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Promotional Products Job Interview Questions | Sales Representative Edition

Most job interviews are a challenging experience for everyone involved.

The candidate is nervous and on edge. Most candidate’s greatest fear about a job interview is that they’ll be open, honest, their best self will shine through, and they still won’t get the job. To hedge against this, most rehearse their answers to standard interview questions. At best, this process results in stiff, inauthentic answers, at worst, some answers are flat-out lies.

The success or failure of most job interviews comes down to how much the interviewer prepared for the interview ahead of time. The biggest mistake a hiring manager can make is to come unprepared and simply take a candidate’s answers at face value. We all know that talk is cheap and it’s up to you, the interviewer, to get to the truth.

Canned Responses and A Wasted Hour

Here are 5 very common traditional interview questions that you’ve probably asked or been asked many times.

  • “What are your greatest strengths or weaknesses?”
  • “What did you enjoy most/least about your last position?”
  • “Describe the best boss you’ve ever had.”
  • “Where do you want to be in 5 years?”
  • “How would your coworkers or supervisor describe you?”

9 out of 10 times these questions get you absolutely nowhere. You’ll learn little about your candidate and be no closer to discovering what they would be like as a co-worker. Candidates have prepared and rehearsed answers to these questions to death. These canned answers are designed to make the candidate look great and tell the interviewer what they want to hear. As a result, the interviewer and the candidate part ways knowing very little new, honest information about each other.

How can you be expected to make the very expensive decision of hiring a new employee with such murky information?

Behavior-Based Interviewing

The solution to this predicament is behavior-based questions. These questions are built on the philosophy that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Traditional interview question: “How do you handle stress?”

Behavior-based interviewing question: “Tell me about a time you had to perform a task or project under a lot of stress?”

20 Terrific Interview Questions for Sales Representatives

“Tell me about a time when a client came to you with a problem. What did you do?”

“Tell me about a presentation that you made to upper management. What was it about? How did it go?”

“Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see/do things your way.”

“Describe a situation where you had to collect information by asking many people a lot of questions.”

“Describe a time when you facilitated a creative solution to a problem in the workplace.”

“Describe a time when you took personal accountability for a conflict and initiated contact with a client/coworker to explain your actions.”

“Tell me about a time you felt you needed to be assertive in order to get what you felt you or your team deserved or needed.”

“Give me an example of a time you effectively used your people skills to solve a customer problem.”

“Tell me about a major project you recently completed. How did you set project goals and monitor your progress?”

“Tell me about a time when you used your interpersonal skills to build a network of contacts to reach goals.”

“Describe a time where your patience in gathering information paid off.”

“Describe a time where you took the initiative to act rather than waiting to be told what to do.”

“Describe for me a situation when you had to build and maintain a new relationship in order to accomplish a business goal.”

“Give me an example of a time when you were a good listener.”

“Give me an example of a time when you had to juggle several important activities and projects in a limited amount of time. Did you stay on top of all of them? How?”

“All jobs have unpleasant tasks. Tell me about the most unpleasant tasks you were required to do at work. Were you successful in getting it done? Why or why not?”

‘Tell me about a big project you had to plan for work.”

“Describe the most significant presentation you have had to give.”

“Give me an example of an important goal you have had and how you went about achieving it.”

“Tell me about the greatest business risk you have taken.”

The job interview process and the results garnered from it are greatly improved when hiring firms move from the tired, old interview questions to behavior-based interview questions.  The answers that come from behavior-based questions give the candidate a chance to truly reveal who they are, what they’ve done in the past, and what they can contribute to the hiring firm.  With this knowledge, hiring firms can make quality decisions that reduce ramp-up time, improve retention, and increase their chances of making a great hire!

 

“Have you ever been fired-”

“Have You Ever Been Fired?”

“Have you ever been fired?”

“Have you ever been fired?”

Being fired is the worst. However, it’s also very common. In 2014, the US Department of Labor reported that an average of 55,318 people were laid off or fired every day. The total for the year was 20,191,070.

It happens. If it has happened to you it’s likely that you’re going to be asked about it. Your best bet is to be prepared. Follow these tips and you can turn a difficult question into a springboard to a new job.

Why Are They Asking You This?

When hiring managers ask about an employment gap they are asking because they want to know:

Are you a risky hire?

Can you handle a tough question/adversity?

How do you handle pressure?

Are you honest?

Best Practices

Realize that this question is not an attack on you or your skills.

Being honest and forthcoming says a lot about your character.

Take responsibility for your role in the situation.

Frame your response in terms of what you’ve learned—not what happened.

Explain what you learned from the situation, and how you’ve improved since then.

Don’t speak negatively of your former employer, ever!

Avoid going into detail about how it happened, your emotions, how it affected your family, etc. All the hiring manager wants is a simple answer to a simple question.

Keep it brief! Rambling will only get you in trouble.

After you answer, turn the conversation back toward the new position and how your abilities match what is needed.

Keep it positive and focus on how it makes you a better candidate today.

Thousands of people are fired each day for a myriad of reasons. It has no bearing on your long-term career prospects, your ability to land a great job, or the skillset that you possess. Don’t beat yourself up or adopt the mindset of nobody will hire you because you’ve been fired. A strong answer to a question about an employment gap will show your interviewer that you’ve moved on from a very brief career setback in a positive and reflective way.

 

Promo Interview Questions

Promotional Products Job Interview Questions | CSR Edition

Promo Interview Questions

Most promotional product job interviews are a challenging experience for everyone involved.

The candidate is nervous and on edge. Most candidate’s greatest fear about a job interview is that they’ll be open, honest, their best self will shine through, and they still won’t get the job. To hedge against this, most study up on inauthentic rehearsed answers that they think the hiring manager will want to hear.

Often the interviewer is less than prepared and would rather be doing something else. The biggest mistake most hiring managers make is taking a candidate’s answer at face value. That’s not to say that they are lying, but talk is cheap.

Canned Responses and A Wasted Hour

Here are 5 very common traditional interview questions that you’ve probably asked or been asked.

  • “What are your greatest strengths or weaknesses?”
  • “What did you enjoy most/least about your last position?”
  • “Describe the best boss you’ve ever had.”
  • “Where do you want to be in 5 years?”
  • “How would your coworkers or supervisor describe you?”

9 out of 10 times these questions get you absolutely nowhere. You’ll learn little about your candidate and be no closer to discovering what they would be like as a co-worker. Candidates have prepared and rehearsed these answers to death. The canned answers are designed to make the candidate look great and tell the interviewer what they want to hear. As a result, the interviewer and the candidate part ways knowing very little new, honest information about each other.

How can you be expected to make the very expensive decision of hiring a new employee with such murky information?

Behavior-Based Interviewing

The solution to this predicament is behavior-based questions. These questions are built on the philosophy that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Traditional interview question: “How do you handle stress?”

Behavior-based interviewing question: “Tell me about a time you had to perform a task or project under a lot of stress?”

20 Terrific Interview Questions for CSRs

“Describe a time you exceeded the expectations of a client?”

“Sometimes sales reps will drag their feet in taking action on something or be out of the office and unreachable. Tell me about a time that quick action was needed on something and you took it upon yourself to lead the effort.”

“Describe a situation where you had to collect information by asking many people a lot of questions.”

“Give me an example of the kinds of issues you have talked to your sales rep about rather than handling them yourself.”

“Tell me about the most difficult customer with whom you’ve had to deal?”

“Tell me what tool you would use and how would use it to source 144 US-made hot pink widgets priced below $6.00.”

“Describe a time where your patience in gathering information paid off.”

“Tell me about your most challenging sourcing project and how you overcame the obstacles.”

“Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks?”

“Tell me about a time you needed to get cooperation from a vendor for you to be successful on a task or project.”

“Describe a time when you were able to become personal friends with a customer.”

“Tell me about a time when you caught an error that others had missed.”

“Describe a time you were not able to deliver a product to a client on time.”

“Give me an example of a time you identified a potential problem and resolved the situation before it became serious.”

“Tell me about the last time you missed a project deadline because you were not well organized.”

“Describe a time you had to make a quick decision with incomplete information.”

“Tell me about a time you had to work with conflicting, delayed, or ambiguous information. What did you do to make the most of the situation?”

“Describe the worst-on-the-job crisis you had to solve. How did you manage to maintain your composure?”

“Tell me about a situation in which a customer was so difficult that you just gave up trying (or were unable to satisfy him/her?”

“Describe the most creative work project you’ve ever completed.”

The promotional product job interview experience and results garnered can be greatly improved when hiring firms shift from canned interview questions to behavior-based interview questions.  The answers that come from behavior-based questions give the candidate a chance to truly reveal who they are, what they’ve done in the past, and what they can contribute to the hiring firm.  With this knowledge, hiring firms can make quality decisions that reduce ramp-up time and improve retention.

 

"Sell Me This..."

This One Exercise Tells You Everything You Need to Know

There are thousands of questions that can come up in an interview.

There are standard questions: “Tell me about yourself.”

There are abstract questions: “What’s your favorite fruit and why?”

There are behavioral questions: “Tell me about a time when you encountered a difficult client. How did you handle it?”

No question can tell you everything you need to know about a job applicant.  However, this one exercise should sum up how a promotional product rep sells.

"Sell Me This..."

Hand the sales rep a blank promotional product and tell them, “Sell this to me.”

The sales rep’s response will to you a lot about how they approach promotional products. Responses will fall into one of three categories.

Product-based responses will focus on the specifics of the item that you hand them. They’ll talk about the imprint area, decorating options, or the great quality construction of the item. This is the worst of the three responses. These reps love and know the products, but don’t sell solutions.

Solution-based responses will address the business need that the product can fill. They’ll talk about the results achieved from using promotional products, such as an increase in trade show traffic, a boost in employee morale, or higher brand recognition.

Inquiry-based responses focus on questioning. These reps will need you to tell them more. What events do you have coming up that this product might be a fit for? What business challenges are you facing now? They’ll ask questions that give them all the ammo they need to sell you the item.  In fact, they might even have you sell yourself.

This exercise will give you a terrific insight into the thought process and value proposition utilized by a promotional product sales rep. Here are five additional questions that will help to fill out the picture even further.

  • “What do you like about prospecting?”
  • “What’s your social media skill level?”
  • “How do you feel about face-to-face networking?”
  • “How long do you think it will take you to put together a sales plan and begin to execute it?”
  • “What is the first thing you would do when you realize that you’re in a sales slump?”

To read more on how to evaluate promotional product sales reps read our article on the “6 Traits of Top-Performing Sales Reps”.

What are your go-to questions when interviewing sales reps?