A business development job interview can be viewed as just another sales call, except this time, candidates have to sell themselves. Turning up on time, dressing smartly, and making a good first impression - with a firm hand shake and eye contact - will be a good start.
Being careful to sell skills and experience effectively and confidently is, of course, important - but care also needs to be taken to avoid straying into arrogance when doing so.
Employers will be looking for a people person, who has superb communication skills, and the ability to establish rapport quickly with anyone. They will also be looking for evidence of an ability to perform under pressure and work well in a team environment to complete goals.
Our recruiters in the sales, marketing and customer services sectors outline their top interview prep tip in the video below:
Information for business development candidates
Those working in business development roles will be responsible for creating and acting on a funnel of high quality prospects, and maybe also for analysing and planning whether the business should enter into new markets. If so, they will need to have planning, analytical and project management skills to create and implement new strategies, and then break down whether the efforts are successful or not.
Candidates in these roles will usually communicate and sell to clients directly, so will also need the sales skills required to turn prospects into customers and clients, in both face-to-face and over the phone situations. They will also need to be comfortable pitching and presenting to clients on a regular basis.
Sales people will be expected to come across as confident and comfortable communicating their strengths, but shouldn’t be afraid to show a few nerves, as this will reveal their human side, show they care about the job, and are not simply reeling off a rehearsed sales pitch. Being too slick can make others feel uncomfortable.
A selection of common interview questions business development candidates face is listed below.
Business development interview questions
Most interview questions can be broken down into a variety of experience, preference, and general questions.
Give an example of a time when you had to sell an unpopular idea to someone?
If you have an example from work experience this is ideal, however, do not be concerned if you do not. You could give an example from your private life, such as persuading a friend or family member to get involved with something they were not really interested in. Good sales skills are transferable to life.
How do you go about selling unpopular ideas to people?
Say that you focus on the positive aspects of the idea and explain why it will eventually benefit everybody. Ideas may be unpopular but their outcomes are often welcomed once people understand better what is being proposed.
How would you identify a new market to enter?
Analysis of sales data should help to identify possible new markets. This would be followed up with some market research.
Why do you think you’re good at sales?
If you have a proven track record in sales, say so and give some examples. Mention how you are a good listener, good at interpreting a person’s motive and intention and that you feel confident in closing deals.
Why do you enjoy business development?
Say that you feel that business development is the heart of a healthy business and it is extremely rewarding to see a business grow on the back of your decisions and actions.
What motivates you in your work?
Hitting targets and achieving goals is your main motivation. Say that you are motivated by the desire to do a great job and to help improve business.
What’s your ideal working environment?
Say that you enjoy working in a team environment. Describe the environment in such a way as it sounds similar to the work environment you believe the company has adopted.
How would you get to understand and cater to a prospect’s specific needs?
Say that you listen to their needs and then propose a solution that will meet a majority of their needs. If there are any gaps in the product offering, explain that workarounds can be developed to ensure that business runs smoothly.
Preference-based questionsWhat attracted you to this role?
To answer this you need to show a good understanding of the company and say that you are keen to be part of a dynamic team to help the company grow and develop. The aim of business development is to develop growth opportunities, so you must show a keen interest in working with their products and services.
What do you enjoy most/least about teamwork?
Teamwork is central to most roles today; few people work in isolation. Answer that you like seeing how a group of people with a wide skill set can work together to achieve results not possible by any individual.
For the least enjoyable part of teamwork, try to keep it positive by saying that you sometimes prefer to concentrate on more complex problems in a quiet environment so there are times when the team environment can be a little distracting.
What do you think makes a good salesperson?
A good sales person needs to be friendly and professional, to be a good listener and an excellent speaker. Above all, they must be confident and extremely knowledgeable about the products they are selling.
Why do you enjoy working with people so much?
To answer this effectively it is best to say that you find that working with others is the most enjoyable and fulfilling way to develop new ideas and implement solutions. Say that working in a team environment allows many different skills to be brought together to produce better results in less time.
Do you enjoy working to targets?
Absolutely! Say that you are very much motivated when working in a target-orientated role and enjoy being the first to hit targets.
General business development interview questions
- Why do you want to work here?
- Having looked at our business, can you see any opportunities we’re missing at all?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- How did you prepare for this interview?
- Why did you leave your last role?
- Describe a situation in the past where you’ve had to improvise.
- Where do you see your career progressing to?
- What’s your favourite book?
- What salary would you be looking for?
Take time studying the potential questions employers may ask you and you'll give yourself the best opportunity in the interview. For more information and advice on jobs, career opportunities and interviews take a look at our career hub.