Top 8 Ways to Sabotage Your Sales Interview

As we’ve mentioned in an earlier post – scaling your sales team is a big responsibility as a Stretch VP of Sales. Recruiting, hiring and on-boarding Managers, Account Executives, SDRs, Sales Engineers and even Sales Enablement is a full time gig – especially as a Stretch VP, since you likely don’t have many luxuries that assist others in this process.


In doing so, I often find myself in interviews that frankly have wasted my time and left me begging for more. I’m amazed at how many interviews I walk away from either, surprised, disappointed, frustrated and confused. So much potential, but even fairly impressive candidates on paper are seemingly not willing to do simple things required to set themselves apart. If they can’t sell me in the first interview, how are they going to sell our much more finicky and demanding prospects?


After talking with a few other SaaS Sales leaders going through this same struggle, we collectively came up with the top things potential candidates do (or don’t) in that first interview, which in turn sabotages themselves from moving forward in the process.


Note: For the most part- this post doesn’t really (or shouldn’t) apply to more senior sales hires. But is directed to those looking to make a move, and HOPEFULLY those just getting started in the wonderful world of selling SaaS.


So…Ladies and Gentlemen. You have your first interview. Likely a phone/web screening interview. Don’t screw it up.

Top 8 Ways to Sabotage Your Sales Interview:

  1. Being Late. (uh…table stakes right?) Even a first time phone conversation doesn’t mean you can show up last minute. Make sure you give yourself enough time to not be rushed. You may need to download the Zoom app. Make sure you have adequate cell service.
  2. Noisy or distracted environment. This is brutal. Make sure you have a QUIET place to have a conversation. *Video Conferencing Tip: Please use a laptop and not your cell phone. This is not Instagram, Snap or Marco Polo. And…get dressed! My recommendation is to dress like you want the job instead of what the company dress code is (especially in Tech). I’ve had video interviews with people in T-shirts, Shorts, Walking along the street etc. Don’t do this.
  3. No Prior Research. No knowledge of the company you are interviewing with is an immediate deal killer. Don’t ask me what we do. You have Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. Use them. Find out as much as you can about our company, me, our customers, our product and what our value proposition is.
  4. No Questions. If you are not asking probing questions about how we differentiate in the market, our potential hurdles, how you can make an impact – shows me you don’t really care about this job. I’m looking for someone who can guide conversations, engage the customer and is interesting to talk with. Show me that.
  5. No case studies. Have enough real-world examples to fall back on for questions like: “Tell me about a recent deal you won and what you had to overcome to land it?” or “How has hard work and perseverance shaped your career so far?” Not answering questions with specific real-life examples makes me think you haven’t done what you say you have done.
  6. No Passion. Even if it means lying to yourself, make me believe you want the job and will crush it. With your tone (or body language, eye contact etc.) sound INTERESTED in the job. Convince me after a short phone interview that you will be excited, motivated and hungry to deliver exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve passed over seemingly “more qualified” candidates for more passionate ones and its most always paid off.
  7. Not asking for the job. Tell me you’d be a good fit, are excited (see previous bullet) at the opportunity and that I’d be making a mistake at hiring anyone else. Close me. At the very least, you need to discover what next steps in the interview process is and ensure you are part of them. Especially in sales, this is exactly what you’ll be doing when hired. If you can’t establish next steps or ask for the close for yourself, chances are you won’t be able to do this for our company either.
  8. No Immediate Follow Up. In talking with others, it seems like a good rule of thumb is within 24-48 hours. I think that’s too long. What will it hurt to immediately (or within a couple hours at the latest) send a follow up note thanking me for my time. This also lets you recap our conversation along with how and where you can add your talents to the team. Don’t have my email? Should have asked for it before the call was over. But if not? Google it. Stalk me on LinkedIn. Or Guess by sending to all the standard aliases companies use. Just follow up. *Bonus deal killer- if spelling and grammar is an issue, that’s an issue.

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