Whether you are soon going on your very first job interview for a SE role, or you have been through a couple over the years, it is wise to understand what types of questions you will be asked in that phone or face-to-face job interview. Not being prepared will likely mean there is no second interview or further conversations. NAASE is sharing a recent article from Indeed about the topic, along with some of our general comments about these questions- and some possible ways to answer.
*These likely/ recommended questions are via Indeed:
In a sales engineer interview, you can expect questions about your experience and general background so an employer can determine if you have the skills and qualifications they’re looking for from a new hire. Here are some questions the hiring manager or hiring committee may ask you:
Discuss your educational experiences with us. Very standard question, regardless of role or company- especially if you are, say, less than 30.
Have you worked professionally in a sales engineer role? There are many people who are now trying to get into the SE field and role; this is simply a way of extracting the key truths.
What companies have you previously worked for?
How have you emerged as a leader in your professional experiences? Even if you haven’t been officially a “manager” or “supervisor”, hopefully there is something you can point to.
What type of work environment do you thrive in?
Have you ever engaged in professional training related to sales engineering? Very important, as most/many SE’s never got a degree in “Sales Engineering”, so many do enroll in some kind of professional training course at some level.
Tell us about a project you worked on that required you to collaborate with others. In many cases, at most companies, collaboration is a key tenet of being a sales engineer.
What sales engineering skills do you have and use regularly?
How might you apply these skills in the sales engineer position? Here, and with the question before, you need to show how you process and how you manage a situation and/or a problem.
Share with us how one of your previous experiences helped you learn a new skill. Most good SE’s are always learning. They are not afraid to try something new, either.
In-depth questions are usually important because they provide additional insight into your credentials and allow interviewers to evaluate whether you are a good fit for the position. Some examples of specific in-depth sales engineer questions they might ask include:
How might you highlight the benefits of our company’s product in relation to other market competitors? This is where it is important to DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you sit for the interview. Understand the product/service well, and a bit about its competitors. You have to be able to speak intelligently about it, to some degree.
How do you explain complex industry terms to current or potential customers? Try to share an example here- from your current or previous role.
Who do you believe we target our products and services to? Again, do your homework.
If asked to give a presentation on our products and services, what might you choose to share? One of the most important parts of the interview. Here also it is wise to show some enthusiasm for their product or service.
How many professional experiences have you had as a sales engineer?
What types of sales engineer technologies are you proficient in? Here you might list or talk about industry-specific technologies and software, or potentially more general sales and/or SE software tools- including CRM related programs.
Do you thrive in independent or collaborative work environments? Be careful how you answer this. How do the SE’s at the potential company work?
What information do you need to know about a current or potential customer before presenting a demo? This also is instrumental to your chances- how you answer this. Sales engineering is often about proper discovery. Show that you are able to ask the right questions at the right time.
Where do you find information about sales engineering trends or emerging research? We hope you say- from the North American Association of Sales Engineers…! ?
How might you handle conflict resolution with a customer or colleague? There will ALWAYS be conflict at some point, in the professional setting. How you go about handling it and getting the job done will help determine if you will be successful.
This article is a re-post of a published Indeed web article, with commentary from the NAASE Executive Board.