Prepare For Your Sales Engineer Interview Questions
By Lisa VanWyk May 5, 2023

29 Questions to Prepare for Sales Engineer Interviews

You’ve been looking for a new position. You’re ready to book a sales engineer interview! Well, get ready with these 29 questions to prepare for sales engineer interviews.

As an engineer, you’re used to getting involved in problem-solving and creating solutions that keep industry, commerce, and the environment working. You dive deep and have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the products and systems you work with.   

Perhaps your last gig didn’t really light your fire. Sometimes just finding solutions is not enough of a challenge.

Passionate about engineering and keen to explain the nitty-gritty details to anyone who’ll listen may not make you the life and soul of the party but that enthusiasm is what drives sales engineers to generate leads and sales for the world’s best industrial and technical enterprises.

Great news, your buddies in the bar may be rolling their eyes again, but your talent for analyzing customer needs and explaining why your solution is the answer to their prayers is worth its weight in gold.

Now just a doggone minute though, you’re an engineer, you don’t do sales.

Well, sales engineers are real engineers and need an appropriate engineering bachelor’s degree.

But they are so much more!  

Prepare For Your Sales Engineer Interview

You have a solution for your prospective employer. Spoiler alert! The solution is you.

Sales engineers are vital to the commercial success of manufacturers and production companies. They understand exactly how the product or service works and how it provides a return on investment (ROI) for customers. They know how the features and benefits stack up to competing products and can explain complex concepts to fellow engineers and the less technically minded alike.

That deep knowledge enables you to think on your feet and gather all the information about the prospect’s business operation and ensure that your company’s product works for them in all respects.

This is not sleazy sales talk, honesty and straight dealing are essential. You’re an engineer and that’s how things work.

Some prospects may be skeptical. It’s a common misunderstanding that sales engineers have a conflict of interest. Most sensible companies understand that selling the wrong product to a client company will cost them far more than they will gain in the long run.

So bear this in mind when your application is accepted and you’re called in for an interview.

Get Into The Head Of Your Interviewer

It’s important to understand the goals and mindset of the people you’ll be talking to. Half the battle is knowing where they are coming from. If they put you on the sales engineer interview shortlist they’re not going to go to the trouble of getting you in and then shoot you down in flames.

They want you to be right for their company. Sure, they’ll want to go beyond the resume and check the depth of your knowledge and understanding of the technical sales process. If you haven’t embellished or been less than honest then you have nothing to worry about.

Remember, this is not just an engineering job and it isn’t just a sales job either. They want to get a feel for how you relate to people and how well you communicate.

They’ll be impressed by occasions when you’ve clearly understood a client’s needs and provided a great solution. This doesn’t have to be a new sale, it may be a support role where you have enhanced customer loyalty by your understanding of a situation.

Networking and keeping up-to-date with technical developments are all part of the role. If you enjoy working with people and building business relationships then this is what they are looking for.

They will want to know the relative value of accounts you’re used to working with. There’s a big difference in the sales and support activity involved in servicing a multimillion-dollar budget compared with a couple of thousand.

Some employers will be looking for someone who can service the needs of hundreds of small clients. Others will want someone who can handle a couple of very big contracts and keep everyone happy. Large value accounts often require a team of sales engineers and other professionals. Teamwork may be an important skill to highlight.

Make sure you know which role you’re going for!  

While we’re talking money, it’s common for sales engineering  positions to be salary plus commission. Many companies will pay a commission of 20% on your yearly salary. If you can sell yourself to interviewers, it will speak volumes for your abilities as a sales engineer!

Behavioral Questions Reveal A Lot About You

These days, the behavioral interview is an important part of a company’s recruitment playbook. Here’s a list of typical sales engineer interview questions that if you can prepare some answers for, will not only put you at the top of the leaderboard but also help you answer some of the more traditional straightforward questions too.

They explore particular aspects of your experience and are giving you the opportunity to show how you have performed and excelled. There is no need to go overboard on these. Be honest and straightforward. Preparation will allow you to summarize briefly and to the point.

Problem Solving

  1. Have you ever had difficulty explaining technical details to a prospect or client? How did you resolve this?
  2. A key potential customer needs a feature that is not part of our product offer. What steps would you take to investigate options and possible solutions?
  3. Have you been in a situation where none of your suggestions are acceptable to a client or prospect? How did it work out in the end?

Communication Ability

  1. Describe a presentation you have recently completed.
  2. What do you do to make sure that your audience has grasped the full extent of complex technical details?
  3. Have you experienced any difficult clients or employees? How did you handle things?
  4. Do you have any procedures or best practices to build new business relationships and maintain existing customer contacts?

Technical Ability

  1. What arguments and explanations could you give to convince a customer of the benefits of our product over a competing product or service.
  2. What CRM software have you used to support your roles?
  3. Are you accustomed to using remote access software? Which services have you used?
  4. Have you got a particular sales initiative that stands out as being your most successful?

Are You a Team Player

  1. Describe a successful sales initiative you worked on. Who did you work with and what was your specific contribution?
  2. Tell us about a time when you worked with a team and things became difficult. What did you learn from this and what changes would you make?
  3. Have there been any occasions when you feel you showed good leadership skills?
  4. What qualities do you look for in your ideal manager?
  5. How would you deal with a situation where you believe that your manager’s targets are unrealistic?

Self Development

  1. What would you do to learn all of the features and benefits of a new product?
  2. Do you have a particular lead-generating success? How did you put it together?
  3. How do you keep yourself abreast of the latest technological advances?
  4. What skills have you learned or improved on in the last year?

Initiative and Confidence

  1. What are some strengths that you feel make you an excellent sales engineer?
  2. Have you ever had any criticism of your work? How did you respond?
  3. What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for you in this role?

Factual Questions That Can Reveal How Much You Want This Job

These sales engineer interview questions are easier to prepare for and if you are serious about landing this job you’ll already know the answers. It may come as no surprise but companies tend to be very proud of their achievements and position in the industry so they’ll expect you to have done some research and be able to share your honest opinions.

  1. Do you feel inspired to succeed at your job by anything in particular?
  2. What can you tell us about this company and its position in the industry?
  3. Which of our recent projects excites you the most
  4. Why are you interested in working at this company?
  5. What particularly interests you about this role?
  6. Do you have any questions for us?

That last one is very important. Make sure you have some questions of your own about the job and the company. It may be useful to ask about how they see your role and what success looks like for them.

Left Field Hard Ball Questions

Of course, you can’t prepare for everything nor should you. There are bound to be some tough questions thrown in, often just to see how you react. Remember, you’re an engineer! Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification and engage with the question. Check the parameters.

Be honest and be yourself.

That’s who they want to see. We hope you have found useful these 29 questions to prepare for sales engineer interviews.

Relax! You got this!