Recruiting new talent is challenging, irrespective of the role you’re trying to fill, but in many ways adding to your Sales & Marketing team can present the biggest test. As well as defining the role to ensure that you and the candidate know exactly what will be expected, it’s crucial to use the interview process to build a shortlist of the very best applicants. And that interview will only be productive if you’ve identified the best questions to ask, not only to gauge the candidate’s experience and ambitions, but also to evaluate how they react under pressure.

Our top 12 questions to include in a Sales & Marketing interview are as follows:

1 What have you learned about our company to date?
This question is useful because it’ll show that the candidate has done their homework and informed themselves about the business they’re hoping to join. If you receive a vague or unsatisfactory answer, it may be time for you to look elsewhere.

2 Why do you work in Sales & Marketing?
This question helps to get to the root of why the candidate loves the Sales & Marketing arena and, especially, why your sector inspires them. It also allows you to understand how the candidate would bring their personality to bear when promoting your business and/or closing a deal.

3 Can you give me an example of a major success you’ve had?
Needless to say, the best answer to this question would be that there are too many to choose from, but realistically the example you’re given will shed light both on their achievements and on the level of success they aspire to. Drive and motivation are key to any Sales & Marketing role, so you should have high expectations when you ask this question.

4 How do you stay motivated when working remotely?
This question is clearly only relevant if you are operating a remote or hybrid model, but it can be informative to learn what drives the individual and how they self-motivate. In essence, you’ll want to know whether the candidate thrives in this new normal way of working, whether they’ve forced themselves to make it work or whether they still find it difficult to self-start and self-regulate.

5 Why are you looking for a new role?
This is a great question as it gives the candidate the freedom to show you a positive outlook and to impress on you their future ambitions. Whether the candidate focuses on what’s wrong with their current role or on how they want to grow and develop will give you a good indication of their attitude and the likelihood that they will stay and build a career.

6 Why are you interested in working for us?
This question can tease out the level of preparation and homework the candidate has done, but it also gives a clear indication of their communication skills. If the answer flows and is polished, then you’ll know that the applicant will have prepared well.

7 Can you take me through your CV?
This question will test the candidate’s ability to prioritise key information and to summarise succinctly – both important skills in any Sales & Marketing role. The key points they emphasise will also be revealing. Do they focus on highlights within their career to date or do they also value personal achievements, maybe within a sporting, live entertainment, musical or volunteering context?

8 How soon can you start?
You clearly have a role to fill, so you need to know how quickly the right candidate can be available to start, but it’s also helpful to understand how serious they are about the role, and whether they might be looking to take some time off in between.

9 When have you failed?
This question can be something of a curve ball but can nevertheless yield very revealing answers. As an employer, you’ll most likely be looking to appoint a Sales & Marketing professional who is dynamic, innovative and ambitious to take your business forward. But there’s also an argument for finding someone who is humble and boasts a level of self-awareness. Honesty and transparency in the answer to this question can reassure you that you’re not sitting opposite the perfect candidate for whom nothing has ever gone wrong.

10 Who was your best manager so far, and why?
This question is useful because it allows the candidate to showcase the qualities in the manager to which they responded well and which helped to bring the best out of them. Whether it’s that they gave the candidate freedom to grow, handed them more responsibility, backed their instincts or listened and understood when things went less well, the answer will be enlightening.

11 What technology are you using to support your Sales & Marketing activities?
This question has two aspects. Firstly, you’ll want to be confident that the candidate is comfortable using the vast array of technology that’s available for Sales & Marketing professionals nowadays. And secondly, you may find that the candidate has researched and uncovered new technology that could benefit your organisation as a whole.

12 Why should we offer you the job?
This question is a great way to wrap things up because you’ll already have formed a good idea as to whether this candidate is one for the shortlist, and now you can allow them to rubberstamp your inclination. In addition, it gives the candidate the opportunity to demonstrate that they’ve been listening to you and that they’ve picked up on the most important aspects of the role and the values that you hold dear.

As well as the questions above, you may also consider asking the following:

• What sort of management style do you enjoy most?
• Tell me about your sales process and the sort of clients you’ve engaged with
• What was your average order value and how long was the typical sales cycle?
• What sort of targets were you working to and how did you perform against them?

For Rosa dos Santos, owner of Exact Sourcing, interviewing Sales & Marketing candidates requires a combination of subtlety and direct questioning. ‘The chances are that any candidate who’s applying for a Sales & Marketing role will come out with all guns blazing, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the best applicant or the one that’s right for your company,’ says Rosa. ‘As a result, we believe that it’s beneficial to throw some unexpected questions into the mix to see how the candidate can think on their feet and answer concisely. In any interview it’s important to dig beneath the surface and ensure that the candidate genuinely has the skills, experience and temperament not only to do the job but also to fit in with your company culture.’

Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket, and we also serve Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Royston and Sawston. If you’re looking to add to your team, please contact us for an initial conversation.