Interview Questions

The following questions are taken from the Caliper Hiring Manual, published by Caliper Assessments, Inc. They are intended as guides to assessing the personal attributes and skills of job candidates. Identify the best questions for your interview situation and write them down on the Candidate Evaluation Form.

Sales


Persuasiveness

  • When you first started selling, how did you establish your own style?
  • What was the most difficult presentation you ever had to make?
  • Tell me about the best presentation you ever made?
  • What kinds of prospects or clients can make you feel uncomfortable?
  • When a prospect initially expresses an interest in a product, but is reluctant to make a purchasing decision, what course of action do you follow?
  • What is the best way to deal with a customer who has a concern about pricing or terms?
  • What is the customer concern or objection that tends to frustrate you the most?
  • What was the toughest group of employees you ever had to work with? How did you handle their opposing points of view and demands?
  • Tell me about a time you negotiated a real "win-win" situation.
  • Tell me about how you develop ongoing working partnerships with customers.
  • In negotiations, under what conditions are compromises almost never appropriate?
  • What is your closing ratio?
  • Where did you rank relative to the other salespeople in your last job?
  • Tell me about an instance when you closed a sale that no one else was able to make.
  • Tell me about a sale that you just could not close.

Interpersonal

  • What is the most challenging aspect of entering a new social situation or work group?
  • How do people generally have to approach you in order to develop a good relationship?
  • In a new work environment, what has generally been your style of developing relationships with colleagues?
  • What is the best method of developing new relationships with colleagues?
  • What is the best method of developing new relationships with customers?
  • Tell me about a situation in which the product or service the client eventually bought was different from what you initially intended to sell. How did you handle it?
  • What was the most difficult customer objection you ever had to overcome in order to make a sale?
  • How does listening play an important part in the persuasive process?
  • Who are the most difficult people to listen to? Why?
  • How does compromise play a part in getting a group of people to cooperate?
  • When completing a work assignment, when does cooperating with others get in the way?
  • What is the most effective way for a manager to get a group of people to cooperate?
  • Give me an example of a large project you worked on in which your participation required you to adjust your goals to meet the overall goal of the group.

Conscientiousness and personal organization

  • Describe a sale in which the final outcome differed from the initial goal. Tell how you might have handled this differently if you had it to do all over again.
  • Provide an example of a complex sale which you were involved in planning. What were the steps taken? What were the obstacles? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about your long-term career and goal strategy.
  • Once a goal has been established, what are the steps that must be taken to ensure the successful completion of that goal?
  • What are the most difficult elements of managing a schedule, and how do you overcome them?
  • How do you cope with extended periods of time on the road?
  • How do you manage interruptions when you are working on an important project? Give an example of when you were successful. Give an example of when it was impossible to stick to the task.
  • Using your most recent job experience, how do you set priorities? How often do you review them? Under what conditions must priorities change?
  • Tell me about the most difficult territory you ever had. Why was it difficult? How did you build new business?
  • Tell me about a few accounts that were particularly hard to get. What was the key to your success?
  • What sort of prospects make the best leads? How do you go about developing them?
  • What is the best strategy for prospecting and developing leads in a territory that is already established?
  • What is your personal system for making sure that opportunities are appropriately followed up on? What are the barriers that interfere with your using that system?
  • At what point in the sales process is it time to give up and move on? And under what conditions would you never give up?
  • How do you make sure that a group sales effort is completed in a timely, quality way?
  • Tell me about a particularly difficult sales effort you brought to a successful completion. Specifically, how did you organize the effort and what were some of the barriers you had to overcome in order to get it done?

Problem solving and decision making

  • What are some of the important decisions you were called upon to make?
  • What are the most difficult issues a business like ours must face in today's economy?
  • What are the most significant issues that affect productivity?
  • Tell me about a particularly difficult or unusual problem you encountered in your current or last position?
  • When faced with a difficult problem, how do you sort out the important issues?
  • In what way is your approach to analyzing problems different from that of other people with whom you have worked?
  • If profits in our company were low, how would you go about defining the causes?
  • How would you go about improving worker productivity?
  • Given two good solutions to a difficult problem, how would you go about deciding on a course of action?
  • Tell me about a recent experience in which your point of view differed from others.
  • What process do you go through when evaluating alternatives?
  • What are your short-term and long-term goals regarding your professional career development?
  • Describe a situation in which a complex set of issues resulted in your arriving at a new goal.
  • How did your best boss manage you through the process of goal setting?
  • How did your worst boss manage you through goal setting?
  • Once a strategy has been set, what are the steps that must be taken in order to implement action toward that goal? Use an example from your past.
  • Tell me about a situation in which a quick action on your part made a positive difference.
  • When is gaining consensus not an appropriate methodology in taking a course of action? Can you give me an example?
  • Can you give me an example of when not taking action proved to be the right thing to do?

Customer Service


Interpersonal

  • What is the most challenging aspect of entering a new social situation or work group?
  • How do people generally have to approach you in order to develop a good relationship?
  • In a new work environment, what has generally been your style of developing relationships with colleagues?
  • What is the best method of developing new relationships with customers?
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with an idea and were persuaded to another point of view. Who convinced you?
  • Who are the most difficult people to listen to? Why?
  • How does listening play an important part in the persuasive process?
  • What are the most difficult customer objections to overcome? What do you do in these situations?
  • How does compromise play a part in getting a group of people to cooperate?
  • When completing a work assignment, when does cooperating with others get in the way?
  • What is the role of a manger in getting a group of people to cooperate?
  • Give me an example of a large project you worked on in which your participation required you to adjust your goals to meet the overall goal of the group.
  • Who was the toughest customer you ever had to work with? How did you handle the situation?
  • Tell me about a time you negotiated a real "win-win" situation.
  • Tell me how you develop ongoing working partnerships with customers.
  • In negotiations, under what conditions are compromises almost never appropriate?
  • How do you handle an irate customer?
  • What are the key indicators that a customer is not satisfied? What course of action should be taken in such circumstances?
  • Can you give me an example of a customer who expanded the amount of business done with your company after you helped?
  • How should the phrase "The Customer is Always Right" be interpreted from a customer-servicing perspective?

Problem solving and decision making

  • What are some of the important decisions you are called upon to make?
  • What are the most difficult issues a business like ours must face in today's economy?
  • What are the most significant issues that affect productivity?
  • Tell me about a particularly difficult or unusual problem you encountered in your current or last position.
  • When faced with a difficult problem, how do you sort out the important issues?
  • In what way is your approach to analyzing problems different from that of other people with whom you have worked?
  • If you were getting a lot of customer complaints about a similar concern, what would you do?
  • How would you go about helping a customer who was very upset?
  • Given two good solutions to a difficult problem, how would you go about deciding on a course of action?
  • Tell me about a recent experience in which your point of view differed from others.
  • What process do you go through when evaluating alternatives?
  • Who do you use as a sounding board? Why?
  • What are your short-term and long-term goals regarding your professional career development?
  • Describe a situation in which a complex set of issues resulted in your arriving at a new goal.
  • How did your best boss manage you through the process of goal setting?
  • How did your worst boss manage you through goal setting?
  • Once a strategy has been set, what are the steps that must be taken in order to implement action toward that goal? Use an example from your past.
  • Tell me about a situation in which a quick action on your part made a positive difference.
  • When is gaining consensus not an appropriate methodology in taking a course of action? Can you give me an example?
  • Can you give me an example of when not taking action proved to be the right thing to do?

Conscientiousness and personal organization

  • Describe a project you worked on in which the final outcome differed from the initial goal which was established. Tell how you might have handled this differently if you had to do it all over again.
  • Tell me about your long-term career and goal strategy.
  • Once a goal has been established, what are the steps that must be taken to ensure the successful completion of that goal.
  • What are the most difficult elements of managing a schedule, and how do you overcome them?
  • How do you cope with balancing incoming calls and crisis management with administrative responsibilities and paperwork?
  • How do you manage interruptions when you are working on an important project? Give an example of when you were successful. Give an example of when it was impossible to stick to the task.
  • Using your most recent job experience, how do you set priorities? How often do you review them? Under what conditions must priorities change?
  • What is your personal system for making sure that opportunities are appropriately followed-up on? What are the barriers that interfere with your using that system?
  • At what point in trying to please a customer is it time to give up and move on? And under what conditions would you never give up?
  • How do you make sure that a customer's concern is addressed in a timely, quality way when many people have to work on it?
  • Tell me about a particularly difficult customer you successfully assisted. Specifically, how did you organize the effort and what were some of the barriers you had to overcome in order to get it done?