3 Ways Generative AI Will Help Marketers Connect With Customers
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As someone who spent more than 10 years as an account executive (AE), I’ve had my fair share of job interviews. Now as a CEO, I’ll soon be growing my own team. When I think about how to conduct an interview, I’m looking for questions that show a candidate’s resume and background. What can I ask to reveal how a seller deals with customers and what that could mean for the company?
To draw these answers out effectively, here are the specific questions I would ask all AE candidates — and the responses that will win you big points with hiring managers.
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With this question, the interviewer is trying to get a sense of how clearly a candidate can describe their responsibilities. They want to see a link between what the candidate has done in the past and key responsibilities of the new position.
It pays to be prepared. Before the interview, make a list of the three or four key responsibilities that align with what you’d be doing in the new position and put together a short description of each. That way you won’t be caught off guard, and you can show the interviewer how you’d tackle new challenges.
As to measurements, this should be straightforward for a sales role. It’s a red flag when success metrics are murky because it shows that you don’t have clear goals. To address this question, make sure you talk about each specific performance metric and KPI, and how you achieved them. Then, explain how each one aligned with the goals of you and your team.
This question is about alignment. It tests whether you can tie your proudest accomplishment to your role and the company’s success. Most companies are looking for candidates who value honesty, so use the opportunity to talk about how you worked through difficult situations. Given that 72% of sales professionals were struggling to make their quota in 2023, it isn’t a shock if you didn’t hit the mark. Your honesty can really make you stand out.
For example, rather than just talking about how many quarters you over-performed, you could describe how you turned a loss into a win down the road. Maybe you didn’t land a deal, but you nurtured the relationship and turned a loss into an important client. Play up your relationship-building skills to show you can push past a loss.
This question tests your self-awareness and coachability. One way to approach this is to think about a deal that closed but didn’t quite deliver on your goals. Why did that happen, and what could you do better?
Reflect on all of the elements and map them out. Did you make sure to address every stakeholder? Did you upsell as much as you could? What tools did you use to keep track of every touchpoint and interaction? Were you as diligent as you should have been with follow-ups? Take notes, then talk about the impact each had on the outcome and the steps you’d take to improve next time. This shows the interviewer that you are committed to improving, and are able to take constructive feedback.
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The idea of your interviewer calling your boss might send a chill down your spine, but this question isn’t meant to scare you. It’s another way for your interviewer to see how self-aware you are. It also helps them understand how you were previously coached and whether you received frequent feedback.
In the first part of the question, the interviewer wants to understand what makes you a good rep, and how your approach aligns with their own. This is where it’s important to be prepared to speak specifically about your strengths, and why those skills are valuable to you. Be honest, and talk about how you made a measurable impact on your team and your company.
The second part of the question — areas you are improving — is not the time to call attention to your weaknesses. Instead, it’s a chance to highlight something you want to do better at your job. For example, you might say that prospecting takes a lot of time, so you want to understand AI and how to use it effectively.
This helps the interviewer understand the type of leader you prefer to work with. However, this question can be tricky. If you don’t have a good relationship with your VP, you may be tempted to talk about their lack of interpersonal or management skills. Any negative talk about a past employer or manager is a huge red flag, so if you don’t have anything positive to say here, take a different approach.
Discuss why or how a situation was challenging, but do so in the context of what you learned from it. How did you adjust your approach to your work, and how would you apply that lesson to future roles?
This question helps interviewers figure out if you’re running to the next role or running from something. In this case, it’s a great idea to talk about what appeals to you about the hiring company and manager or how you want to use new skills and capabilities as part of a forward-thinking organization. Are you excited about the company’s use of innovative technology? Did you recently learn how to use a video prospecting tool, or are you proficient at selling through different sales channels? Use this question to talk about that. If you were laid off, don’t be afraid to say so. A prospective employer shouldn’t hold that against you, and it pays to be honest.
Interviewers aren’t looking for a perfect candidate. They want to understand your potential, your ability to self-actualize, and what steps and actions you’re taking to upskill. They also want to know why you’re interested in the position and how you believe you can benefit their team. Interviewers want to see that you are working to become a more productive salesperson and a more valuable member of the team. Given those goals, make sure you deliver answers that hit the mark — revealing yourself to be a one-of-a-kind, thoughtful, committed candidate.
Beyond that, make sure you have questions of your own. Sometimes, the interviewer will start off the conversation by asking if you have any questions. If you don’t have anything prepared, it’s an awkward starting point. The last thing you want to do is make a poor first impression.
Interviews will always be high-stakes and stressful. But when you prepare for tough questions in advance, you’ll be better able to keep your cool. Make notes of what you want to say, rehearse your answers, and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
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