Business Developer Interview Questions
Career Evolution: From Making Market Research Phone Calls to Business Development Specialist
By the Monster Career Coach
Akila is 29 years old and lives in Calgary, Alberta. She started her career working for a firm that calls people at home to ask them market research survey questions. Today she is one of their top Business Development Specialists. Her job makes use of her abilities to listen well and provide her customers with what they actually need.
Our previous article on Akila Zaffra* covered her actual career shift. This one focuses on the questions and responses from her job interview for the entry-level position of Business Developer.
Monster Career Coach: Hi again, Akila. Thank you for returning for an encore. When you interviewed for the position of Business Developer it was with the company you had worked at already for about two and a half years. Can you tell us about some of the questions they asked you for this new job?
Akila Zaffra: It was great that the company had requested that I apply for this job, which was a real change from my role as Market Research Surveyor. They went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and started off with some easier questions, like what I thought about the company in general, and how others there might describe me as a co-worker.
Monster Career Coach: How did they start asking you about your shift from Market Research Surveyor to Business Developer?
Akila Zaffra: The first question along those lines was something like “Tell us about your desire to work in a sales role here at our company.” I answered by saying I was interested in business development because it would give me a chance to build on all the skills I’d been using in my previous roles working here, and it would be an opportunity to make a real difference to the company’s customers and to the success of the firm overall.
Monster Career Coach: What did they ask you next?
Akila Zaffra: They said “What do you see as the key traits you possess that would enable you to excel in sales?” I talked a bit about how much I enjoyed speaking to all different kinds of people and had a track record here at the company of solving problems, taking initiative, and creating positive relationships.
Monster Career Coach: Did they key in on the fact that you were making a significant shift in roles and that this might be problematic if not addressed properly?
Akila Zaffra: Yeah, they asked me what I would do to make sure I would succeed as a Business Developer because many of the responsibilities were new to me. I told them I would read all I could about sales, I would work closely with the mentor they assigned me, I’d attend any course on selling that they wanted me to go on, and that I would tell my boss early on if I felt I was having difficulties adapting to the new job or if I felt I needed added support to help me stay on top of things.
Monster Career Coach: Was there a question they asked where you feel you could have improved on your reply somewhat?
Akila Zaffra: For sure. They asked me what kind of barriers I thought I might face in becoming a thriving salesperson for them. I guess I wanted to show that I was really confident I could do the job, so I sort of said that I didn’t think there were any obstacles I couldn’t handle if the company was behind me. Later one of the interviewers, my new boss, shared with me that she had expected me to be more specific with that answer, like maybe mentioning that I’d have to better understand how we arrive at final pricing for a customer, or who to turn to for product information on a moment’s notice.
The interviewers were actually trying to find out how they could best prepare me for my new role. So I needn’t have been hesitant to admit I’m not perfect.
Monster Career Coach: In your opinion, what persuaded the interviewers most that you were ready for this shift in positions?
Akila Zaffra: Definitely my excitement got their attention. They really liked that I was willing to work with them any way possible to ensure that the move worked out for everyone. Also I had done a little research before the interview, meeting with a couple of salespeople from our company and asking them for their insights. This made a big difference for me and also it impressed the interviewers.
Monster Career Coach: What advice might you give to others who are going for interviews as they make a switch into entry-level business development roles?
Akila Zaffra: Make sure you do your best to understand the product or service offered and types of customers you’ll be selling to. You want to be able to talk about this confidently. And zoom in on your transferable selling skills. In my case, my experience as a Market Research Surveyor helped me develop patience when dealing with all types of people, and also an ability to make people feel comfortable.
Selling is a lot like having a bunch of conversations with people who are relying on you to meet their needs and give them a fair deal. That’s why I love what I do here so much. It’s like every day I get to make other people’s lives just a little bit easier.
*Note: Actual name altered by request.