10 Questions You Can LEGALLY Ask Your Sales Candidates

 Dealerships that use best practices in interviewing and that are extremely effective in consistently hiring top sales performers use customized or standard behavioral-based interview guides to remain consistent in their line of questioning. These companies train their hiring managers on legal and effective interview questions and techniques to utilize during the interview.


These same "risk wise" companies will conduct a job analysis audit for every position within their dealership to establish the types of behavioral and situational questions necessary for their interviewing process. A job analysis audit is a process whereby a company compiles objective data of what is required to be successful in a given position.

This process is conducted via interviews, surveys, and testing (both hard skills and soft skills testing). This process allows the dealership to objectively identify the competencies, behaviors, thinking, and decision-making styles, as well as the technical skills that are common among their top performers and required for the position in question.


This process also establishes a hiring benchmark or interviewing guide for managers to follow. The resulting list of critical competencies is what interviewers will use to evaluate candidates. This benchmark, customized to each position, allows the company to define the core line of behavioral interview questions that will uncover these critical competencies, behaviors, and thinking styles, as they directly relate to the job requirements.


This is especially critical for sales positions to eliminate high turnover. Below is a list of legally defensible behavioral interview questions to ask your next sales candidate. These questions will help you uncover core competencies during the interview.

  1. Describe the type of customers with whom you typically have success in selling. Are they the type of customers who are engaging and personable, or are they the type of customers who prefer to know just the facts, price, etc., and have very little personal interaction?

  2. Please tell me about a time when you had to make a judgment call on how to handle a customer situation where there was no guideline. What was the situation, how did you handle it, and what was the outcome?

  3. We have all had to work with people who have different opinions on matters than us. Give me an example of a person or group who disagreed with you on a key issue and how you addressed the situation.
  4. Tell me about the most changing or unpredictable environment you have recently worked in. What made it so challenging to you?  

  5. Give me an example of a time when you learned from one of your mistakes that was brought to your attention by a customer, coworker, or manager. How did having it brought to your attention make you feel, and what did you do to overcome or correct the mistake?

  6. In any of your previous jobs, did you ever feel that you did not receive the proper credit for your ideas and accomplishments? Tell me about it. What did you do to get the credit you deserved?

  7. Tell me about a situation where you had to promote a product and/or service to a potential customer. What were the situation and the outcome?

  8. In your present position, what standards have you set for yourself concerning doing a good job? How do you know when you’ve done a good job? (Listen to see if the candidate has internal standards or focuses on what others think.) Did you determine those standards and how successful were you in reaching those standards?

  9. Many people do not try certain tasks or delay getting their work done until the very last minute because of a desire not to fail. Please give me an example of when you found yourself changing your plan or not trying something because you were afraid you might fail. Please describe the situation you were faced with, your final decision, and the outcome.

  10. Momentum is important for success. Give me examples of two momentum-killers you’ve encountered in your previous job, and give me your thoughts on how management can prevent those.


Conducting a job analysis audit to objectively identify the core competencies required for a given job, and then customizing a list of behavioral-based interview questions like the ones mentioned above

to identify those competencies, can significantly reduce your exposure to employment practices claims and increase your potential for hiring top performers.


Mike Poskey is President of ZERORISK HR, a Dallas-based human resources consulting firm that focuses on hiring, developing, and retention programs for the auto dealer industry and is the exclusive provider of the ZERORISK Hiring System.


For more information, visit https://ZERORISKHR.com/.

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Comment by J. Michael Zak on October 7, 2016 at 12:19pm

Mike, great thoughtful questions.  Appreciate your contribution.

Comment by DealerELITE on October 5, 2016 at 1:42pm

Thank you for sharing

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