The Art of Interviewing: Discovering High-Potential Talent through Great Questions

Nov 27, 2023 | Leadership

As a sales leader, you know that the key to a successful team isn’t just about numbers; it’s also about people. Your ability to identify, attract, and nurture emerging high-potential talent can make or break your unit. To get there, you need more than a resume scan and a basic skills test. The interview is your goldmine for these insights, but only if you ask the right questions. Here are some unconventional but highly revealing questions, each followed by why it’s crucial to include them in your interviews.

1. When do you feel most alive or energized?

Why it’s important: This question is aimed to identify passion and motivation, traits that are essential for anyone in a high-paced, stressful sales environment. The answer can give you insights into what really drives the candidate and whether their ‘zone’ aligns with the demands and rewards of the role you are offering.


2. What’s the most important lesson someone has shared with you, and how have you used it to cease positive change in yourself or others?

Why it’s important: This question uncovers a candidate’s ability for self-improvement and their approach to professional and personal growth. If a candidate can’t think of any critical life lesson or, worse, hasn’t applied any such lessons for improvement, it’s a red flag for a fixed mindset.


3. Why do people love working with you?

Why it’s important: This opens the door to attributes like teamwork, emotional intelligence, and leadership. The candidate’s answer will reveal their self-awareness and how they contribute to a positive work culture—both crucial in a sales setting where teamwork and morale are keys to resilience and performance.

4. What are two or three things that are working so well for you right now that you want to continue to build on them?

Why it’s important: This question speaks to a candidate’s current strengths and their aspirations for further development. It can help you understand where they might fit within your team dynamics and what they can immediately bring to the table.

5. What’s the most important question you’ve ever been asked, and how did you respond?

Why it’s important: This is a bit of a meta-question that checks critical thinking and reflection. How candidates describe their reaction to an important question can tell you about their problem-solving skills, values, and ability to deal with high-stakes situations.

6. How do you celebrate wins, both big and small?

Why it’s important: Sales is a grind, but it’s also a field that thrives on victories. Knowing how a candidate celebrates wins can provide insights into their fit for your company culture and their ability to maintain a positive mindset. This question also reveals whether they have a ‘team win’ attitude or a soloist mentality.

7. Think of a huge team win. What qualities did you bring to that moment that helped make it possible?

Why it’s important: This gets at the heart of team dynamics and leadership. The candidate’s answer will give you a window into their ability to collaborate, their recognition of the group effort, and their unique contribution that made the win possible.

8. What is the most challenging failure you’ve ever experienced, and how could you positively reframe that situation to find the benefits?

Why it’s important: Sales is no stranger to setbacks. Resilience is a must-have trait. This question helps you gauge their ability to turn failure into a learning experience. Do they carry the lessons forward? Do they get bogged down, or do they find the silver lining that prepares them for future challenges?

Remember, great talent often doesn’t look like you expect it to and might not even have the resume you’re used to seeing. But by asking the right questions, you can unlock a wealth of potential, and perhaps find the next gem for your high-performing sales team.