Interview Question: "What's Most Rewarding About a Sales Career?"

Car salesperson

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During your sales interview, you might be asked to explain why you want to work in sales. This question may arise in several variants, such as: "What do you find most rewarding about working in sales?" or "Why do you want to work in sales?" or "Why sales?"

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know

By asking these questions, interviewers seek to understand why you work in this field. They want to know whether you have a passion for sales, and that you understand what it takes to be a strong salesperson.

Your response to this question can also help to reveal what motivates you as an employee.

How to Answer the Question

In your response, you'll want to demonstrate that you possess the qualities and skills needed to be successful in sales.

It can be helpful to jot down a list of things you enjoy about working in sales. Is it the rush of landing a deal? The connection with customers? Being able to draw up and fulfill a strategic plan to land a client?

Some traits you might want to emphasize in your response include:

  • A competitive nature: Numbers often drive salespeople, from closing a big deal to beating the previous quarter.
  • Relationship building: People in sales tend genuinely to enjoy making contacts and spending time talking with people.
  • Providing strong customer service: This can include skills like listening to customers, helping to resolve their issues, and providing a prompt response to any problems that arise.
  • A talent for explanation and answering questions: Salespeople are problem-solvers, helping to point out to potential customers how a product or service will benefit them.

It's also very advantageous to make a connection to the specific company or role at hand. For example, you might say, "For me, the most rewarding aspect of working in sales is helping people solve their problems. So many people get intimidated by budgeting, but it doesn't have to be that complex. That's what I like about ABC Company's product—it's a user-friendly tool that can help people create and stick to a budget." 

Examples of the Best Answers

One of the things I find most rewarding in sales is when I talk with a customer after I've sold them a product and they can point to positive results. Of course my primary goal as a salesperson is always to land the deal, but really, I'm in it because I believe the products I sell can improve people's lives and make companies run more efficiently.

Why It Works: This response has a clear point of view. After hearing it, an interviewer will understand what drives this candidate. Plus, it points to important skills (relationship building and customer service), as well as the person's character.

I'm drawn to sales because I have a competitive nature and want to be always improving. To be successful in sales, you have to be skilled at creating a one-on-one connection. Yet you must also be capable of thinking strategically, for example, when delivering a compelling presentation to a big group. That's challenging—but also a good fit for my particular skills.

Why It Works: This response sums up some of the necessary skills required to be successful in sales, while also specifically pinpointing some of the characteristics the candidate possesses.

When I was in high school, I worked in a music store where each month the person who landed the most sales got a small bonus in their paycheck. The money wasn't the thing—it was the thrill of the strategy. I knew if I played certain music over the store speaker, customers would be interested, and when they asked about it, I'd be able to make the sale. And when customers came in looking for a gift, I figured out which series of questions would help uncover the right purchase for them to make. From a very young age, I realized how gratifying it was to use these sales skills to help people.

Why It Works: This response is deeply personal and shows how the candidate has long understoodhow to be successful in the field.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Highlight skills: Show off the key skills required to be successful in sales, and give examples of times when you've used these skills.

Talk about customers: People considering sales must be able to get satisfaction from helping a customer to realize his or her goals.

Talk about your wins: Consider using this question as a moment to highlight some of your accomplishments. If there was nothing like that first thrill of landing a sale, point it out.

Connect with the company/product: If you can show why you're particularly passionate about sales in the company's industry, you'll seem like an engaged and appealing candidate.

What Not to Say

Purely financial answers: Maybe you like sales because it's a field where you're likely to get a bonus. Although mentioning how you find bonuses and commission motivating is OK, try not to make your entire answer about money. That could make interviewers concerned that a few slow months will result in you quitting.

It's a job: Again, you want to show interviewers that you appreciate the skills involved in working in sales, and that you possess them. Saying "It's a good job" or "Because I can get a job easily" is dismissive.

Possible Follow-Up Questions

  • Tell me about the first time you ever sold something.
  • Are you comfortable making cold calls?
  • Have you consistently met your sales goals?
  • What motivates you?

Key Takeaways

Demonstrate your understanding of the role: In your answer, show that you have a good understanding of the skills and traits needed to be a strong salesperson.

Go beyond the financial: Give a reason for pursuing this role beyond salary, bonuses, or commission.

Make a connection: If you can make a connection to why you're drawn to this sales job in particular, do so.