During the sales job interview process, you are given the opportunity to ask questions to the hiring sales manager. Preparing well thought out questions is very important, but equally important is to gain the information from your questions.
I have interviewed many candidates in the past and some fall victim of not allowing the person to respond. It is uncomfortable to have the awkward silence after asking questions, but be mindful of giving the person enough time to process and think of an answer.
The most common mistake I see candidates make is to ask multiple questions and because of the awkward and uncomfortable silence, the candidate fills the space with more questions, not allowing the person to respond and as a result, you do not get the information you are seeking. Practice golden silence after asking a question and allow the hiring sales manager to respond. Wait about 4-6 seconds, which might feel like a lifetime, but allow the person to talk.
As a sales manager, this usually shows me how the sales candidate will be when in the field selling to their customers. The 80/20 rule applies with asking questions during the sales interview as well. Speak 20% of the time and let the person interviewing you 80%. You can help facilitate this by having questions prepared as well as questions following your answer to confirm that you have provided the information the sales manager is looking for.
One of the worst sales interview experience I have had in the past was when the candidate talked about 80% of the time and I felt that the candidate truly didn’t understand what the job was about and didn’t extend an offer to move forward with the interview process because the candidate was not consultative enough and if this is shown during the interview, it will also be done when the person is selling.
It is a fine balance that is perfected with practice. Remember that it is a conversation and treat is like a consultative sell, where you are the product. Gather the information from the buyer (hiring sales manager) and position yourself to meet the needs. You will only know and understand the needs by asking good questions, listening to the answers, taking notes and then respond with impact by linking your skills to the hiring managers key “hiring” criteria and needs.