sales manager is a step up from a sales representative, experience is the most likely question to be asked to a sales manager applicant. Brainstorm and compile your most relevant sales experiences to highlight your suitability for the role. 

Instead of just recounting your previous roles and responsibilities in your sales manager interview, try to include the skills you have gained as well. This will bolster your experience and give you an opportunity to showcase your transferable skills in your sales manager interview. 

​✨​ Use the STAR method

The STAR method is a well-known method for answering open-ended questions, and can help you ace your sales manager interview. Not only does it provide a well-detailed answer, but it also crams in all of the essential information the interviewer is really asking for. 

To use the STAR method to answer sales manager interview questions, follow these steps:

  • Situationbriefly provide context for the situation at work you will be using as an example. Keep it to the point but with enough information so that the interviewer can follow along easily. 
    
  • Task – next explain the task you handled during this situation. To highlight the magnitude of the task, use figures and percentages: 
    “I was given the task of implementing a 12-week promotional campaign of 35 emails to an audience of 30,000 newsletter subscribers.” 
    
  • Action – explain exactly what you implemented in order to work towards or achieve the goal. Make sure you use an active voice and speak in the first person, such as “I delegated tasks to the team”. This is a very subtle way to highlight your impact and competence. 
    
  • Resultfinally provide the result of your actions. Make sure you share an example of success, and provide context to the interviewer to demonstrate its impact – such as “we exceeded the goal by 20%” or “expanded the reach of our product to four new locations”

Recruiters are looking for experience in handling professional interactions with success, which is an essential criterion for hiring a sales manager. 

Most Interview questions can be answered with the STAR technique; to prepare for your sales manager interview, brainstorm a couple of situations which can apply to common interview questions (we will go through interview questions for sales managers later!).

✨ Have well-rounded responses

Whilst sales experience will be the feature of your sales manager interview, do not be afraid to include other relevant experiences or skills in your answer. When interviewing for a sales manager, recruiters want to see a well-rounded personality who can liaise with their team and clients with ease. 

Likewise, as there are many components to being a sales manager, interview questions can vary greatly in detail. Have confidence in your skills and previous experiences, and highlight your potential and suitability for the company by preparing well-rounded responses for your sales manager interview. 

📚 Further reading:  15 Tips on How to Answer Interview Questions Confidently

General Sales Manager Interview Questions

It's important to have well prepared responses to typical questions recruiters will ask potential sales managers. Below we have compiled some common sales manager interview questions and answers to help you prepare:

Q: How would you describe your leadership style?

No matter if you are interviewing for a sales manager or sales director, interview questions for management positions will always ask about leadership. 

Likewise, sales managers liaise with higher-level positions; interviewers want to know how you will advocate for your team. 

Sample Answer:

“My leadership style mainly involves collaboration and advocacy. I want my team to feel their manager is in the loop, and can raise questions and concerns without fear. I believe collaborating with my team allows me to understand their challenges and together we can overcome them without delay. I also want the best for my team, will advocate for the best interests of the team and our goals to directors and executives. Collaboration builds the trust which employees need with their manager and allows myself as a leader to focus on motivating and strengthening my team.”

Q: What motivates you?

Companies are looking for motivated sales managers; therefore, interview questions will ask about your internal and external motivators.

Regardless if you’re a sales manager or sales director, interview questions enquiring about your motivations are there to test if you really are passionate about the role. 

Showcase your motivation in your sales manager interview with a diverse answer which shows how you inspire yourself and your team. 

Sample Answer:

I am motivated by other passionate people. I thrive in an environment where the team dynamic is seamless and positive, as it allows me to focus on my goals. The satisfaction of meeting or exceeding a goal, or the confidence of gaining new skills encourages me to keep going to better myself. Therefore, when motivating others, I provide encouragement and assistance with positive feedback to build confidence in my team members so we can all achieve our goals.”

Q: Describe your experience with sales management

If you have prior experience as a regional, retail store or area sales manager, this interview question is straightforward.

If this is your first time interviewing for a sales manager role, you can use this opportunity to highlight your experience which is directly related to the role. 

Rather than restating your resume, emphasize your achievements and skills to the interviewer.

Make sure you read the job description carefully, as it will outline their ideal candidate for sales manager, and interview questions will relate to this. 

Sample Answer:

“My current role involves leading a team of 10 sales representatives as a regional sales manager. This role encompasses monitoring my teams’ performance in relation to sales quotas and targets set by our regional sales director. As I have over five years experience as a sales representative myself, I am well adept at understanding my team's dynamics and understanding areas for improvement. I additionally onboard new sales representatives and provide training for both new and existing staff. Our team is responsible for over 200 products, and through sales techniques I have taught my team, we have exceeded all of our quarterly targets by at least 15%.” 

Q: What is a successful sales representative training program?

Questions asked in your sales manager interview will address all aspects of the role.   

Training new and existing staff is a key component of a sales manager's duties; questions like these are an opportunity to highlight and explain your understanding of a successful sales team. 

Sample Answer:

“I think there are a few main concepts which contribute to successfully training a team of sales representatives. First, I think focusing on understanding the client is a crucial part of training. I implement this by focusing on listening skills and encouraging open conversation between sales representatives and clients to build rapport. Understanding the product is essential; if our sales representatives have confidence in the products, they can instill this in our clients. Understanding how strategies can impact targets aims the team in the right direction, allowing them to strive for greatness.”

Q: What makes a good manager?

This interview question allows you to showcase your understanding of a sales manager’s responsibility, and also tests your understanding of the company as well. 

When answering this question in your sales manager interview, include words from the job description to show your understanding of the role.

Sample Answer:

“I believe a successful sales manager will motivate, train and advocate for their team in order to achieve targets, through interacting with the team regularly to understand their challenges and help form solutions to improve current techniques. Additionally, a successful sales manager will represent and advocate their team by liaising with the sales director and executive, by highlighting ways to utilize the team's strengths to innovate new techniques to achieve targets.”

Behavioral Sales Manager Interview Questions

Differing from typical experience-related topics, behavioral questions for sales manager interviews allow recruiters to understand how you work as a professional.

Behavioral questions for sales managers will explore your reasoning and response in workplace situations. 

Recruiters place importance on your answers to behavioral interview questions; as sales managers are responsible for a team.

When preparing for the behavioral section of the sales manager interview, reflect on your reasoning towards solving challenges in a professional environment. 

Q: What data analysis tools did you use in the past and are you familiar with?

A sales manager interview will always involve discussing hard skills. List off the most relevant programs and tools and only include others if you can highlight their usefulness. 

This is one of the most common questions asked in a sales manager interview, so make sure you prepare a response which also reflects the job postings’ requirements:

Sample Answer:

“I am skilled in Salesforce and HubSpot from my previous roles. Additionally, I have advanced proficiency in Microsoft Excel, and I am capable of utilizing software such as R and Python to assist in data analysis and visualization.”

Q: What qualities did you look for when you hired past sales representatives?

When looking for a sales manager, questions like these will be asked to highlight your understanding of a successful sales representative and team. 

Many sales manager interview questions will focus on your methods to success; therefore, brainstorm the skills which you think are most valuable and use them in your answer.

Sample Answer:

“ When I hired new sales, I always looked for flexible, motivated people. Being a quick learner and team player is also important Successful sales teams are made of strong individuals who can work together to reach team goals. Great interpersonal skills and ability to adapt to changing situations are also highly valued. However I am willing to accept candidates with potential and work with them to improve these areas further.”

Q: What did you do when a sales representative missed their goals for an extended period of time?

This question tests your response to challenges as a sales manager; answers to this question detailing the responsible use of leadership will display your suitability for the role. 

When interviewing for sales manager roles, recruiters want to see how you would respond to negativity or stress. Provide a level-headed answer like this one: 

Sample Answer:

“The first thing I’d do, when I notice someone in my team has been underperforming, is to ask how they are doing and make sure they are ok outside of work. After listening to their perspective, together we would narrow down the issue, whether it is from the client side, from sales techniques or other skills and come up with a plan to move back on track to reach their goals. Potentially, I would alter goals in the short-term to test the effectiveness of our new strategy.”

Q: Tell me about a time you failed to meet your sales goals and how you handled it. 

During your interview for sales manager, questions will explore how you handle both success and failure. Use the STAR method to highlight qualities such as initiative, teamwork and critical thinking to display your resilience. 

Sample Answer:

“Our manager set a rather ambitious goal for us during the busy season last year, but we were confident that we could pull it off. However, we did not reach the target; instead, our performance was very average. Although we were disappointed, the team reflected on our strategy and listened to the advice of our sales manager. We worked together to share our strongest techniques, and came up with a more uniform strategy for the next quarter, where we exceeded our goal.”

Q: What is your greatest success as a sales representative?

This is another opportunity to use the STAR technique if you’d like. When recruiters are interviewing sales managers, questions like these test your attitude towards success.

Sample Answer:

“My greatest success as a sales representative would be receiving the “best newcomer” award in my first year. Seeing the outcomes of my hard work is a gratifying and motivating part of achieving success. Additionally, I am proud of the experiences and skills I have gained in my sales career; I consider them personal milestones which also contribute to my success.” 

Questions to ask in a Sales Manager Interview

Now we’ve gone over questions you’ll be asked in a sales manager interview, it's time to think about questions to ask in a sales manager interview. Asking the right questions in your sales manager interview can help seal the deal and get you hired.

Choose questions about the sales manager role or company objectives; see below for examples for questions to ask in your sales manager interview.

  • What qualities make your best-performing sales managers stand out?
  • What does the upward/lateral career progression look like?
  • What are the current dynamics of the sales team? 
  • Can you share a long term goal the sales executives/directors have for the team?
  • What does the onboarding process look like?

Having questions to ask for your sales manager interview will showcase your preparedness and eagerness towards the role.

Asking the above questions in your sales manager interview shows your personality and interest in the role as well as giving you valuable information about the company you are applying to. 

Asking about the sales director or sales executives in your interview questions will highlight your understanding of the sales manager position.

Make sure you adjust the phrasing to suit the position – these interview questions can also apply to business development managers, retail store managers and regional sales managers.

And these are our best sales manager interview tips, questions and answers. Preparation is key to nailing your sales manager interview – practice the STAR technique, reflect on our example questions and be ready to ace your interview. Good luck!

With Cake’s resume builder tool, resume templates and resume examples, you could showcase your best qualifications to land your dream job. Try making a resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Bronte McNamara ---

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