Whether you are a car salesperson now and thinking about changing dealerships or if you have decided to enter into a car sales career you will be going through a car salesman interview. Many readers have asked about the interview process and what they can expect during this dialogue between themselves and a future employer. I have written this post to help you get ready for the most critical part of becoming a car sales professional. The interview is a very subjective process and the rules are practically non-existent when it comes to the car business unless the dealership is part of a large dealer group that has a written procedure.
More often than not the person conducting the interview (usually a senior sales manager or General Sales Manager) will not have any formal training in the hiring and interview process. Typically they will ask the types of questions that they were asked when they were interviewed for the job of car salesman. Therefore you need to be prepared for practically anything. I pulled together information from several respected sources in the car business including my own experience to try and give you the most complete overview so you can be ready for your car sales interview.
Objectives of the Car Sales Interview
Your Objective: Your objective will be to get the job as a car salesman or car saleswoman. You will also want to know the commission structure and dealership pay plan including any bonuses for salespeople. You need to know the hours you will have to work and the policies regarding vacation, sick days and benefits. Whether or not they offer a dealer demo may also be important to you. These may be provided during the sales interview as part of the process, but if not they are things you will want to know before you accept an offer if you receive one.
The Interviewers Objective: The interviewer wants to hire the right person that will not only fit into the organization, but one that they feel will perform the duties of car salesperson on a consistent basis. They want to select the person that they feel will sell lots of cars and provide a favorable experience for their customers. They want you to succeed because your success will also be their success.
What to Expect in the Sales Interview
I wish I could tell you exactly what to expect in your interview, but I can’t. It can be like the Wild West when it comes to the different styles and personalities of the people that you will be talking to during the hiring process. I have heard stories that require the applicant to sell them a pen or to tell them the features and benefits of the phone sitting on the desk. I don’t know what that has to do with selling cars for a living, but maybe you can get an idea of what I am saying about not knowing what to expect.
The person conducting the interview should be experienced when it comes to reading people because that’s what a successful car salesman does. So the best approach to getting through the process and receiving an offer is to be straightforward, positive and enthusiastic. They will want you to open up and talk about yourself and your experiences in an effort to learn more about you, the same way we sell cars. The more you talk the more they can learn and understand what makes you tick.
The Interview Process
Once you meet and exchange pleasantries the interviewer will probably give you a short overview and history of the dealership. From there they will start asking you questions about your work history and other information that was contained in your application. If there are any gaps in employment or anything else that seems us unusual they will ask for an explanation and then ask why you left. Your answers will reveal more about than you know so be careful with your answers.
If you never sold cars before don’t worry because some dealers prefer to hire people that they can train their way rather have to break any bad habits or practices that they don’t like. They may ask what you liked about your last job and what you disliked about your job. At some point during the car salesman interview they will want to know why you want to sell cars. Give them an honest answer because they have been where you are now and they know how it works. A lame story about making the auto sales profession better or some other B.S. won’t cut it here.
A good car salesman and especially a Sales Manager can smell B.S. a mile away so there is no sense trying bullsh*t a bullsh*tter. If you are motivated by money then the car business is the place. The entire profession of selling cars is based on performance and money, which is why a six-figure income selling cars is possible.
Now if you sold cars at another dealership they will ask about the dealer and how things were done. They are going to listen closely to you when you tell them things about the last dealership and get idea of how you operate and how you think. They will ask how many cars you sell per month average, what kind of grosses your deals have and they may even ask about your closing ratio. If you have been selling cars it will shop talk. However you should keep one thing in mind, people sometimes go from dealer to dealer over the years so your interviewer may know someone from your last dealership. You would be surprised how many people you get to know over the years from other dealerships. Then the big question, why do you want to leave your current dealer and work here? You better have an answer and a good one. You don’t have to make it up, but it should be one that makes sense.
Car Sales Interview Questions
Here are some of the questions you may be asked during your car sales interview beyond the standard interview questions. There aren’t any right or wrong answers here because every one that interviews people for a car sales position have a different idea of what is good or bad. Use some common sense when you answer the questions and try to put yourself in their place. If you were in their position would you hire you? Think about how you would answer some of these interview questions to get ready for your interview.
Interview Question If You Never Sold Cars:
Why do you want to sell cars?
Why did you apply to our dealership?
Why did you leave your last job?
Do you consider yourself a people person?
Do you think you could be a successful car salesman or woman?
How do you feel about the amount of work hours in the car business?
Do you know a lot about (brand they sell) cars?
Do you have any hobbies?
Do you think you would be good at selling?
Have you ever worked on commission?
Would you rather sell new cars or used cars?
Do you get along with people?
Are you a goal-oriented person?
What did you like about your last job?
What did you dislike about your last job?
What would your coworkers at your last job say about you?
Do you mind working a few extra hours from time to time?
Where would you like to see yourself in five years, ten years?
What motivates you? (Money and competition are good answers)
My Favorite: Why should I hire you?
I could come up with more, but you get the idea.
Interview Questions If You Sold Cars Previously:
How many cars do you sell a month on average?
Do you like selling cars?
How do you feel about working on commission?
Do you prefer to sell new or used?
How many hours did you work a week at the last dealer?
What was you closing percentage?
Do you set monthly sales goals?
Do you achieve your monthly goals?
How did you get along with your sales managers?
What kind of bonus did you get on a regular basis?
How did you get along with the other sales people?
How often do you sell repeat customers?
How often do you get referral customers?
Which parts of the sales process do you like the best?
Have you thought about getting out of the car business?
Have you sales gone up or down in the last couple years?
Have your grosses gone up or down in the last couple years?
What is your average gross?
How often does a sales manager close behind you?
How many ups do you usually get a month?
My favorite interview question: Why should I hire you for my sales team?
Once again I could come up with more questions to ask someone that was selling at another dealership, but you can see that knowing your numbers is important.
After reading all the above car sales interview questions you can see that the person controlling the discussion is trying to learn more about you than simply getting answers. They can get a good idea of the real you when they get you to talk.
Tips for a Successful Car Salesman Interview
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with all the possibilities that you may encounter in your car salesman interviewer, but you will do much better if you are prepared. Some of the traits of an effective car salesman are the ability to adapt to any situation and to have an answer for every question even if the answer is left me find out for you. Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are essential when if comes to being a success and especially when you sell cars so it’s only natural that the same will serve you well during you car sales interview.
You may or may not get the job offered to you during the sales interview. Actually most dealerships will thank you for coming in and call you if you made the cut. Sometimes it could take a few days to a week or two. If you don’t get the call don’t give it a second thought, just apply to the next dealership. Interviewers can vary greatly from car dealer to car dealer so don’t take personally, maybe they didn’t like the color of your shirt or you remind them of somebody they don’t like. If you want to sell cars then apply at the next and the next and the next dealership until you get your shot.
Please add you tips, stories and nightmares about car sales interviews in the comments below.
Later, Fresh Up on the Lot
Get the Job and Read the Car Salesman Book