30+ Sales Manager Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

When you need to hire a Sales Manager for your business, you’ll want someone who is persuasive, articulate, motivated and a great negotiator. You’ll also want someone who is the right fit to lead your growing sales team. 💪

These essential Sales Manager interview questions will help you get to know your candidate better and suss out if they have the right skills, experience and attitude for your business. You’ll also get an idea of what you should be listening out for throughout the hiring process. Time to jump in!

<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">💡 Tip: A job interview is a two-way street — your candidate is also interviewing you about what it is like to work at your company. They need to feel confident in their decision to join your team. Throughout the interview process, be ready to answer candidate questions and share information that’d get them excited about accepting an offer to be your next Sales Manager.</p></div>

General Sales Manager interview questions

<h3 class="h3-small">1. Tell me about your career journey as a Sales Manager.

This may not be the most unique question to ask but it’s nonetheless a crucial one to add to your list! The goal is to hear more about your candidate, in their own words. You should find out how they began their sales career journey and what specifically they enjoy about being a manager.

Listen for: An easy-to-follow story of how they got to where they are in their career now, their passion for sales and why they made the choices they did.

<h3 class="h3-small">2. Why do you love about being a sales rep?

A good Sales Manager needs to be driven and motivated. Asking this question gets to the heart of why a Sales Manager does their job and what keeps them going, even on slow sales days.

Listen for: A response that shows genuine enthusiasm for their job and sales in general. Additionally, look for candidates who want to improve those (read: their sales team) around them.

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<h3 class="h3-small">3. What’s the most exciting thing about the prospect of working on our team?

This Sales Manager interview question helps to give you an idea if the candidate has researched your business and if they genuinely are excited about working with your team.

Listen for: A real understanding of what your company does and areas you might be struggling in as a business. Additionally, the best responses will demonstrate if the candidate is a potential values fit.

<h3 class="h3-small">4. What drew you to apply for this job?

Direct questions like this can tell you a lot about a Sales Manager. For starters, it’s an opportunity for them to talk about what they admire most about your company, which can also end up giving you interesting insight into why candidates want to work for you. Secondly, it’s an opportunity for them to sell themselves and their skills for this role.

Listen for: If they show a genuine interest in your product or whatever it is your company does.

<h3 class="h3-small">5. What are you hoping to gain from your next Sales Manager role that you lacked previously?

This question can help you learn more about your candidate’s ambitions and what they’re looking for as they make their next move. It’ll help you gauge whether their career aspirations and needs align with what you can offer as an employer. Depending on their answer, you’ll have a good idea of how they may add to your company culture.

Listen for: Answers that demonstrate leadership, good teamwork and commitment. You should also pay attention to whether or not your business and your team can provide the candidate with what they’re looking for. Otherwise, it may not be a mutual fit.

<h3 class="h3-small">6. What kind of environment do you do your best work in?

Ask this question in the interview to understand what type of environment your Sales Manager candidate might succeed in. You can then consider if this is something your company can offer them.

Listen for: An alignment in what your company can offer them and what type of work environment would make them fulfilled, happy and productive in the long run.

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<h3 class="h3-small">7. How would you describe your selling style and how has it evolved over the years?

There are lots of different selling styles. However, not all of them will fit with your company's values or product. It’s important to ask this question to hear what your candidate will really be like when they’re selling to your potential clients and leading your sales team.

Listen for: A selling style and approach that chimes with what you do or where you’d like to take your business in the future. It’s also important to see if your candidate is flexible and open to adjusting their personal style, if necessary.

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<h3 class="h3-small">8. What sales software are you most familiar with?

This question gives you a good idea of what tools your candidate uses. Additionally, it can tell you a lot about their experience and even give you insight into new tools that could help your business.

Listen for: Tried and true software that helps sales teams do their jobs more easily. Remember that there is no right or wrong answer to this question—there is a variety of software out there. What you want to listen out for are the basics: do they have experience using a sales CRM, an auto-dialer or a sales enablement platform?

<h3 class="h3-small">9. What do you think makes a successful Sales Manager?

Again, this question will give you an insight into the candidate's approach to sales management and the skills they believe they have that’ll make them a success in this role.

Listen for: Mention of strong leadership, supporting their teammates, valuing mentorship and being compassionate. They should also mention various skillsets that would help make a Sales Manager successful.

<h3 class="h3-small">10. How has your previous experience as a sales rep prepared you for this role?

Interview questions like this help you dig deeper into a candidate’s experience and more specifically, what they’ve learned from their past experience in a less senior role. You’ll learn more about the candidate and how ready they are to be a people manager.

Listen for: Evidence of growth and examples of lessons they’ve learned throughout their sales career journey.

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<h3 class="h3-small">11. What do you believe motivates reps to hit their targets?

Sales reps are motivated by a wide range of things, but generally commissions and the thrill of winning a sale are what keeps them engaged and encouraged.

Listen for: Pragmatic answers that suggest a strong understanding of human nature. They should also demonstrate that they can help nurture motivation based on their skills and experience.

<h3 class="h3-small">12. What motivates you as a Sales Manager?

There’s no beating around the bush—people come to work for money. But with that said, it’s not the only motivator for sales. You’ll want to ask this Sales Manager interview question to get a deeper sense of what drives your candidate and if you think they’d be happy in this role at your company.

Listen for: A deep passion for sales, hitting targets, motivating team members and a competitive spirit.

<h3 class="h3-small">13. What role does data play in your job as a Sales Manager?

The sales industry has become very data-driven, and with good reason. If you want a more analytical approach to your sales process and success, it needs to start with your Sales Manager.

Listen for: How the candidate uses sales metrics, which software they like and how it can boost sales performance and help meet goals. They should clearly express an appreciation for the importance data plays in making smart sales decisions. The relevance of their answer will depend on the type of business you have. For example, listen out for whether they mention conversion rate, churn rate, lead scoring and average recurring revenue to name a few.

<h3 class="h3-small">14. What’s your favorite part of sales management?

Sales Managers perform a variety of duties—they work closely with people and metrics, assign territories and manage projects. An ideal candidate should be able to express what they enjoy most in the sales management process.

Listen for: Passion and enthusiasm for sales management that would translate well for the role they’re interviewing for.

<h3 class="h3-small">15. What’s your least favorite thing about working in sales?

It’s not all sunny skies in sales! It’s important to ask this interview question to get insight into what a candidate doesn’t like about the job too.

Listen for: If their answer suggests a crucial aspect of the job that can’t be avoided. It could be a sign that this Sales Manager won’t be a great fit for the role.

<h3 class="h3-small">16. What’s your go-to data analysis tool and why?

It’s important to have a Sales Manager who not only understands the importance of making data-driven decisions but also knows which metrics are important.

Listen for: Responses that demonstrate a deep understanding of how to use data to drive sales performance and better understand it.

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Behavioral Sales Manager interview questions

<h3 class="h3-small">17. How do you go about motivating a sales rep who hasn’t been performing their best?

Motivating a team is a huge part of a Sales Manager's job. Questions like these can elicit answers that give you a ton of insight into their management style. What you ultimately want to know is, do they sound like the person who could get the most from your sales team in a compassionate way?

Listen for: How they make their team members feel valued and how they celebrate small wins. They should see the importance of goal setting and how a purposeful team mission can motivate team members. A strong Sales Manager should take time to talk to team members who may be struggling, too.

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<h3 class="h3-small">18. If you were interviewing a sales rep, what qualities would you want to see?

Hiring great reps is a huge part of a Sales Manager’s role, especially for a growing company. The right candidate should be able to describe the traits and skillset of an ideal sales rep to help grow revenue.

Listen for: Answers that demonstrate past success or an awareness of the qualities that matter for your company’s revenue generation like experience in a similar industry (B2B or B2C), determination, flexibility, persistence and customer service skills.

<h3 class="h3-small">19. What is your approach to training sales reps?

If you’re hiring a Sales Manager, it’s likely that they’ll have to help coach and train sales reps in their role.

Listen for: Evidence of a detailed, systematic approach to improving reps and preparing them for success. It’ll be helpful to understand their process as they explain how they’ve trained sales reps in the past.

<h3 class="h3-small">20. What would you do if one of your sales reps has failed to meet their sales quotas for the past three months?

Sales Managers need to be effective leaders. A massive part of leadership involves proactively dealing with issues, including how a sales rep may be underperforming. Ideally, your sales managers will have a plan for scenarios where someone is underperforming.

Listen for: How they provide support, training, mentorship, resources and more to their team member to help make sure they get back on track.

<h3 class="h3-small">21. How would you deal with different personalities on our sales team?

Sales management is about getting the most out of each salesperson, while also nurturing their career growth. However, each employee is motivated by different factors and a strong Sales Manager should be able to work with all sorts of personality types.

Listen for: How your candidate might acknowledge differences in personalities on their sales team while also finding a way to drive positive results.

<h3 class="h3-small">22. How would you describe your management style?

You’ll want to make sure your Sales Manager candidate’s management style aligns with that of your company at large. If your business is all about support and consideration, find someone whose answers match that ethos.

Listen for: Answers that align with how your business works and how your team works together (and cross-functionally).

<h3 class="h3-small">23. How do you build rapport with prospects?

Sales is very much a relationship business so it’s important to dig into how your candidate builds those key connections with internal stakeholders, customers and others.

Listen for: A willingness to listen, ask questions, research and go the extra mile in creating long-lasting relationships in your business.

<h3 class="h3-small">24. How do you deal with the natural pressure of working in sales and being a Sales Manager?

Pressure is an inevitable part of working in sales. What matters most is how your candidate deals with that pressure in a healthy, sustainable way. You’ll want to make sure they’re aware of burnout so they can steer clear of it.

Listen for: A demonstrated ability to thrive under pressure and a healthy approach to stress management. Specifically, you’ll want to hear that your candidate knows when to take breaks, and shut off at the end of the day and that they understand the importance of taking holiday time.

<h3 class="h3-small">25. What do you do when you have too much work on your plate?

Sometimes everything comes at once, especially when managing a busy sales team. The right candidate for your team should have the tools and strategies ready to deal with competing priorities without getting totally drained in the process.

Listen for: Examples that show their ability to prioritize, organize, delegate work where necessary, and manage their time wisely.

<h3 class="h3-small">26. Have you ever missed your sales goals? What did you do?

These types of questions are a good way to see how your prospective Sales Manager behaves and reacts when things go wrong. (It’s impossible for things to go right 100% of the time!)

Listen for: How the candidate has grown and improved over time. Everyone experiences failure from time to time. It’s how we deal with it in the future that’s most important.

<h3 class="h3-small">27. Have you ever needed to let a sales rep go for any reason? How did you handle the situation?

Unfortunately, not every sales rep on a sales team will be a success. Sales Managers need to make difficult decisions sometimes, but how they deal with these scenarios will tell you a lot about their style.

Listen for: The importance they put on making these decisions with compassion and respect, alongside a steely decisiveness.

<h3 class="h3-small">28. Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you dealt with it.

Everyone makes mistakes, including the brightest Sales Managers. What matters is how your candidate works to resolve those mistakes—that’s the measure of a strong candidate.

Listen for: Answers that demonstrate their integrity, accountability and an abiliy to grow and learn from the mistakes of their past.

<h3 class="h3-small">29. Describe a time when you took a logical approach to solve an issue.

Logical thinking is important in sales. This interview question is about understanding how your potential Sales Manager has solved common issues in the past, which gives you an idea of how they’d perform in the future.

Listen for: Real-world examples of solutions they’ve come up with that demonstrate an ability to coolly think through a problem to discover a solution.

<h3 class="h3-small">30. What was the best or most unexpected sales idea you came up with?

A strong Sales Manager should be capable of generating creative ideas for complex issues or roadblocks.

Listen for: Answers that demonstrate an ability to improve the workplace with novel approaches.

<h3 class="h3-small">31. What is your biggest workplace regret?

We all have things we would do differently if we had another try, particularly when it comes to something as finicky as sales work.

Listen for: Signs of introspection and self-awareness, alongside an ability to learn from mistakes. If your candidate responds to this question by saying they have no regrets, you may want to dig deeper and ask follow-up questions to find out why.

<h3 class="h3-small">32. Have you ever taken a risk that failed to pay off?

Working in sales requires people to be courageous and take smart risks, all in the face of potential rejection. Ask this interview question to learn more about the candidate’s nature and how they push themselves out of their comfort zone.

Listen for: Examples of how the candidate has taken calculated, smart risks in the past, even if they didn’t work out. Anything too risky might suggest a recklessness you don’t want at your company.

<h3 class="h3-small">33. Tell me about a time when you met an almost impossible goal.

Goal setting is an essential aspect of sales management. It requires a mix of pragmatism and ambition. Your Sales Manager should be able to connect sales team member goals to your business’s overall growth objectives.

Listen for: Signs that your candidate isn’t afraid to reach for the sky.

<h3 class="h3-small">34. Have you ever had to deal with a troublesome sales rep? If so, how did you deal with it?

People management is an important quality in a candidate, as issues are bound to arise, no matter the company!

Listen for: How your candidate demonstrated strength, good people skills and decisiveness to achieve an acceptable outcome. They should be able to provide a real-life scenario but if they can’t, ask them how they would deal with an issue with a sales rep if the hypothetical was a reality.

<h3 class="h3-small">35. How would you describe our business and what we sell to someone completely unfamiliar with the industry?

A classic sales interview question but entirely necessary to ask! You’ll want to hear how your candidate would sum up and simplify your business. Their straightforward sales pitch will be helpful in how they’ll train future sales reps on your team and how they themselves will sell to prospects.

Listen for: A strong understanding of what your company does and evidence of their skills in how they communicate complex messages.

Organize your Sales Manager interview process with Homerun

You’ve armed yourself with the essential interview questions to help you hire a skilful and motivated Sales Manager. Now it’s time to get set up with the right hiring tool.

Homerun helps you organize and streamline your interview process, creating a positive experience for candidates (and making it a piece of cake for you). With Homerun you can:

  • Keep team interview notes in one, centralized place
  • Schedule candidate interviews and invite your team to join in
  • Auto-confirm candidate interviews and much more

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Alessia Musso
About the author
Alessia Musso
Alessia is Homerun's resident Canuck and Content Writer based in London. She's been writing B2B content for small and medium-sized businesses for eight years and is passionate about helping people feel more confident (and happy!) in their jobs. When she’s not researching the ways growing teams can improve their hiring, she’s probably thinking about pasta, books, craft beer, and the importance of the Oxford comma.
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