Sales development representatives (SDR) are the backbone of your sales team. 

They’re the people who help create new business, do the grunt work to find that new business, plus optimize your sales process. 

Because your sales team dictates the growth of your bottom line, you only want to hire strong performers and go-getters who love a good challenge — but since this role is often entry-level, keep your eye out for thirsty newbies who seek growth. 

During your SDR interviews, you have to assess each candidate’s hard, soft, and behavioral intelligence skills. 

If you don’t, it’ll cost you: In a CloserIQ article, DemoDesk’s Head of Marketing James Meincke says a bad hire costs between 50% to 75% of the hire’s annual salary — that means you’ll lose $25,000 and $37,500 trying to replace an employee who earned $50,000. 

To avoid this expense and find the high-performing SDRs you need to scale your sales team, ask the right questions. 

10 best SDR interview questions to find your next exceptional hire

Just because the SDR role is an entry-level position doesn’t mean you should take the hiring process lightly. To find the best of the best, ask these 10 SDR interview questions you’ll never go wrong with.

1. Why do you want to sell our product or service? 

The answer to this classic question tells you a lot about SDR candidates, especially their preparedness and passion.

If they want to sell your product or service for a reason they can explain thoroughly, this candidate will likely approach their job intentionally. Likewise, if they don’t bother to research your company before the interview, they might not research important details to inform their outreach efforts.

Keep this in mind: Personalization is key to converting leads, and you can’t do that without background research. 

This question shows you how serious a candidate is about the job. Plus, it gives you a preview into how they’ll engage and sell prospects on your business.

2. Do you like being on the phone regularly?

sdr interview

Ask this SDR interview question early, folks — you won’t be sorry. 

Cold calling and phone prospecting are huge parts of an SDR’s day-to-day — if your candidate doesn’t feel comfortable being on the phone regularly, they might not be right for the job

You want to hire someone you can trust to help boost your sales statistics (like your close ratio!), and you’ll lose a lot of time and money trying to turn a phone-shy SDR into a prospect hunter.

Besides, sales are a performance game, and you want an SDR who’s willing to chase every sale, no matter the method they have to use to get it. 

3. What do you look for (and where) when researching a prospect? 

If your potential SDR answers this question and says, “I just check out their company,” maybe end the interview early…

Just kidding. But that’s definitely a red flag to note. Even if they’re not completely familiar with your industry yet, candidates should know how to use social networks, news clippings, and more to discover background details about prospects

💡 Pro-tip: A strong fit for your company will know the importance of research in prospecting, and they’ll likely have a systematic approach and tactics they can talk you through.

4. How do you motivate yourself, especially after a tough week?

This role is an entry-level position, not a babysitting one. 

The best SDR for your company isn’t a robot who never gets tired or discouraged — they’re a determined person who can motivate themselves without you having to be their cheerleader (it’ll just be a bonus if you are).

No job in sales is easy, especially this one. When you have an SDR on your team who can self-motivate outside of praise from colleagues and management, you can trust them to do their job well when the going gets tough. 

5. How have you adjusted your sales strategy in the past to hit quotas?

This SDR interview question helps you get to the bottom of two important characteristics: adaptability and resourcefulness.

Does your candidate have what it takes to get creative to hit or exceed quotas? What valuable lessons have they learned from their sales strategy? Can they take and incorporate feedback to improve their approach?

You don’t want an SDR who has an undying loyalty to their sales strategy.

🔑 The best hire will understand that, to close more prospects, you have to notice and be proactive about performance shortfalls, seek managerial support and training, increase product knowledge, shift outreach efforts, and more. 

6. Pretend I’m a prospect: Leave me a voicemail.

Feel free to switch up this SDR interview question to assess another aspect of their outreach skills, but always include a simple on-the-spot test to gauge their sales approach.

For your voicemails, you probably want short and personalized messages that get straight to the point and provides contact information — if your SDR candidate rambles or stumbles over words, take note, but just remember that stumbling could be because they’re nervous. 

Ask some follow-up questions when they finish, and be sure to ask yourself if you’re willing to invest in developing this skill further or if you prefer someone who’s a voicemail whiz. 

7. Tell me about your best and worst call experiences. What did you learn?

sdr candidate

Pay extra attention to the “what did you learn?” part of this question to understand the kind of communication skills your SDR candidate will bring to your company — plus, this shows you how aware they are of themselves, too.

Tap into their memories of best and worst and sales calls to see how well they learn from their mistakes and whether they let one accomplishment prevent further progress

This role requires flexibility and adaptability, so a hotshot who doesn’t use each misstep to learn and level up isn’t the team player you want.

8. What common objections have you heard? How did you handle them?

In sales, rejection is often the name of the game, and the SDR you hire needs to know how to embrace the suck. At the very least, they should be willing to learn. 

Use this SDR interview question to learn if they have a process for preparing, handling, and bouncing back from objections. Do they understand it’s inevitable? Do they take it too personally?

Anticipating and preparing for objections is the key to successful phone prospecting. If your candidate thoughtfully tells you how they field objections, you can bet they understand the importance of navigating them well. 

9. What are some questions you ask to qualify prospects?

When you hire an SDR, you trust their ability to judge and evaluate whether a lead becomes a prospect — and the questions they ask are a major part of their success in the sales cycle. 

The SDR who’ll help take you to the top will clearly understand your ideal customer, and they’ll know the right insightful questions to ask to discover if a prospect is worth the investment

Listen for how they gain more clarity around the needs of your target customer and how quickly they act when it’s time to cut the cord. 

10. How do you invest in your skills outside of work?

The sales industry is constantly evolving — there’s no room or time for people who think they can win while remaining stagnant and stuck in old ways. 

Ask your potential SDR how they grow their skills off the company clock to evaluate how hungry they are to learn and succeed. Do they attend webinars and conferences, read books and articles, sign up for workshops, or join business happy hours with colleagues? 

If they’re willing to invest their own time and money into their craft, that’s likely someone you want on your team. 

‘Do you have any questions for me?’

Time to put the spotlight on yourself. 

Yes, you’re the one hiring, but your SDR also needs to decide if they want to work for you. To ensure them you offer a great work environment, open yourself up to questions about benefits, company culture, work expectations, and more. 

This time should also be for them to share any interesting insights they learned during the interview or to ask other questions about how you run your sales team. 

But if they have nothing to ask here… well, that’s not a good sign. 

The lead handoff is a crucial part of the sales process — and fumbling it means you lose out on money. Listen to this episode of the INSIDE Inside Sales podcast with host Darryl Praill to help your new SDRs learn the right way to hand off leads without dropping the ball.  

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