Sales manager interview questions and example answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 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.

Before attending any interview, make sure you feel prepared and confident. There are many questions that an employer may ask in a sales manager interview to determine your interest and skill level, plus questions to assess how you handle high-pressure jobs. Knowing what to expect and how to answer them lets you display your leadership style and communication skills. In this article, we describe what a sales manager is, list common examples of sales manager interview questions and provide a few examples of answers you could give.

What is a sales manager?

Sales managers are responsible for hiring and motivating sales teams and working with them to boost sales figures and exceed the company's forecasts. Sales managers work in a range of industries, including software, health care and pharmaceuticals. Successful sales managers have a deep understanding of how a company's products and services work. They coach their teams to find leads and close deals.

Basic sales manager interview questions

Below are some general sales manager interview questions that an interviewer may ask. These are the kind of questions you can expect in any job interview as they assess your general interest and allow the interviewer to get to know you. These questions might include:

  • 'Why don't you start off by telling me a bit about yourself?'

  • 'How did you hear about the role?'

  • 'What's your educational background?'

  • 'Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years' time?'

  • 'What would you consider to be your biggest weakness?'

  • 'What achievement are you most proud of?'

  • 'What is it about our organisation that interests you?'

  • 'Why are you leaving your current role?'

  • 'In terms of your career, when were you most satisfied?'

  • 'Tell us why we should hire you?'

Related: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

Sales experience questions

These questions relate to your overall experience and background in sales. Describe your experience with sales and how it directly relates to the position you're currently applying for. Common questions include:

  • 'What do you enjoy about sales?'

  • 'What do you not enjoy about sales?'

  • 'What is your selling style?'

  • 'How do you plan to manage and schedule a team?'

  • 'What is the biggest success you've had with sales?'

  • 'What qualities would you say make a great sales manager?'

  • 'Tell me about your worst day at work. What happened and what did you learn?'

  • 'How would you motivate your team?'

  • 'What is your philosophy for closing a sale?'

  • 'How would you describe your leadership style?'

Role-specific questions

The following questions relate more closely to the role you're going to be taking on. Focus on your personal leadership style, how you handle difficult situations and your problem-solving skills. Here are some questions to prepare for:

  • 'Do you have any professional development experience?'

  • 'How has your experience with sales management been?'

  • 'Have you used data analysis before? If so, are you comfortable with it?'

  • 'What do you think makes a successful representative coaching session?'

  • 'Everyone fails to meet their sales goals at some point. Tell me about a time this happened to you and how you handled it.'

  • 'If an outsider asked you what we do at the company, what would you say?'

  • 'What inspires and motivates you?'

  • 'Why do you want this position?'

  • 'Why should we hire you?'

Related: How to answer video interview questions

Example of sales manager interview questions and answers

A good way to prepare yourself before any interview is to read some examples of good interview answers. They can help you relate the answers to your own experiences and demonstrate how to stick to the main points without losing focus. Here are some interview questions you could encounter, plus example answers:

What do you enjoy about sales?

Employers like asking this question to get an understanding of how motivated you are. They're looking to see if you enjoy leading a team and working in sales in general, as a sales job often requires a lot of motivation. A sales manager is also the person responsible for motivating a team, so seeing how enthusiastic you are about the role when you answer this question is almost like a brief audition.

Example: 'My favourite part about working in sales is helping customers. I enjoy finding the right service or item to help them with their specific requirements. As a people person, I enjoy being part of a team, working together as a unit to achieve a mutual goal. It feels great when you hit targets and see your team do well.

In my last job, we were six units short of breaking the previous month's sales record. We all decided that if we were successful and broke the record, we would have a night out together. We were all very excited and ended up exceeding the previous month's record by 10 units. Our celebratory night out was a lot of fun and I enjoyed uncovering new ways I could motivate my team to reach goals.'

How do you plan to manage and schedule a team?

The purpose of this question is to learn more about your management skills and philosophy. Consider the organisation you're applying to and their work culture when you answer this question.

Example: 'I'm quite strategic, so I would look at the priorities in terms of the days, weeks, months and years. I'd then work out what's going to be the best way to tackle each task and which ones may require more intensive work to complete. I'd also use some collaboration apps that let me track the team's schedule and any upcoming tasks so I can monitor everyone's workload.

I would then hold weekly meetings with my team. We'd look over our deadlines for the week and make sure that everyone is aware of them. During these meetings, I'd discuss what our goals and deadlines are so we can work together to prioritise tasks around the workload. It also gives me a chance to listen to suggestions that could help the team.'

Everyone fails to meet their sales goals at some point. Tell me about a time this happened to you and how you handled it?

This is a behavioural interview question. Interviewers use them to assess your behaviour in the workplace by discussing a specific event and the way you handled it. When you're giving your answer, provide examples that demonstrate your growth as a leader.

Example: 'In the last quarter at my previous job, I only needed three more sales to make my quota. While I made a lot of enquiries that day, no one wanted to purchase anything. I was frustrated so I went to my supervisor to discuss it and hear what she thought. She said that it's normal to not make sales on some days and that it's not a wasted day if you learn from it, which was helpful.

Seeing that it was bothering me, my supervisor offered to go through my phone technique with me and we talked about what may have gone wrong during the sales calls. We came up with a strategy on how to reach my goals the following day so I could meet my quota. Talking with her made me feel better and I'd like to think that, as a sales manager, my team also find me approachable. I want them to feel comfortable enough to come and talk to me when things don't go to plan.'

Related: How to write a sales manager cv (with template and example)

Why do you want this sales manager position?

This is a straightforward question that offers a wide range of answers. The recruiter wants an honest answer to understand your motivations, but they're also looking to see if you know anything about the company. This question assesses how much research you have done about the company, so take some time to look at their website and research any big developments before your interview.

Example: 'I was reading about your company and I really liked what I saw regarding your company culture and products. I'm excited about the prospect of working with you, as I particularly enjoy helping sales teams to achieve their goals and improve on their current results. I also saw a lot of great reviews for your products and would love to boost their sales.

At my last job, I headed a new sales team and got the opportunity to select my own team members. I carefully considered everyone's experiences, personalities, strengths and weaknesses and I believe this helped me build a team that gelled and functioned well together. I know that I can bring those results to your company.'

Explore more articles