Interviewing Tip For Sales: Don’t Discount Early Work Experience


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Interviewing for a new job can often be a stressful experience. Did you wear the right kind of outfit? Will you say the right things? Are you the kind of candidate they are looking for? It has been a tremendous learning experience for me being able to be the person “on the other side of the table”. My favorite question to ask during the interview process has to be how they feel their previous professional/educational experiences would apply to a sales position.

When thinking about how I would answer that question myself, it got me recalling my entire past job experiences. You know, those summer jobs you had as a young teen, those jobs that would never see the light of day on your current resume. How did those jobs, however long ago I may have held them, help to influence the BDR I am today but also the kind of job I would want to end up in? Well, I’ll tell you!

My first “paycheck” job was probably my most challenging to date. At 13, I decided to work at a summer school for elementary school children. I was a teaching assistant in a kindergarten class with 20 five year olds….all day…for 8 weeks. There were crying kids, whining kids, kids who didn’t speak English. They were hot, they were hungry, they were tired, and it was nonstop. From this experience I learned a tremendous amount of patience. It’s that same acquired patience that I take into every job I have had since. Patience goes a long way in the cold calling industry and in any work environment. Whether you are on a bad call, anxiously awaiting a new list, or waiting to hear back from a prospect, it helps to just breathe and know that you have an awesome staff that’s looking out for you. Suffice to say my early childhood education career ended then and there.

Next I spent two summers in an awesomely glamorous job working in the guest services department at a water park. I showed up to work every day looking like I’d fallen out of a Tommy Bahama catalog and I was responsible for renting lockers, strollers, life jackets, you name it. Overall, they were menial tasks, lots of “hurry up and wait”, varying busyness at peak times during the day. Despite working at what seemed like a mindless job, I learned the type of environment I could thrive in, and that was one that placed a lot of emphasis on a positive culture. I will never forget the manager in our department who encouraged all of us to be ourselves and to not only get the job done, but also have a few laughs (in bright red tropical shirts it’s hard not to laugh).

It is important to not discount professional experiences that you had in your youth. If you are interviewing for an inside sales or business development role be thoughtful to your answers on this question. It not only shows that you have an understanding of the job you are applying for but also gives the interviewer great insight into whether or not you would be able to fit in with their culture. So what is your favorite question when interviewing potential candidates?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kim Staib
I am a Business Development Representative for AGSalesworks, assisting both SMB and Enterprise level accounts in multiple industries.


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