Software Sales

The 10 Most Commonly Asked SDR Interview Questions

Do you have some sales development representative interviews coming up? If so, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with questions that managers may ask and come up with answers that give them what they’re looking for.

In this article, we’ll help you do both. You’ll walk away knowing the most frequently asked SDR interview questions and top strategies for answering them. I’ll also share some anecdotes from my experiences when I was interviewing at various tech companies for this position.

Let’s dive in.

1. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

The employer is asking this question to attain two pieces of information. First, they want to see if you are smart and organized enough to do some research before coming into an interview. Research is a big part of the SDR function, as you have to personalize your outreach to a lead’s company and position. So they want candidates who already have this habit.

Second, they want to know that you are actually enthusiastic about working at their company, as enthusiasm implies you’ll be a hard worker and less likely to quit if things get hard.

To satisfy the hiring manager, it’s therefore important to give a well-researched response. Bring something you learned when you read about the company into your explanation.

For example, if you really liked their software solution, tell them that and explain why you want to sell it specifically. If you read about their tight-knit company culture, bring that up and say why it’s important to you.

Use this question as an opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework and are taking this SDR job interview seriously.

2. Why Should We Hire You?

The hiring manager is testing your sales skills here. They want to see if you can sell them on hiring you. So it’s important to nail this one.

A good strategy is to make your pitch reflect the job posting. Start by mentioning a few qualifications they said they wanted, whether that’s a sales rep with 2+ years experience or someone who knows the real estate industry. And then prove to them that you have these important qualifications and are therefore the best choice.

For example, if they want an SDR who’s skilled at talking with C-Suite execs, share some experience in which you succeeded at this.

Additionally, it can help to throw in a differentiating factor at the end. This is what sets you apart from other candidates. It should be personal and unique. For example, mine was something along these lines:

“I’m incredibly systematic when it comes to my own skill development. If you hire me, you can be sure that after each cold call, I’ll be writing in my notebook exactly what went wrong and what went right, so that by the next time I’ll have reflected on my performance and improved.”

If you need help thinking of a reason why you’re better than the other reps out there, think about your personal experience. Do you have a particular trait that makes you good at sales? Do people often tell you their most intimate details about their life without you asking?

Have you had a challenge that you overcame that taught you a significant lesson? That story, compressed into a few minutes in length, can make a great differentiating factor.

3. Why Are You Interested in Sales?

Here, the hiring manager is simply trying to gauge how much thought you’ve given to this career decision. They want someone committed to the profession. In their eyes, these will be the candidates who perform for many years to come.

Therefore, it’s critical that you give them a convincing and engaging story about how you became interested in sales. Don’t be afraid to get specific and personal. Those two ingredients make stories, even in responses to interview questions, incredibly powerful.

I think my answer went something like this: I spent a long time in college convinced that I was going to be in finance. It’s where all my friends were going.

But every job description I read bored me to tears, and I’d find myself walking around the library chatting with friends instead, or taking a call with a friend from home to pass the time.

I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but suddenly it dawned on me that I have a knack for relationships, and get great pleasure from maintaining and growing them. And so on — you get the gist.

I probably threw something in there about Mark Cuban saying that if he were to start all over at $0 he’d go into sales.

The main point is that you need to think about why you specifically want to take this position. Then craft a story that expresses your ultimate reason. A story from your life will make the interviewer feel connected to you and convinced of your passion which will surely ensure leaving a positive impression on these SDR interview questions.

4. Explain Our Software to Me Like I’m a New Prospect 

The hiring manager is using this question to test your ability to communicate and talk about complex technology. They’re also testing to see if you did your research.

The goal here is to describe their product clearly and articulately, with as little technical jargon as possible. Pretend you’re talking to a kid. That’s often the level of understanding your prospects will have unless you’re selling to IT folks.

I remember one of my interviews with a CEO perfectly. He asked me this question. And I spit out the exact paragraph that was on their website. I had memorized it.

Proud of myself, I sat there waiting for applause, but to my surprise, all I got was an eye roll and a “great, you memorized it. Now pretend I’m your grandmother and do it over.”

Oof. My mistake.

Luckily, I was able to recalibrate and give him what he wanted. I ended up saying something like “you get the hard data for customers and make it easy to understand.” The CEO loved it.

After the interview, I remember going on Glassdoor to check out other people’s experiences. One guy didn’t get the job because he wasn’t able to pass that exact question. He said the CEO really wanted people to understand the software and what the company was trying to accomplish. This is true for most C-Suite execs.

The moral of the story is that you should do your homework, and do it correctly. Go to their product page, read their description, then turn it into your own words. This will be more impressive to the hiring manager than parroting their marketing copy.

5. Tell Me About One Time You’ve Failed — How Did You React?

To succeed, SDRs must make friends with failure. If they can’t, they’ll be utterly miserable, because most cold calls lead to nothing but rejection.

So when the hiring manager asks this question, show them that you’re able to not just handle rejection, but also to turn it into something positive.

An answer in the form of an anecdote works best here. Set the scene. Tell them about the failure. Explain how it made you feel.

Then diagnose the reason for that failure. That’s the kicker. That’s when you show the interviewer that you are able to take responsibility and learn from your mistakes. This is what they want. To finish the story, describe how you adjusted your strategy in light of that lesson and then succeeded the next time around.

6. Tell Me a Bit More About {Resume Section}.

Sometimes hiring managers want you to elaborate on some section of your resume, so they’ll ask this question. Usually, it will either be something that’s foreign to them, such as my water department summer job, or some sales experience they want to hear more about.

The best way to prepare for this question is to go over each job and experience on your resume and practice expanding on it. That way, you’ll be ready to go when they ask this question.  

7. Can You Tell Me a bit About Yourself?

This is probably going to be the first question you hear in all of your SDR interviews. It’s therefore important to answer it effectively to set the tone for the rest of the interview.

A best practice is to give an overview of your past professional experiences and explain how they led you to your current goal of working in sales. Then share where you hope to be in the next few years, whether that’s a management position or a team-leading closer. Try to keep it all under three minutes.

Since this is an especially important question with lots of room for creativity, I recommend reading this article by The Muse, where they provide formulas and tips for answering “ tell me about yourself.”

8. What Do You Know About the SDR Role?

This is a test to see if you read the job description and know what you’re signing up for. This test shouldn’t be hard to pass as long as you’ve committed some of the job responsibilities in the job posting to memory. You can simply list off a few of these tasks (qualify leads, work with marketing to generate leads, cold call, etc.) and the interviewer should be satisfied.

If you want to really impress the hiring manager, spend some time talking about how SDRs need to be excellent question-askers and listeners so that they can uncover a lead’s pain points that can be solved by your software.

9. What Motivates You?

Sales departments use a variety of incentives to motivate their sales reps to perform. They are asking this question in part to make sure that their incentive plan will work for you.

The most common types of incentives are commission (money) and competition. Therefore, it’s a good idea to say you are motivated by money and competition.

Then, consider giving a story about a time in your life when you were incredibly motivated by the competitive spirit, whether that was to win the tennis title or get the best grade in a class. This adds a personal touch to the answer and makes your answer more believable.

There’s no need to tell a story about how you’re motivated by money. The hiring manager already believes that. However, you might want to share with them some dream purchases you have. That could be a lake house, free college education for your children, or a sense of financial security your family never had while you were growing up.

10. How Would You Spark Interest in a Potential Customer?

Sales managers want to make sure that you have at least some strategies in mind for booking meetings with cold leads. They hope their new hires have read some sales books on the matter or learned something through experience. The best way to impress them is to give an answer that shows you’ve done both.

First, explain a strategy for cold outreach. The one I used in my SDR interview was about doing research on a company and the decision-maker, brainstorming problems and pains they likely have, and then mentioning these pain points first thing on the call. After explaining the technique high-level, give an actual showcase of what you would say, like so:

“Hi, Sam here, and I head up a new business at {Company Name}. A lot of {Decision-Makers Title} at {Company Type} are coming to us lately because they’re fed up with {Pain Point A}, which is forcing them to {Pain Point B}.”

If possible, after delivering this example, share some stories from the past in which this strategy worked. If you have no experience in customer service or sales, you can end it here and still have given a great answer. Or, you can tell a story about how you influenced someone in your life to do something using this method.

If you follow this approach, the hiring manager will trust that you care about sales and are dedicated to learning the craft.

Conclusion: SDR Interview Questions

Before you arrive at an SDR interview it’s a good idea to sketch out answers to each of the above questions and tailor them to the specific company.

It’s often best to write the answers in bullet points and then fill in the blanks with whatever comes to mind as you speak. That way you’ll have a guide, but will still sound natural. Practice doing this a few times for each question and you should ace answering these SDR interview questions regardless of interview jitters.

Now, if you’re ready to start interviewing, check out the Sales Trax job board, where you can easily find entry-level SDR roles with great software companies.