Telemarketing is, at least in my opinion, one of the toughest sales jobs out there. People are tired from receiving sales calls. Eight out of ten will simply hang up, adding the number you are calling from to their black list. The ninth prospect won’t hang up the phone, but they won’t buy anything either. They will either tell you some bad words, or they will have some perverse intentions to get something else out of the call.

If you’ve done telemarketing before, you for sure know what I am talking about… Luckily there is always also the tenth customer (or the fifteenth, twentieth, depending on what you sell), who will purchase something, or at least show a serious interest in the product. If there were no such people, job of a telemarketer won’t exist. So, if you’re still interested to interview for the job, after you’ve heard my introduction to the role, I have good news for you: Interview for a telemarketer (telesales representative) job belongs to easy interviews. Let me explain why.

First of all, the employee fluctuation is among the highest across all industries. Telemarketing firms and call centers need people, and they are almost always hiring. Simply because some people are almost always leaving the place, and they need a replacement. Secondly, the hourly wage is typically just $1 better than it is at McDonald’s (and similar places), and crowds aren’t typically fighting for such jobs, even in recession. Last but not least, all these telesales places have training program in place for new hires. They will tell you what exactly you should say on the call–word by word, and how you should react to almost any possible objection. Hence they do not expect to hire excellent salesmen and saleswomen. Let’s have a look at the questions you will face in your interview.


Why do you want to work as a Telemarketer?

Not many kids dream of working in telesales once they grow up, and you should try to be realistic in your answer. At the same time, however, try to find at least something good about the job. I can give you some hints: Job of as telemarketer isn’t physically demanding (compared to many jobs in restaurants and fast food places that will pay you the same wage). You typically work in nice and clean office environment, with a computer, headphones, etc.

You can also praise the flexibility of the job–sales people call customers at any time, so if you are still studying or have some other obligations, it won’t be a problem to arrange a fitting schedule for you. Last but not least, telemarketing is a great learning experience. You will do mostly cold calling (contacting people who have no idea who you are), which is the toughest form of selling.

If you succeed as a telemarketer, I dare to say that you will do well in more sophisticated sales jobs as well, jobs that pay big sales commissions and can make you a rich man. But it isn’t only about money. In telesales you learn more about people, and also about yourself. Can you handle repetitive rejection? Can you stay calm and courteous when the person on the other end pours bad words in your direction? These aren’t easy experiences, but once you manage to handle such situations, you’ll find it easier do deal with everyday life problems… You can refer to some of these reasons while explaining your job choice.

* May also interest you: Call Center interview – Why do you want to work in a call center? 7 sample answers.

How do you imagine a typical day in a job of a telemarketer?

It will be long and rough. And you should show realistic expectations. Forget about spending hours in the kitchenette, drinking coffee with your likeable colleagues. Sure, you’ll enjoy such moments, but only for ten or twenty minutes a day.

Ensure the hiring manager that you imagine spending your time on the call, repeating the same speech over and over, with every new prospect, eventually trying to convince some to make a purchase. That’s your ultimate goal after all.

In most telesales jobs you will simply get a long list of numbers to call to. On certain occasions, however, you will be responsible for finding your leads (in some databases, or sometimes just online). In my opinion, it isn’t a bad scenario, because it allows you to take a rest from non-stop calling. Make sure to read the job description to understand whether you’ll be responsible for finding your leads or not.


What is your availability?

As I’ve already said, one of the advantages of telesales jobs is their flexibility. Companies in the business know the best hours to call the customers, when they have the biggest chance to close some deals. Unimaginable heaps of data were gathered over the years on the subject. Nevertheless, you can sell something on any time of the day, and they won’t reject your application if you say that you can work only mornings or afternoon, or Saturdays, or whatever.

Prepare for the question in advance. Think about your week, your schedule in school, another job you have, or any other obligations. Make sure to come up with a clear schedule for the entire week. It is also important to find at least 15-20 hours in your weekly schedule, because that’s the minimum workload most places will expect from you.


How do you handle rejection?

If I should pick the most important thing you can certainly learn in any telemarketing job, I would pick dealing with rejection. Because you will hear NO at least ten times more often than YES. Some people will be angry, some will be rough. Sure, it isn’t easy to listen to such words on the phone, but it also teaches us an important lesson: Rejection is a part of life. Regardless of how well-intended our words and acts are, some people simply won’t agree with us, and won’t like us. Accepting it as a fact can make your life much easier… Anyway, back to the interview question.

I suggest you to say that you understand rejection belongs to the job, and that for each deal you close, you will have to make a certain number of phone calls. Hence you do not look at the rejection as something negative. It is simply a part of the sales process, and in a way you are even grateful for the NO, because you know it moves you one step closer to another yes.

Another good point to make is saying that you do not struggle to handle rejection, because you know that people on the other end of the line do not reject you personally. They reject your offer. And that’s the fundamental difference, at least when it comes to our feelings, and our ability to make yet another phone call… We have 7 sample answers to this question online, so if you need more help you can check them out here.


Sell me this pen

A role play is hands down the most difficult part of any sales job interview, especially if you struggle to overcome interview nerves. Before you decline your interview and run away from this dreadful task, however, let me tell you something: They do not expect a perfect sales pitch from you. They do not even expect you to sell them that pen, or any other object they pick for the role play with you.

All they hope to see is some courage, and perhaps a basic understanding of a good sales talk–asking questions, trying to identify the needs of the customer, etc. Everything else you will learn in your training, before starting the actual work on the phone. So, accept the role play, try your best, and if you aren’t sure how to start or what to say, check the special article we have online for this questions: Sell me this pen interview question. After reading it you will for sure manage to pass this test.


Imagine that a customer becomes excessively angry on the call, threatening to sue you for spamming or saying other ridiculous things. What will you do?

Telemarketing is no elaborate sales job. Sure enough, you should try to stay calm and courteous, regardless of what the customer is saying. And while many people may use invective language, you should never fall to their level, or respond with the same words.

At the same time, however, especially in cold calling, your goal isn’t to make every person happy or satisfied with the call. Your goal is to spend time on the call with customers who can actually buy something, and eventually close some deals and make money for both yourself and your employer.

The point I try to make here is that you should not waste time with people who certainly won’t buy anything. And that’s exactly what you should say when facing this interview question. If someone gets incredibly agitated or angry, you will simply hang up, and move on to another call. You can also ensure the hiring managers that you count with experiencing such incidents, and they won’t have a negative impact on your mental health. Forgetting them quickly, you will simply move on to the next call, next customer, next chance to close a deal…


Five other questions you may face in your telemarketer job interview

  • Do you have any experience with professional selling?
  • Where do you see yourself in three years from now? How long would you like to have this job?
  • Telemarketing is a routine and repetitive work. How do you plan to stay motivated?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • How will you deal with the objections of the customers, while trying to close the deal?


Final thoughts

Some of the questions may seem difficult, but once you spend some time reading my lines and preparing for each question, you won’t find them particularly difficult. What’s more, as I’ve said in the beginning, they do not expect perfect answers from you.

As long as you show at least some enthusiasm about the job, courage to call to strangers, and right attitude to some challenges of working in telemarketing (dealing with rejection and bad words, spending long hours on the phone daily), they will give you a chance… I hope you will succeed and wish you good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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