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Candidates want to do their best in interviews, so they frequently prepare by thinking through the most commonly asked questions and how they’ll answer. While this sort of deep thought can provide insight to hiring managers, additional information can be learned only by bringing candidates out of their comfort zone.

Here are some examples of challenging questions that require sales and marketing candidates to think deeply on the spot.

  1. When has perseverance paid off for you?

Perseverance and resilience are essential in sales and marketing. Professionals in these areas frequently encounter situations in which optimistic predictions don’t match what happens in real life.

By asking these candidates about their experience with persistence, hiring managers can gauge several traits about each candidate. First, the candidate’s answer may shed some light on how they analyze and consider both past failures and past successes. Second, it can help hiring managers understand how each candidate’s approach to hearing “no” shapes their work and their relationships with others.

  1. How does your work help others?

Sales and marketing can be intensely competitive fields. The pressure to compete causes some candidates in these fields to turn inwards, shaping their goals solely around their own performance.

By asking how the candidate’s work helps others, hiring managers can gauge the candidate’s orientation. Does the candidate “come alive” with passion for how their work is making a difference to customers and the world at large? Or do they seem baffled or even defensive in response to the question? Hiring managers can use their perceptions to better understand a candidate’s driving motivations.

  1. If you could change one thing about your current/most recent job, what would it be?

This question quickly separates whiners and complainers from candidates who proactively consider issues and look for ways to improve upon them. The named problem and solution themselves also provide insight into what sort of work environment the candidate thrives in, and which they will struggle with.

At SMR Group, our recruiters help our clients in the biotech, medical device and pharmaceutical industries connect with some of the best sales and marketing talent available nationwide. Contact us today to learn more.


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