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 future employers. I have written this post to help you prepare for the most critical part of becoming a car sales professional. The interview is subjective, and the rules are practically non-existent for the car business unless the dealership is part of a large dealer group with 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 hiring and interview process training. Typically they will ask the types of questions they were asked when they were interviewed for the car salesman job. 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 a complete overview so you can be ready for your car salesman interview.
Objectives of the Car Salesperson Interview
Your Objective: Your objective will be to get a job as a car salesperson. You will also want to know the commission structure and dealership pay plan, including any bonuses for salespeople. You must know the hours you must work and the vacation, sick days, and benefits policies. 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 interviewer’s 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 a car salesperson consistently. 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 Car 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 regarding the different styles and personalities of the people 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 (that car salesman interview trick is about creating urgency). I don’t know what that has to do with selling cars for a living, but maybe you can understand what I am saying about not knowing what to expect.
The person conducting the car salesman interview should be experienced when reading people because that’s what a successful car salesperson does. So the best approach to getting through the process and receiving an offer is straightforward, positive, and enthusiastic. They will want you to open up and talk about yourself and your experiences 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 Sales 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 improving the auto sales profession or some other B.S. won’t cut it here.
Who Performs the Car Salesman Interview
A good car salesman interviewer, 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 are possible.
Now if you sold cars at another dealership, they will ask about the dealer and how things were done. They will listen closely to you when you tell them things about the last dealership and get an idea of how you operate and think. They will ask how many cars you sell per month on average and what kind of grosses your deals have, and they may even ask about your closing ratio. If you have been selling cars, it will be shop talk. However, you should keep in mind that 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 is, 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 make sense.
Car Salesman Interview Questions
Here are some of the salesperson interview questions you may be asked during your car salesman interview beyond the standard interview questions. There aren’t any right or wrong answers here because everyone interviewing people for a car sales position has 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 them? Consider how you would answer some of these car interview questions to prepare for your interview.
Interview Questions for a Sales Position 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 number of work hours in the car business?
Do you know a lot about (the 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 for a Salesman 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 for the car salesperson that is interviewing that has sold cars at another dealership, but you can see that knowing your sales and closing numbers is essential. After reading the above car salesman 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. The sales interview questions and answers are less important than expected. Often this is simply a way to get you to open up and talk.
Auto Sales Interview Tips for a Successful Interview
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with all the possibilities you may encounter in your car salesman interview, but you will do much better if you are prepared. A practical car salesman’s traits are the ability to adapt to any situation and to have an answer to every question, even if the answer requires you to find out for your customer. Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are essential when if comes to being a success and mainly when you sell cars. Hence, it’s only natural that the same will serve you well during your car sales interview.
You may or may not get the job offered during the sales interview. Most dealerships would 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; apply to the following dealership. The car interview technique can vary greatly from car dealer to car dealer, so don’t take it 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 your tips, stories and nightmares about a car salesman interview in the comments section below.
Later, Fresh Up on the Lot
Get the Job and Read the Car Salesman Book
blaine · August 14 at 5:54 pm
I have an interview in a week for a sales position and I am extremely nervous. Interviews always cause my anxiety to shoot through the roof solely because I am a person that likes to be in control. I am a leader. Being interviewed makes me feel like the underdog; the person that can be manipulated or molded into what they want. I almost go into interviews wanting to interview them myself lol. Based on the few articles like this one that I have read, going in there and being my blunt self is the best thing I can do. How much do you think it would throw off my interviewer if I came in there with a binder and a note book with all my own questions I want to ask them? Haha.
Travis Meyer · July 18 at 11:09 am
I just wanted to add the ABSOLUTE biggest thing I have found out. basically guaranteeing the job. is make them know you are all about the money. I don’t care if you love cars or if your uncle sold for a living no one would be in the car business if there wasn’t a good opportunity to make money. too long of hours. and if you are driven and hungry to make money the managers will see themselves making money off of you as well. and after all that is the goal isn’t it? most people think that sounds rude or too upfront but I have landed 5 dealership sales positions off of selling myself first. (even with an honestly horrible work history) all because they see me as an opportunity to make money because I make it clear my entire goal is to make money. again if you make money they make money. Happy selling!
JP · April 18 at 5:29 pm
I have my first interviews tomorrow for Car Sales Rep Professional position. I have a masters degree (and BA) in psych, and HR, and have customer service/light sales experience. This site/blog has helped me immensely, as have some others (I’ve been reading them for hours. Being HR is my forte, I would like to add that it is possible to OVER PREPARE! yup. That’s right! You do not want your answers to be memorized or sound rehearsed, but rather casual and like you are thinking on your feet and adapting. Now that’s a generalized fact in interviewing, I will find tomorrow if it works in the Car Sales interview as well. I honestly do not even have an interview confirmed. I need a career change, and decided this is what I could do best at, and would enjoy doing, so this is what I’m going for. I’m 40, and still looking for that perfect fit. I’m an eternal optimist so I believe it exists. I am just going to an auto mall in PA and walking into 13 dealerships that are there, COLD, and asking if the manager has some time to talk about a possible available sales rep position,. I think this shows confidence, initiative and the ability to show I can sell by “selling myself”. I manage a golf course, and customer service and sales are everything thats meaningful about the job both to me and the company. I’ve already smashed the membership sales of the previous manager (and the season just started! I sold more before the season started for the upcoming year than he did IN AN ENTIRE YEAR!). So, yes, I am confident I can do this. Now I just have to make a sales manager confident in me as well. I will check back in and let you know how it goes. Thank you for your help. If I forget to check back in, please email me in a couple weeks, in case I forget to follow up with your site. It would be my pleasure after all the help you’ve already given me. Take care, and thank you!
Kent · March 7 at 9:32 am
Hello – I’ve just recently walked into the car sales profession – love it so far and found this website after the fact. Now that I’m here – I have a few comments to make regarding the professionalism of a store.
There are several sales and administrative staff that smoke, chew, spit, litter, hack up all sorts of nastiness throughout the day, “vape” (in-doors), pass gas in the most sophomoric fashion, etc., etc., etc.
I know this is perfectly normal behavior in this day and age, and not to be a thing that exists within my paradigm as a venue of excuses when I can’t seem to sell anything on the lot.
Having said that, what do I need to do when it comes to the point at which I would like to move on to a more professional store with more professional people? –
The reason I ask is because several points that this website makes regarding the appearance, smell, professionalism, etc., make a good case about the way in which the customer needs to come to a place smacking of professionalism so there isn’t an initial objection in the way when they walk on the lot to see a group of sales-guys and gals smoking like a chimney just a few steps away from the entrance – one third of the management team participates in this behavior as well, but the consensus from the management is that any complaint regarding all of what I’ve written here in this reply section, is entirely bs excuses on my part and I should just shut the **** up and get out there and move the inventory!!
So, again, what obligations do the owners/management have to me, the salesman, and the overall professional presentation of the store/property?
Everything that was presented to me in the initial three day seminar (a well known consultant was hired on the dealership’s behalf) and all of what I read on-line regarding this industry, indicate that it matters a whole bunch, yet it’s the least of this store’s concern.
I think, correct me if I’m wrong, I should be able to ask a few questions regarding this line of reasoning, and I think also that the owner/management should believe that my role as a professional salesman is worth supporting by wanting their staff and storefront to look, smell, and appear in all manners, as professional as possible. Just sayin’.
Andre · January 31 at 1:35 pm
I read this blog entry the night before my interview. I went in there and showed confidence regardless of what I was feeling. I have no sales experience. I just followed these blog tips. Basically my interviewer goes, “So tell me about yourself.” I tell him. Then he says, “Why do you want to sell cars?” I tell him I like the idea of “The harder I work, the more money I can make.” No matter how hard I work at a minimum wage job I’m still going to make 9/hr. And I dont like that. He told me he had 2 guys he was planning on hiring that day and said that I had just fucked those guys off. His exact words. I aced the interview!!! It was the easiest interview I ever done. No bs questions or answers just to the point. I want to make money!! Im going to try my hardest to succeed in this business, learn from the best and do whatever it takes. Im pretty excited. Im from California btw.
Dan Campo · October 2 at 1:54 pm
At the end of the interview let them know you want the job. Show interest. If not offered the job on the spot wait a day and call about the position. Do not wait for a call. It’s a sales position…..show some desire. Sell yourself