The Best Sales Interview Tasks

5 Mins

Hiring Sales Talent? Unsure of the best interview tasks? Discover our latest blog.

A job interview is arguably the most important stage in any recruitment process, allowing you to build that all important first impression of a candidate, as well as giving you a chance to build a deeper understanding of their skills, strengths and weaknesses.

It’s for this reason that the face-to-face interview has stood the test of time and is still as popular as ever with firms for recruiting new staff. However, the format is starting to change as recruiters look for new ways to properly assess interviewee’s talents, often replacing the standard question and answer format with more in-depth tasks. This is particularly prominent in sales recruitment, where tasks can give a better overview of the skills people possess and how they effectively deploy them in a professional environment.

From scenario-based competency tasks to asking candidates to prepare a presentation in advance, interview tasks can be a fantastic way to ensure you get the right person with the skills you need.

Our top tips for securing the right candidate for your sales team with the best sales interview tasks


Recruiters often use presentations alongside traditional interviews, usually as part of the second interview stage. Giving the candidate time to prepare in advance really allows them to showcase the best of their abilities and can give a better understanding of how they plan to deploy their skills in your organisation, rather than just focusing on their previous experience alone.

Give your candidates plenty of notice to prepare their presentation, as well as details of what you expect to see from them. For example, in sales, you could provide them with the name of a product and ask them to prepare an in-depth sales pitch that will really show off their abilities. This lets you assess the candidate’s presentation skills, confidence and communication, alongside any specialist sales techniques they use.

Presentations can be particularly useful for graduate recruitment as it allows you to set the same task to a number of different candidates to easily compare and assess their individual abilities. It also gives candidates the chance to show off their competitive edge and how they utilise their skills to really showcase themselves.

Role play

Beyond a simple ‘sell me this pen’ scenario, role play can be useful in assessing how a candidate adapts their sales strategy on the spot to deal with unexpected scenarios. This involves the recruiter acting out a scene with the candidate and evaluating their performance.

Prepare a number of situations to get a broad view of capabilities. This includes different customer types, as well as other team members. For example, changing situations can let you see how a candidate communicates with a manager compared to how they speak to their peers. It can also be beneficial to swap roles around, allowing the interviewee to play a customer to see how well they can put themselves in their target audience’s shoes – an important asset for any successful sales person.  This task can be applied across the sales roles spectrum but is especially effective for graduate recruitment.

Team tasks

If you have multiple candidates or are hiring staff for multiple sales roles at once, a group interview task could be beneficial. Divide the candidates into small teams and set a challenge specific to your industry. You’ll need a few interviewers/recruiters in the room to effectively monitor how each group works together. Look out for trends, such as who shows leadership potential and seeks to take control to make things happen, as well as tracking who remains calm under pressure. This can be valuable in assessing how a candidate works within a team, as well as identifying their individual strengths and weaknesses.

Keirsey Temperament Sorter

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter[1] is a personality questionnaire that categorises respondents based on their answers. This can be a great tool to fully understand the attitudes and values of candidates.

Questions vary from how they would deal with cluttered workspaces and preparing presentations, to socialisation and story preferences. Once the candidate receives their character type, you can explore various avenues, including their:

  • Work style
  • Leadership skills
  • Selling techniques

It can be a great stepping stone to finding the best candidate for your sales team.

Strategy games

A great way to help your candidate loosen up, either before or after an interview, is to play a game. This could be ping-pong, foosball, or a game or two of pool. Not only does playing these games showcase your company as a fun place to work, it also helps you assess how a potential employee handles competition, as well as their approach to winning and losing. For example, if they lose, do they take a strategic mindset to change their approach for the next game, or do they show a drive to better themselves and get back to winning ways?

Although on the face of it, games may seem completely unrelated, they might help you learn a little bit about the way a candidate will work in a high pressure situation.

In-tray task

In-tray tasks are a popular interview technique used by businesses to see how a candidate handles and prioritises work-related tasks.

A straightforward way of conducting this is to give the potential employee around 100 emails to respond to in an allocated timeframe (usually between 30 minutes to an hour). The candidate must prioritise emails and draft up responses for urgent queries, making quick decisions and delegating tasks. This gives an insight into how sales focused they are, along with their time management and organisational skills. It also reveals how well they work under pressure.

Alongside your typical interview questions, employing some of these tasks as part of your interview process can provide greater insight into a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses and overall personality.

Discover how to hire sales talent with our sales recruitment service, or explore more job interview tips with our guide to the top five questions to ask in a sales interview.

Looking to recruit the very best for your sales team? Download our insight 10 steps to building a successful sales team and see how you can drive success. 

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