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Our guides for employers and candidates on how to navigate the entry-level job market.

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Sales Roles

How to hire a graduate for a Sales role

Candidate profile:

A highly confident, target-driven and energetic individual with excellent communication skills and ambition.

Sales is largely based on personality, skills and attitude so degree type is not important.

Top skills:

  1. Rapport building
  2. Confidence
  3. Ambition
  4. Negotiation
  5. Speaking on the phone

Non-office experience

  • Front of house or retail work will have provided good experience in building up communication skills and conversing with clients.
  • If the candidate has been a captain or member of the sports team this is likely to show that the candidate has the competitive edge required for a sales role.
  • Someone who has worked since a young age is likely to have a good work ethic and drive.

Office experience

  • Previous experience in sales is a huge bonus! Remember that graduates are very adaptable and can be trained up quickly though so this is not essential.
  • Experience in telesales, customer service or account management are a good indicator since it shows that the candidate has experience in building rapport with clients.
  • Any experience in marketing or advertising means that the candidate has experience in selling a product.

Green flag

  • Someone who is results orientated and enjoys speaking on the phone

Red flag

  • A candidate who lacks confidence and crumbles under pressure

At interview

  • You should be looking to test the candidate’s selling ability and confidence by asking them to sell you a product in the interview – you can be as imaginative as you like here! Don’t expect their pitch to be perfect though – you’re looking to see how well candidates react under pressure and how persuasive they are naturally.
  • It’s also common to ask your candidates to give an example of a time they persuaded someone to do something they weren’t initially planning on doing.
  • Aim to ask questions that will show a candidate’s persistence and resilience (or lack of), as these are key attributes needed in order to succeed in this role. Ask them quick-fire questions and put them under pressure.
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