SDR Interview Questions

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SDR Interview Questions

To use a war analogy, Sales Development Representatives (SDRs or "Reps") are the true "front line" of your sales team- so choosing the right ones to represent your brand is critical to building an effective sales organization. The SDR is responsible for initial contact with prospects, but they're also tasked with maintaining the relationship until the prospect indicates their interest in becoming a lead by scheduling a time to chat with sales. These "Reps" play one of the most important roles in any sales organization as they drive sales growth through targeted outreach- nurturing conversations, qualifying leads, and setting the stage for successful deals.

Finding the right SDR for your team is a balance of three primary factors:

  1. Hard work
  2. Grit
  3. Cultural Fit

The life of an SDR is not easy. Often it takes 50- 100 LinkedIn messages, 100 emails, and several hundred cold calls to get a meaningful conversation going. SDR success is measured on a full-funnel approach, meaning they're rated on "activities," "opportunities created," and "revenue contributed."  With such high quotas, the SDR must have grit and resilience to overcome rejection and continue prospecting for leads even after what feels like repeated failures.

Additionally, SDR needs to be a cultural fit with your team. This involves assessing their communication style and skills, ability to work in a fast-paced environment, and passion for the product or service being sold. But it's not limited to that- the SDR needs to have an outreach style that matches your brand's culture. This is a much bigger topic that we can revisit in a later setting. In essence, you're looking for a driven, resilient individual.

Now that we've established the importance of finding the right SDR, let's dive into some common SDR interview questions to find the right fit for your team.

Best SDR Interview Questions to Assess Their Outreach Strategy:

  1. Walk me through your initial outreach process. How do you approach LinkedIn messaging, cold calling, and emailing to engage prospects in meaningful conversations?
  2. Can you share a specific time when you experienced a particularly impactful rejection in your outreach efforts? How did you handle it and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. How do you prioritize leads and determine which ones are most likely to convert into opportunities?
  4. What strategies do you use to personalize your outreach and tailor it to each prospect?
  5. Share with me a successful outreach campaign that you've executed. What made it successful and how did you measure its success?

These are important questions to ask an SDR in an interview as they will inform you whether this person likes a "spray and pray" approach or is focused on strategic relationship building- which will be important to your brand equity with prospects.

SDR interview prep should include more than just traditional "interview questions." Consider adding in a role-play scenario where the candidate can showcase their skills in real time. Maybe this is a workflow where you have them walk through an example outreach from LinkedIn message to email, and finally a cold call. Another great way to assess their skills is to provide them with case studies or sample outreach emails to critique. This will give you insight into their critical thinking skills, thought processes, and approach to outreach.

My old sales manager used to say, "Pursuit without value puts off prospects," so the interview questions you ask can help you judge if this person is doing the work for the metrics or because they genuinely care. If you're struggling to come up with SDR interview questions that get results, check out our interview intelligence library. We have more than 1000 questions tailored to help you find top talent for your key roles.

Entry-Level SDR Interview Questions

In this section, we're going to go deeper into one specific role, the entry-level SDR, to guide you through the process of creating interview questions and answers to identify your best candidates. Entry-level SDR interview questions will primarily focus on the candidates' learning agility, potential, coachability, work ethic, and culture fit. Keep in mind that the entry-level SDR likely lacks extensive on-the-job experience. So, it's important to look beyond the initial interview question and assess their responses for a strong desire to learn and grow in this role.

Entry-level SDR Interview Questions and Answers:

  1. What initially piqued your interest in becoming an SDR?

Response: "I initially became interested in an SDR role during my final year of school. I worked on a team project developing and pitching a digital marketing solution to local businesses. This experience sparked my passion for technology and sales, and I saw the impact of well-structured outreach in opening doors, fostering relationships, and working with local businesses. I enjoyed the challenges and look forward to using the skills I learned in a real-world sales environment."

This response shows that the candidate has a well-thought-out reason for pursuing the SDR role and has some understanding of the key responsibilities and challenges it will bring. They also have a history of working in a fast-paced, tech-based, sales environment which means they could be beneficial to your team.

  1. How do you handle rejection in a sales role?

Response: "I believe that rejection is just part of the process, especially in sales. I understand that not every prospect will be interested or ready to make a purchase, but I see each rejection as an opportunity to learn and improve my approach to the next prospect. I also make sure to never take rejection personally and focus on the overall goal of generating opportunities and contributing to revenue."

This response shows that the candidate has a resilient attitude towards rejection, an important quality for an SDR. They also understand the importance of continuous improvement and staying focused on their goals.

Asking well-thought-out interview questions is only one half of the equation. Being able to read the candidate's responses and identify the difference between rehearsed answers and internal motivations is the other half. This is where interview intelligence software can be a game changer.

Pillar's AI-powered interview intelligence software piggybacks on your SDR interviews and scores candidates based on tonal changes, micro-expressions, and other factors that human eyes may miss. This gives you deeper insight into their personality, motivations, and potential to succeed in the role.

SDR Interview Questions And Answers

Let's dive deeper into SDR interview questions and answers to cover topics like Software as a Service (SaaS) specific examples, and hiring SDRs at different levels. Example SaaS SDR Interview Questions could be, "How long was the sales cycle in your last role? Could you have made it shorter without losing effectiveness?" "What did you do to stand out against the competition in a crowded marketplace?" or "How have you used social proof in your outreach efforts before?". These questions will help you assess the candidate's understanding and experience with SaaS sales techniques and timelines.

Another important topic to cover in SDR interviews is hiring at different levels. For example, imagine you're interviewing for a Senior SDR role or an SDR Manager. In that case, your questions will need to focus more on a candidate's ability to lead and help others generate results than their outreach strategy. SDR manager interview questions could be anything from, "Tell me about your last SDR team. In a given year, how many quarters did your team hit their goals?" or "What's your approach to motivating and supporting underperforming team members?".

Remember, the key to a successful SDR interview is finding the right balance between technical questions and behavioral-based questions. You want to assess not only their skills but also their fit with your company culture and their potential for growth within the role. Well-crafted, thoughtful SDR interview questions can be a lifesaver in separating qualified and unqualified candidates.

Preparing For An SDR Interview

Now that we've covered questions to consider, let's turn our attention to SDR interview prep itself. Preparing for an SDR interview is two-fold, the first aspect to consider is your company and the second is the candidate. Now, this may seem like an oversimplification but we could write a book on strategies for building company, brand, and industry-specific interview questions and the common mistakes made when hiring an SDR- my guess is, if you wanted a book you would have searched for one! So we will keep it simple and actionable.

SDR Interview Questions - Thought-process.

  1. Research the candidate: Take a look at their resume, LinkedIn, and any other publicly available information. More than likely you will find something in common with the candidate, whether it's a shared alma mater or a similar career path. Use this to your advantage during the interview by building rapport and connecting with the candidate.
  2. Research your industry: Understand what makes your company unique and why someone would want to work for you as an SDR. Showcase your company culture and values to the candidate in a way that will excite them about the opportunity.
  3. Understand the role: Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the SDR role entails, including key responsibilities, expectations, and desired qualifications. This will help guide your questions during the interview and ensure that you are assessing candidates accurately.
  4. Timeline and next steps: Be transparent about the timeline and next steps in the hiring process. This will help set expectations for both you and the candidate and show that you value their time and interest in the role.

We have one final tip in closing. If you can combine a semi-structured interview process with behavioral interview questions, you'll be able to assess candidates objectively and measure the success of your hires. Transitioning to this mindset will allow you to remove "gut-based" decisions and biases from the interview process and build a truly objective hiring process that attracts top talent.

If you'd like to see more tips, check out the ebooks and guides section of our blog, or book a demo to see how interview intelligence software can help you make better hiring decisions. Happy Hiring!