The 7 best SDR interview questions to ask new candidates


The 7 best SDR interview questions to ask new candidates

We asked seven sales development experts what insightful interview questions they've used to build out world-class SDR teams. Find out.

The SDR role has one of the highest rates of turnover in the marketing and sales team.

It’s just an ugly fact.

And with an average tenure of 1.5 years and up to 15 months for full productivity, the numbers aren’t stacking up in the hiring manager’s favor.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to make sure you’re hiring SDRs that are up to the task. We asked six sales development experts what insightful questions they’ve used to build out world-class SDR teams.

Here are the top questions they recommend for you to add to your SDR interview process –

Here are the most effective SDR interview questions for great hires:

  1. “What’d you do this morning during your (digital) commute?”
  2. “Tell me about your best and worst calls ever.”
  3. “Build a sample sequence for Company X.”
  4. “What drives you to be successful?”
  5. “What do you think we’re most excited about you as a candidate?”
  6. “Are there any non-sales skills you’re hoping to learn?”
  7. “Why do you want to work for us?”

1. “What’d you do this morning during your (digital) commute?

James Buckley, Head of Business Development of Attest, shares, “I like to understand what the candidate is doing to level up. I used to ask what they did on the tube ride on the way to the interview but sadly no longer!”

But, that’s still a very useful question.

Ask what they did to get ready for the day, or with the extra time they’ve earned now that there’s no morning commute. A peek into their personal routine gives a lot of insight into how a candidate takes care of themself and what they value.

Add on questions about their favorite blogs or podcasts for professional development, and you’ll get a clear picture if they’re a great fit for the ambitious SDR position.

2. “Tell me about your best and worst calls ever.

If you’re interviewing an SDR with some prior experience, it’s likely that there are some memorable cold calls etched in their brain forever. Tap into that information to find out what kind of communication skills they’ll bring to your company.

B2B Specialist Sales Advisor Javier Llorden says he always asks, “Tell me with detail what happened in what you’d consider your best call ever? What did you learn?”

But don’t stop there. Touting accomplishments isn’t the same as learning from mistakes. Javier adds, “Make sure to do the same with their worst call ever.”

Being an SDR requires constant adaptation and the willingness to learn. Make sure they’re prone to using every little misstep to level-up professionally.

3. “Build a sample sequence for Company X.

Digging into an SDR candidate’s past experience is a given. But, make sure you don’t forget to put their skills to the test in the present.

SVP of Revenue at Nextail Gonzalo Hafner explains, “When I interviewed potential SDRs, I made them build a sample 2-3 step email sequence for a well-known company, i.e. Uber. Then we discussed the sequence together.”

Giving candidates a taste of the creativity and on-your-feet thinking needed for the role can help you both decide if it’s a good fit.

Plus, it evaluates some much-needed skills. Gonzalo continues, “This allowed me to assess their level in important skills such as copywriting or selling a value prop.”

4. “What drives you to be successful?

Being an SDR is tough. Especially doing it alone, at home on the couch.

Passion and drive are key traits of an SDR that’s going to make it in today’s remote environment.

Ted Stockton-Smith, Head of EMEA Account Development at Cisco, Duo Security, states he always asks potential SDRs, “What is driving you to be successful?” This question helps you understand what innate motivation your interview candidate has.

Look for SDRs that value intrinsic motivation, like personal progress and a sense of accomplishment, instead of extrinsic factors, like praise from teammates or weekly contests. Personal motivation helps sales development reps keep their chin up even on those off-weeks, which are to be expected.

5. “What do you think we’re most excited about you as a candidate?”

Kyle Vamvouris, CEO of Vouris, offers up, “I always am the last person in the interview and my favorite question is “You have now spoken with {name] and [name]. Tell me, what do you think they are most excited about with you as a candidate and what do you think their biggest concern will be?”

He continues, “I like this question because It shows me how self-aware they are and I can gauge their self-confidence and intelligence (including EQ or emotional intelligence).”

This SDR interview question is a home run for sales managers to ask. Self-awareness, self-confidence, and coach-ability are innate traits for a role that gets constant constructive feedback.

6. “Are there any non-sales skills you’re hoping to learn?”

This question is a pretty powerful double-edged sword.

Sales expert Neil Bhuiyan, expert SDR coach and founder of, suggests this tricky inquiry to get a feel for what drives a candidate and what kind of future they expect.

Plus, if candidates answer with emotional intelligence skills such as empathy, negotiation, or better listening but don’t connect those traits to selling, they might not be the ideal fit.

Neil says, “Follow this question up with asking what they’re looking for in terms of coaching and personal development.” You’ll gain insights into how ambitious the candidate is and if they might make a future AE or SDR Manager.

7. “Why do you want to work for us?”

Yes, it’s a classic. But here’s why it stands the test of time – 

Michael Hanson, the founder of GrowthGenie, explains – “I always ask, how much do you know about our company? And if they haven’t done any research, how can you expect them to do any research on ideal customers?”

Just because the SDR role is an entry-level position, doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. This classic question helps you find out how serious a candidate is about the job.

Plus, personalization is key to increasing response rates and converting leads, and it requires a knack for research. The more background research a candidate has done on your company, the more effort they’re likely to put in their outreach efforts.

The bottom line

Fine-tuning your recruitment process for SDRs isn’t an easy task. But these six questions from sales experts will help you along the way.

Luckily, you don’t need to add daily guidance and onboarding to your SDR worry list. An all-in-one sales engagement platform can help take the burden off of training up your new reps.

Got new SDRs joining the team and think a compensation plan revamp might be in order? Get the free guide.

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