Each of us has experienced the following situation many times: You are working on a computer, cleaning the kitchen, or playing with your children. Suddenly your phone rings. You look at the screen and do not know the number. But you answer anyway, because you never know–maybe it’s police calling, or you won a lottery, or one of your friends changed their number…

It’s none of the three. You hear a voice of a telesales rep on the other hand. And though you do not want to be rude, you hang up immediately. With or without apology…

If you ever worked in telesales before, you know that this happens in four out of five cases. People are busy, they are tired (sometimes from work but more often from life), and the last thing they want to hear is yet another sales pitch on the phone.

Telesales is a tough job. But sometimes you do not have another option–you basically need any job. Or you belong to the 5% of population who actually enjoys this type of work, and excels on the phone, and makes more than one would expect from a telesales rep…. Let’s have a look at the questions you will face while trying to get this job in an interview.

 

Why do you want to work as a telesales representative?

Employee turnover is super-high in this field, and the last thing they want to do is hiring another candidate who will last less than a week in the job. That’s why it is important to give them a clear reason why you want to work in telesales. It’s not enough saying that you need any job…

You can say that you enjoy talking on the phone, that you believe to have a salesman (or woman) in you, and in the given moment (you are still studying, or looking for a first job, or you’ve been unemployed for a long time and to start somewhere), the job of a telesales rep looks like a good choice to you.

You can also point out a few personal qualities that make from you a decent job candidate–you are mentally resilient, have great listening skills, and can work well with different types of personalities on the phone.

 

You will hear NO many more times than yes in this job. How do you want to deal with rejection?

You have a few options for a good answer here. First one is the famous sales quote: “Every NO moves you closer to another YES.” Said in other words, any form of selling (including telesales) is a game of numbers. You know that in average, one of ten calls (an example) will result into closing a deal. But from 50 calls you make in a day it can be no. 1, 7, 14, 17, 22, but also call no. 7, 41, 46, 48, and 50.

You will keep the math on your mind, and simply keep pushing on, because you know that eventually you will close some deals.

Another option is saying that you do not take rejection personally. Customers do not reject you, after all, they reject just your offer. And that’s a big difference. So you are fine with people hanging up, or even saying some rude words to you. That’s all part of the job, and since you can keep some distance, you won’t find it hard to get over rejection.

This job is super repetitive. What would motivate you to try hard, day after day, week after week?

In many telesales jobs you will repeat the same script with every customer. Or you will have several scripts, and always follow one depending on the initial answers of the customer. There’s not much room for creativeness (at least that’s how it looks from the position of an outsider). In fact you have several options for a good answer again.

First one is saying that you prefer repetitive jobs. You aren’t the most creative guy in the town, and prefer if someone does the thinking for you–preparing the scripts, the sales pitches, etc. Once you have your routine you can simply go on, as if you were working next to an assembly line. Call after call, rejection after rejection, then a sale, and then the whole cycle repeats.

Another option is saying that in your view the job isn’t repetitive. Everything depends on the perspective of the sales rep. You may repeat the same script over and over again, but you will work with all kinds of prospects–new voices every day, people in all sorts of moods and living all sorts of lives.

And that’s exactly where you sales skills come into use–maybe a subtle difference in your tone of voice, or saying this or that in the right moment, touching something profound within the customer–their secret wish, or their hidden fear… and in a flash you have their attention and are just a step from making a sale. Repetitive job? I wouldn’t say so!

 

Choose any item in this room (pen, notepad, mobile phone, their real product) and sell it to me.

Role play is a fantastic way to see whether you have some guts, and whether you can eventually become an excellent telesales guy (you do not need to be one in the interviews, but after some training and practice you can become one).

The most important thing is to accept the role play. If you refused the exercise (citing lack of preparation or knowledge of the product as a reason), they would not hire you. Go for it and try your best. A bad performance is better than no performance in this case. Few points to remember:

  • Ask questions. If you are selling a pen, you can ask for example for what purpose they need it–writing at school, at work, signing letters, or just for image–and then start your talk from there, saying how the product matches the purpose.
  • Do not let them to turn you down easily. The hiring manager may purposely make the role play difficult for you. They will have some objections, they may even shout on you. But it’s just the test, remember… Stay calm, try to answer their objections. That’s the most you can do in this case.

 

Tell us about the most successful sale you’ve made in your life.

In an ideal case you should talk about professional selling. Maybe when you closed a big deal (or bagged an elephant, as they say in sales slang), or succeeded to convince someone after trying with them for a long time (after ten calls and several visits perhaps).

This example shows persistence, and willingness to follow up–once you smell an opportunity. And that’s an important quality for each good salesman.

If you have never worked in sales, however, you can talk about experience from your personal life. Perhaps you were selling your old car and managed to convince someone to pay you a really good price. Or you were renting a place and got a perfect tenant. You can even say that these experiences from your everyday life motivated you to give a shot to professional selling

 

What do you know about the products we sell here?

You should know something, and you should like them. At least somehow. Because it is darn hard selling something when we do not really see a value for the customer. I know many people who tried that. Most of them failed or left the job soon. And those who stayed did not really feel good about their work–they actually felt terrible…

So, check their portfolio, the products or services they are selling. Try to find some competitive advantage–maybe it’s a unique product, or they have better pricing than competitors, better quality, stronger guarantees, whatever.

You should be able to point these things out in an interview, clearly demonstrating that you did your homework, and know what you will sell on the phone–what advantage, feature, benefit…

 

Other questions you may face in your telesales representative interview

  • We have a high employee turnover here. How can we be sure that you won’t leave the place after a week?
  • What payment model do you prefer–to be paid for each hour on a call, or for each sale you make?
  • How do you feel about calling the same customer five or six times, trying to convince them of eventually making a purchase they are considering?
  • How do you approach B2B and B2C selling? How does each concept change how you approach a prospect?
  • Tell us about a time when you showed initiative at work.
  • How do you feel about having monthly sales goals, and being compensated according to your ability to meet the targets?
  • What do you consider your biggest weakness if we talk about telesales?
  • After everything we discussed here, do you have any questions?

* You can download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later, with a friend or even in front of a mirror:

list of telesales interview questions, PDF

Conclusion, next steps

For an outsider telesales interview may seem like an easy one. At the end of the day this isn’t a popular job, most companies struggle with high employee turnover, and so they will give a chance to almost everyone. But that’s not true…

Each new employee is an investment. They need to train you, supervise you, pay you at least for the first week or month, even if you do not generate any sales and leave. And it happens for them often, so the last thing they want to do is to hire another such sales rep…

That’s the reason why the questions won’t be easy (as you can see from my selection), and why they will often test you also with a role play.

Try to practice it before the start of your interview, and do not forget to learn something about the company, and the products you will sell. It can help you a lot with some of your answers. I hope you will succeed and wish you good luck!

Matthew

May also interest you:

  • Account Executive interview questions – Sometimes just a fancy name for a job of a salesman, and sometimes something more… Can you ace this interview?
  • Guide on how to overcome interview nerves – It is natural to feel nervous before the start of your interview, but it is also important to overcome your nerves once it starts. Learn how.
  • Salary negotiation tips – You may or not have a chance to negotiate a better salary in your telesales rep interview. When you get a chance, however, it’s better to know how to get the most of it.
Matthew Chulaw
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