The Account Executive Interview Process
Last editedJan 20203 min read
One of the most important things as we look to scale from processing $1 billion payments a year to $10 billion is growing our sales team. Our vision is to create a global payments network, making payments simpler on the internet no matter what country you're from. We’ve previously written about how we train our salespeople. This blog post is aimed at guiding you through the account executive interview process. We want you to succeed, so we’re going to outline what we look for and how the process works.
The process is split into three sections:
First round interview (1.5 hours)
Final round interview (2.5 hours)
We have identified the following characteristics as being most important for successful salespeople here:
Smart. Our product is technical. To succeed here you need to be able to learn technical detail so you communicate potentially confusing things in a simple way.
Driven to learn and improve. We believe how good you’ll be a year from now is more dependant on attitude than current ability. How driven you are and how motivated you are to improve are the two most important drivers of success.
Coachability. Giving and taking feedback is one of the most important aspects of our company culture. The quicker you are able to act on feedback, the faster you learn.
Likeable. People don’t like to buy from people they don’t like. It is essential that anyone we employ is friendly.
Communication skills. The ability to explain complex ideas simply is absolutely crucial for our salespeople.
The interview process is designed to test these skills.
1. Phone screen
This interview lasts 10-15 minutes and you will speak to our hiring co-ordinator. We are assessing a few basic things here:
Have you done your research on the company?
Are you passionate about startups?
Do you want to work in sales?
To do well in this interview:
Be in a quiet place. Good signal helps too!
Be prepared. Make sure you’ve done research on the company. You should have more specific reasons on why you want to join than just ‘interested in startups or fintech.’
Be enthusiastic. We want to know you’re excited about joining us.
Be positive and engaging. We want to hire people who will make a contribution to our culture, who are respectful, polite, collaborative and energetic.
2. First round interview
This consists of two parts:
The background interview. Here we’ll be trying to assess the skills we value in salespeople as well as find out a bit more about your motivations for joining us and why you want to work in sales.
The roleplay. For this you will be doing a sales meeting with a mock client. You don’t know anything about them in advance.
In order to succeed in culture fit:
Think of examples of where you have demonstrated the skills we care about.
Be structured. Good communication is really important in sales. Read about the pyramid principle and apply it in your answers.
Be honest. People join a startup for a variety of reasons; tell us what you’re really looking for and what you want to do in your career. It doesn't matter if you’ve not got a history in sales (I didn’t do sales before GC!), but you need to have a good reason to work in sales with us.
Do your research. Why is it you want to work for us? Try and be specific as possible. How did you find out about us? What about us excites you?
In order to succeed in the role play:
Read SPIN Selling. This forms a great foundation on how we do sales here. If you don’t have time for the whole book, at a minimum read a summary. Prepare some questions for the role play using what you learn.
Know our product and industry. Sign up for a GoCardless account and learn how to use it. At a minimum you should read our Recurring Payments Guide and our Direct Debit Guide.
Listen attentively. Good questioning and good listening are two of the most important skills in sales. Listen carefully to what we say and use it to ask intelligent questions.
Don’t pitch. You should think of this as a conversation not a ‘pitch.’ The key is to really understand the client’s needs. Only then can you align our solution to what the client wants.
3. Final round interview
This consists of three parts:
The roleplay. The is the same format as the previous round. After the first role play we will give you feedback. The second round is the same scenario: we want to see if you’ve responded to the feedback.
The exec interview. In the final round you get the opportunity to meet our CEO and another member of our management team. The same advice as the background interview applies here.
Working with sales. This is a quick challenge. There is no need to prepare anything for this. We’ll give you something you might be faced with on a typical day here.
Good luck and we look forward to meeting you! If you’re unsure about applying, please just do. We'd love to hear from you!