How to Be a Great Interviewer Blog Feature
Molly DePasquale

By: Molly DePasquale on April 18th, 2013

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How to Be a Great Interviewer

sellers | Sales Tips | Sales Training | strategy

The interviewing phase is where we’re going to learn whatever we need to learn in order to eventually close the sale. There are four things we need to consider if we’re going to do a great job interviewing:


1. Know what to ask. 

2. Sound curious. 

3. React versus respond. 

4. Learn buying patterns. 


(1.) Know what to ask before you go into the meeting. Think about the following:

  • Have we ever worked in the past with similar organizations? 

  • What’ve we done with them? 

  • When we went into those sales, who did we encounter?  What sort of political things were going on?

look_for_binoculars_surprised_faceIf you’re meeting with the head of one division, are you likely to have to meet with the heads of the other departments or people in other locations? What type of sale are you likely to  get from that kind of company?  And if you’ have to meet with the other influencers, you need to ask about who those people are.  The more you think about the potential sales opportunities you have within that organization, the more likely it is that you'll be directed to the other kind of questions that will provide you with insight into your customer.  Think about all of those questions up front and write them down.

(2.) When you’re asking a question, you want to sound curious.  Because when you do, it will sound like you’re having a great conversation.  Note the use of the terms “conversation” and “interviewing” and not the more common word, “probing,” which sounds so clinical and cold. This term will benefit no one.   

To have a good relationship with someone, a great conversation is a way to get there.  There’s a lot of things that need to be done.  First, make sure that when you’re speaking, you sound like the way great interviewers sound on shows – which I encourage you to listen to or watch to observe the way that they sound. Interviewers do the majority of the asking, and the interviewee is actually does the majority of the talking.  The person who’s doing the majority of the talking is not the one leading the meeting.  If you get me to answer your questions, then you’re in charge and the one who is leading the meeting. You are the leader, and that’s the position you want to be in. How do you get there? One way is to take notes.  When we take notes, we’re sending a nonverbal signal to the other person, implying that we think what they’re saying is important.


The more you write, the more they tend to talk. 3. React versus respond.  When we react, we’re listening closely to what the other person just said.  We’re clarifying ambiguous statements about the need, budget, or timing.  Be on the alert for things like the word “soon.”  You want to say, “When you say soon, do you mean next week?  Next month?  Next year?” 

“When you say that you’re willing to spend a lot of money to solve that problem – when you say that - do you mean $1,000.00?  $100,000.00?  $1 billion?”  We want to get that out of the way and come to a mutual  understanding. When we ask those kind of questions, we’re clarifying what they said.  This makes it sound more like you’re listening and not interrogating.

“Well, never mind about what you were just telling me, Mr. Customer.  What about what you’re going to buy from me?” This sort of thing sounds very self-serving.  We do not want to respond, but rather react. Clarify ambiguous statements about timelines, budgets, and need. 

(4.) And finally, you need to know about buying patterns.  How did the customer buy the last time?  Who was involved?  How did they process the buying?  How did they onboard?  And why do they do it that way?  And has this person ever been part of that process?  Did he or she lead it last time?  Why did it turn out the way that it did?  And why did company reject previous offers?  And did you ever try to get that piece of work before?  Why hasn’t the company already bought from you? 

How come they bought from the companies they bought from?  When we learn the buying patterns, we are more likely to get the sale because we’re going to fit our sales process into their buying process.  But if we ignore their buying patterns, we will look like pushy salespeople.  A pushy salesperson ignores your buying patterns. 

Remember these 4 factors before going into that next interview:


Know what to ask. 

Sound curious. 

React versus respond. 

And learn their buying patterns. 



About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.






About Molly DePasquale

Molly DePasquale is the Manager of Operations and Sales Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.

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