Sky is the limit for an excellent salesman. At least if they sell new cars and get decent commission from each single sale. The car dealers I know typically spend 60+ hours a week in work, but they earn pretty good money for doing so. And they love their job.
However, success in this profession (and job interview) isn’t only about your sales skills, or about your knowledge of different car models. It’s also about an ability to uncover the needs of the customer, to make the right connection with them, to follow up, and follow up again, until you finally close the deal.
Let’s have a look at questions they will ask you in your interview, while trying to understand whether you have realistic expectations about the job, and whether you won’t quit after a month, or end up on the losing street.
Can you tell us something about yourself?
Your first sales pitch starts right here. If you can’t get the interest of your interviewers within three minutes, you won’t make it as a car dealer. Try to sell them your skills, passion, persistence, and motivation.
You can talk about your love for professional selling, about successful deals you close before (they don’t have to relate to cars), about your passion for cars (and deep knowledge of the brands and models they offer in their store).
You can also mention any sales related training, books, and seminars you attended or read, or about anything else that has helped you to get ready for the job. Remember, the most important thing is to show some positive energy, right from the start of your interview.
Customers do not buy from boring salesmen. And store managers do not hire such salesmen…
Why do you want to work as a car dealer?
Here you have a few options for a good answer. If you had a similar job in the past (selling anything car related), you can say that you’d love to continue working in the field, benefiting from your existing knowledge and experience.
Another idea is emphasizing your passion for cars (and everything that relates to them), and that you believe you will enjoy your new job. You can also add that you trust in your excellent sales and communication skills, and believe you have a potential to become an excellent car salesman in the near future.
Look at this car right here (they show you one of the basic models). Imagine that I am a customer looking at it. Try to sell it to me.
Nothing tells the interviewers more about your sales skills than a practical role play. They may ask you to sell them your mobile phone, a simple notepad, or one of the cars exhibited in the shop.
Now, you should in no way start like this: “Hello sir, can I help you?” Because if you do, they will immediately answer that they are just looking around, and the whole sales talk will end before it actually started.
Try something different. For example you can try this: “Nice car, isn’t it? Did you know that it actually fared very well in the crash tests, and that it now comes with built-in WiFi and 5 years guarantee?”
This way, you are actually starting a conversation. They may be positively surprised about the news, or they may say that they aren’t interested in build-in WiFi… Even in that case, you can elaborate on it, asking them what they are looking for then, in a perfect car…
Basically your goal is to extract as much information as possible, and then try to match it with the features of a particular car model (or with another one they have in the store).
Don’t forget to keep an eye contact and maintain a positive body language. Once you are enthusiastic about a particular car, the chances are decent that they will also get enthusiastic…
Remember, hiring managers do not expect to hear a flawless sales talk from you. But they want to see that you have guts, and understand the basics of selling. That’s enough for them to let you pass this test. You will learn the rest in the training.
How do you imagine a typical day in our store, while selling cars?
The actual sales process has many steps, and it is pretty complicated. Selling a car isn’t as easy as it seems in the movies.
In a movie a prospect comes to the store with their family (or girlfriend), checks a few cars, you impress them and make them pumped for a certain model, and they pay in cash and drive home in a new vehicle. Nice image, nice short scene for the film makers. But it rarely works like this in real life.
Most people will just come to have a look, or a test drive. Nearly nobody purchases a car during their first visit. As a good car salesman you have to maintain your network of connections, and send actual offers to people who might be interested in certain cars you currently have in the shop (both new and used).
You have to work with the customer, from the first call until the last meeting, when they finally sign a contract and drive home in the new car (which you sold them). Ensure the interviewers of your realistic expectations. Tell them that you expect to spend a lot of time on the phone, or writing emails, or preparing documents. You are aware of the administrative part of the work, and you see it as something that belongs to the job.
One more important thing is to show proactive approach to work. That’s exactly sending offers to your contacts and prospects, staying in touch, and actively seeking opportunities to close new deals, or to get new referrals.
How do you handle rejection?
A cloudy week, rain keeps falling. You are sitting in the office. Customers are not coming, nobody is answering your phone calls or replying your emails. Stock market keeps falling, and it seems that nobody wants a new car. Or a used one… You certainly won’t make your target sales volume for the quarter. Or will you?
Low days or even weeks belong to life of every salesman. Ensure your interviewers that a series of rejection won’t upset you. You will keep pushing, doing your work as good as you can, since you know that each NO you hear from a customer moves you one step closer to a coveted YES. And that YES will always eventually come.
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Tell us about your most successful sales experience.
Try to tell them a story, something they will remember. For example, a story how you turned a difficult prospect into a repeating customer, or how someone came to get the most basic model of the car and you eventually convinced them to get the most expensive one.
You do not need experience with professional selling to come up with a good answer. Perhaps you just sold a great idea to your child (or friend), or convinced someone to do something crazy, something they’d never do without your intervention.
Think about it for a while. We are selling something all our lives–our skills in an interview, our ideas and opinions to our peers and loved ones, our knowledge (or art least courage) to our teachers, a dream to our future girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.
Use your creativity and find a successful sales experience. I am sure you have many of them, maybe you just can’t recall them right now.
What are your salary expectations?
The key is to say that you prefer to be paid on commission basis (plus a basic fixed salary, to help you keep your head above water during low season). Best salesmen (or people who aspire for a great career in sales) always prefer sales commissions to fixed salary–because they will earn more money with commission payment model.
Ensure the interviewers that you do not want to be paid for sitting in your comfy office. You plan to sell a lot of cars, and be properly compensated for your efforts.
Important note: Car salesmen can earn anything from 15% to 30% on gross profit, depending on the employer and whether they sell new or used cars. You can ask your interviewer about the payment structure, if they do not advertise this information publicly.
What is your knowledge of XY brand of car, or XYZ model?
You should do your research before interviewing for this job. Check the car models they sell, how these models fare when compared to competition (price-wise, safety-wise, etc), the key features and benefits each model offers to the drivers.
Knowing a lot about the cars they sell (and perhaps also about the store), will help you to connect with the interviewers, and to answer any questions related to particular cars or car features. It is not the most important part of the puzzle, but it can definitely help you stand out.
Other questions you may face in your car salesman interview
- What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?
- Imagine that a customer takes a car for a test drive and crashes it. What would you do?
- What do you do to work on your sales skills?
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
- Do you have any experience with filling contracts, insurance forms, or similar documents?
- On a scale from one to ten, how would you rate the importance of following-up in this business?
- Why should we hire you, and not one of the many other candidates who try to get this job?
- Describe a situation when you used persuasion to convince someone.
- Sell me this pen.
- Do you have any questions?
Final thoughts, premium interview answers
Job interview for a car salesman job belongs to relatively difficult interviews. You will often have to deal with a role play (trying to sell a car, or something else, such as a pen, to your interviewers), tough behavioral questions, and also with many other applicants who try to beat you in the interviews and secure the job.
Your success (or failure) is not a question of luck, however. Every detail counts. Think about a good answer to each questions from this article, and try to prepare for it. And if you need some extra help, or experience anxiety before the start of your interview, have a look at our Interview Success Package. It can be the one part of the puzzle you are missing on your way to professional success…
Thank you for reading, I wish you best of luck in your interview!
* You can also download the questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
May also interest you:
- How to overcome interview nerves – Good salesman is confident. Do not let your nerves to kill your chances in this interview.
- Sales interview questions – Learn what matters in most interviews for sales jobs, and how you can deal with the challenges.