Sales hirers are smart. The best have succeeded in the trenches. They’ve outfoxed the competition, overcome objections and risen to the top. You need to be prepared to satisfy them. Quench their thirst for over quota performers by avoiding the most common mistake sales candidates make; and by having answers ready for the questions they will ask during the interviewing process.

The next time you’re asked a challenging or thought provoking, open-ended question by a prospective employer keep your cool. Chill. Then respond.

Think about the question. If you’re not sure exactly what the hiring authority is “looking for”, answer the (vague?) question with a question. For instance…”So, Johnny tell me about yourself” is one of the most frequent and difficult questions to answer. Your most effective reply? “Sure, I’d love to Brad… where would you like me to start?” Don’t be afraid to qualify your “buyer” at every opportunity. This type of question, often asked at the beginning of an interview, will disarm the person asking and level-set the meeting.

But job-seekers that get offers don’t stop there. They also avoid the most common mistake sales applicants make. A-Players know when to shut up. If you hear the VP Sales butting in on you before you are finished answering his question, it’s usually because you are talking too much. Salespersons love to talk about themselves. I get it. I do too… but it’s never advisable to ramble in an interview setting.

In fact, the single most important word to keep in mind as you interact is….pause. Pause early and pause often. Let the conversation breathe. As you practice pausing, your mind takes over and your mouth closes. Your words become more powerful. Verbose speakers lose value. You want attention paid to your words. Choose them carefully.

Additionally, be prepared to speak about the details – cold, hard facts – regarding your sales track record. My clients want specific accounts, dollar size, persons sold to, when, where and how. It’s okay for them to ask you vague questions (we’ve already solved that crime) but it’s not okay for you to reply with vague answers. Questions aimed at your personnel achievements demand real-world, factual responses.

This week an industry-leading SaaS employer in the DTC rejected an otherwise stellar sales candidate because her answers were “too generic”. It does not matter what your resume says. That was your door opener. Now that you’re on stage you need to have your facts and figures handy. If you don’t the hiring authority uses your lack of clarity as a red flag.

Why believe someone (you just met) did something if that job-seeker cannot recall, recite and articulate details? No good reason. Clear, concise data supports your case. Rehearse if you’d like.  Write down the biggest, best deals you’ve closed before the interview. Be prepared and be powerful.