Don’t flame me on the title, there is a method to this madness.  I like cliché questions for sales interviews.  There, I admitted it.  Now, I should clarify, I’m not talking about an entire interview of these questions, but rather some strategic ones sprinkled into your question list.

Here is why – if the question is cliché, the candidate should have a sparkling answer.  Their answer may be well-rehearsed – that is fine.  You, as the interviewer, simply need to drill down on their response to get to the unvarnished truth.

However, the catch to this approach is when they don’t have a strong answer.  I am always concerned about candidates who provide weak answers to expected questions.  They should have expected some of these questions and, more importantly, should have prepared for them.  This lack of preparation is often indicative of how they will prepare for an initial meeting with a prospect.

Here is one I often incorporate, “Tell me about a time when you had to go well beyond your normal responsibilities to close a deal.”  Simple, cliché, but here is why it works – I want to hear a good, real example.  I’m looking for what they perceive as being a stretch for their role.  There is much to be learned in their response.

There are many sales prima donnas who have a high maintenance attitude.  Some tasks, in their opinion, are beneath them.  I’m always looking for where they draw the line in that I don’t want a salesperson who tries to do everything themselves either.  There is a happy medium that works for your position.  My experience has shown that smaller companies expect salespeople to do more tasks while larger companies expect more specialization.

Keep those cliché questions handy next time you interview a strong sales candidate.

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