10 Questions to Ask SDR Candidates to Identify the Best New Hires


The hiring process is never an easy one. Finding the right candidates can prove to be a challenge in even the best conditions, and right now, the market isn’t exactly in the best shape. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to set yourself up for success, including just that—setting yourself up. 

Part of that comes in educating yourself on how to find the best candidates and what kind of interview questions you’ll want to use to figure out who the best fit for your team will be. The sales cycle is longer than ever before and that requires more planning for touchpoints, as well as hiring the absolute best Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). Here are 10 questions that can help with that. 

1. Why did you apply for this role specifically?

This will allow you to see what people think of your company, as well as what they expect from the role. If you’re not advertising positions correctly, it will help you see where you’re going wrong and can make changes to ensure that you get the right people for the position. It can also help you see how much research people did in preparation for the interview. 

2. Tell me about a setback or defeat—how did you handle it and what was the outcome?

This is a really valuable question for anyone in sales. It’s not about how many sales you’ve made, but how many objections and hurdles you’ve overcome. Ask people about how they have overcome a specific setback or obstacle in their career, and how they’ve prepared to avoid that same issue in the future. 

3. What interests you about selling our product(s)?

Again, this ensures that your SDRs have done their homework and are ready to offer their skills to your company. It will also help you weed out anyone who might just be looking for any sales job they can find and didn’t bother to research your company specifically. These people might be valuable, but if they’re not taking the time to learn about the role, does that speak much to their “go-getter” nature that you need in your sales team?

4. Pretend that I’m a prospect; demonstrate and explain our product to me. 

Everyone can use a real-life example in an interview. It’s critical in understanding how people present themselves as SDRs and what they already know of the sales process. It will also ensure that even if they aren’t solid on the product details yet, they at least have the presentation and persuasion skills needed to get results. It’s a great way to coach candidates, too, by the way, so keep it on hand for future use. 

5. What is the most difficult thing you’ve done in your career?

This is another way to see how people view themselves and the things they’ve overcome. If you’ve got a $5 million customer base and the hardest sale they’ve ever had was only about $2,000, they might not be ready to play at your level just yet. It also shows you how they approach hard things and whether they’re resilient enough to overcome or if they will crack under pressure. You want SDRs that can stand up to the pressure of today’s highly competitive sales world. 

6. When was the last time you learned a new skill? What was it like?

The world of sales is constantly changing and evolving. Your team has to grow along with it. If you don’t ask your SDR candidates about their learning capabilities, you could miss out on an important skill. You need people who can learn new things quickly and who are open to learning because the industry never stays the same. 

The “what was it like” portion allows you to let them self-assess and show you that they understand their own learning styles and the value of acquiring new skills. 

7. How would you go about qualifying a prospect?

This is another way to get more insight into how they work in the sales role. Ask how they’d qualify a prospect, either based on generic information or with a specific example. In either case, you’ll get a chance to see what they would do to get a lead on the hook. Even if they’re not exactly perfect at it, you can at least see if their ideals align with yours and if they’ll be a good fit for the role. 

8. How did you prepare for the interview?

This is the chance to be straight with them and allow them to be straight with you—of course, you expect them to have prepared for the interview. Did they research your company? Did they check out your sales trends? Perhaps they took the time to learn about what your SDRs do on the daily so that they could better adapt to the role. In any case, ask them what they’ve done and how it helped them. 

9. What do you anticipate being the most common objections and how would you handle them?

The best SDRs can think on their feet and are always looking ahead—they want to solve the problem before it arises. Therefore, asking your candidates what they anticipate in the way of objections shows that they’re thinking realistically and not through rose-colored glasses when it comes to lead prospecting and making deals as part of your company. 

10. What assets or skills do you have that you think we will most benefit from?

This is a great way for you to learn two things: how they see themselves, and what assets they think will help them stand out and sell themselves to your company.  It also allows you to test their confidence—the SDRs that hem and haw about their assets and skills could use a little more of a boost in many cases. You want confident people on your sales team. 

Or, consider outsourcing your sales, admin, and communication needs when you partner with Smith.ai 

If you’re not ready to hire, consider outsourcing instead. The 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can assist with all kinds of outbound sales and support, along with scheduling, lead intake, and so much more. Schedule a consultation to learn more or reach out to us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484.

Business Education
Sales Tips
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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