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.
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 12 SDR interview questions you’ll never go wrong with.
- 12 best SDR interview questions to find your next exceptional hire
- 1. Why do you want to sell our product or service?
- 2. Do you like being on the phone regularly?
- 3. What do you look for (and where) when researching a prospect?
- 4. How do you motivate yourself, especially after a tough week?
- 5. How have you adjusted your sales strategy in the past to hit quotas?
- 6. Pretend I’m a prospect: Leave me a voicemail.
- 7. Tell me about your best and worst call experiences. What did you learn?
- 8. What common objections have you heard? How did you handle them?
- 9. What are some questions you ask to qualify prospects?
- 10. How do you prioritize your leads and tasks?
- 11. Can you provide examples of successful prospecting campaigns you have run in the past?
- 12. How do you invest in your skills outside of work?
- ‘Do you have any questions for me?’
- Over to you
12 best SDR interview questions to find your next exceptional hire
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?
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, 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,” that might be a red flag.
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?
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 sales personality traits: 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 provide 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?
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 prioritize your leads and tasks?
As an SDR, it’s important to prioritize your leads and tasks in a way that allows you to effectively and efficiently generate results. This might involve prioritizing high-potential leads or tasks that have strict deadlines. It’s also important to be able to adapt your priorities as necessary, in response to changing circumstances or new information.
When asking this question, you should listen for answers that show your candidate has a clear and structured approach to prioritization. This could involve using tools like Trello or Asana to manage their tasks, or using a specific method for determining which leads or tasks are the most important at any given time.
You should also look for candidates who are able to prioritize their own workload and manage their time effectively, as well as those who are able to work well with their team and prioritize tasks in a way that aligns with the team’s overall goals.
Ultimately, the best candidates for an SDR role will be those who are able to prioritize their leads and tasks effectively, stay organized, and adapt their approach as needed to achieve the best results.
11. Can you provide examples of successful prospecting campaigns you have run in the past?
Asking a candidate for examples of successful prospecting campaigns they have run in the past is a great way to get a sense of their experience and success as an SDR. This can give you insight into their approach to prospecting and their ability to generate results.
When asking this question, you should listen for specific details about the campaigns the candidate has run, including the target audience, the methods they used to reach out to prospects, and the results they achieved. It can also be helpful to ask about any challenges or obstacles the candidate faced during these campaigns and how they overcame them.
Some examples of successful prospecting campaigns that a candidate might mention could include:
A targeted email campaign to a specific industry or role, resulting in a high number of responses and qualified leads
A LinkedIn outreach campaign that resulted in a high conversion rate of leads to meetings
A cold calling campaign that resulted in a high number of appointments set and opportunities generated
It’s important to note that success in prospecting can be difficult to quantify, and what constitutes a “successful” campaign will vary depending on the specific goals and metrics of the campaign. However, by asking for specific examples and details, you can get a sense of the candidate’s approach to prospecting and their ability to generate results.
12. 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.
Over to you
In conclusion, hiring a strong sales development representative (SDR) is crucial for the success of your sales team. Asking the right questions during the interview process can help you identify the best candidates for the job.
Some key areas to focus on include the candidate’s motivation, experience and success in prospecting, ability to handle rejection and objections, and ability to prioritize and manage their workload effectively.
By asking these and other targeted questions, you can find the SDR superstar who will help drive the growth of your bottom line.