How Top Sales Leaders Are Interviewing Sales Development Reps for 2020

Written by
Josh Jordan

With the demand for sales development talent skyrocketing, we investigated how sales managers are successfully hiring the right people for the SDR position.

With such a disparity between supply and demand, sometimes the inclination is to take just anyone.

But that mentality won’t help your sales org hit its targets — and firing reps is an expensive (and painful) process.

Need help narrowing in on the best interview candidates?

You’re in luck, because we asked 40 sales managers to share their best SDR interview questions.

The 4 Most Popular Questions

The most popular question for prospective SDRs was, “Can you walk me through a recent challenge or challenging deal?”

Managers likely use this question to determine how candidates approach tough scenarios.

It’s a good sign if the interviewee describes how they resolved the issue — or at least attempted to.

The second most popular question was: “Why this company?” Sales managers wanted to know how much research the candidate had done before the interview.

They were also interested in seeing how candidates tied their career goals into their decision to apply to this specific company.

The third and fourth most popular prompts were “What makes you successful in your current role?” and “Take me through your best sales success story.”

These both get the candidate talking about the unique characteristics that make them successful.

It’s important these traits will align with your organization’s culture and work style.

For example, if the potential SDR says they’re successful because they can build relationships with clients yet your sales process is highly transactional, they might not be the best fit.

Other common questions included:

  • “What are your hobbies outside of work/school?”
  • “Why sales?”
  • “What are your short- and long-term career goals?”
  • “Where do you see yourself in 12 months?”
  • “Pitch me on something you love.”
  • “How have you performed against others in the past?”
  • “What drives or motivates you?”
  • “Are you naturally curious?”
  • “Tell me about your life story.”
  • “What kind of manager do you prefer?”

The Intent Behind the Questions

These questions may have varied from hobbies to manager preferences, but they had one thing in common:

Every answer was designed to reveal something about the candidate.

In other words, don’t ask questions just to ask them.

Make sure the response will illuminate an important deal about the potential SDR’s motivation, skills, relevant experience, objectives, or fit.

Most sales managers we talked to were focused on the “why.”

Of course, past selling experience was important, but nearly everyone was seeking to understand what motivated their candidates.

For example, Jeremy Goodman at SimpleOrder wanted to know: “What is their goal?

This probably won’t be the last stop in their career — if they don’t have a vision, they’re already the wrong fit.”

Another tech sales manager put it this way:

“We’re looking for people who are personally motivated.”

Other interview questions included:

  • “What’s the most recent sales book you read?”
  • “Do you tend to take things personally?”
  • “Are you willing to grind — willing to make 100 phone calls in a day?”
  • “Are you comfortable saying no?”
  • “What are your top three ‘must haves’ in your next role?”
  • “Tell me about a time you failed.”
  • “What’s a better teacher: Success or failure?”
  • “How do you deal with rejection?”
  • “Tell me a story of a time you went ‘above and beyond.’”
  • “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?”
  • “Why [this industry]?”
  • “What questions do you have for me?”

If you want our step-by-step training and one-on-one mentoring to launch your own software sales career, apply here.

Josh Jordan

As Prehired's Founder & CEO, Josh Jordan is leading the mission to help 10,000 people launch 6-figure software sales careers by the end of 2024.

How? With Prehired's Science-Based Sales® process -- born from helping dozens of software companies build their sales teams...

...and then consulting with hundreds of Software Sales Managers on exactly what they wanted new hires to know...

...and then helping hundreds of regular folks break into software sales in 12 weeks, on average.

Josh created Science-Based Sales® to help nearly anyone succeed in software sales, because it creates clarity for prospects. No killer closer instincts, charisma or kissing up to decision makers needed.

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