News Article

JOB INTERVIEW TIPS-Sell me this pen!

Posted 11th February 2020 • Written by People First •

Job Interview Tips

If you’re going for a sales job, this type of question is very common. If you’re an experienced sales person, you probably know how to handle it, but if you’re just starting out, then this might help.

Most interview questions are not intended to put you under pressure, but this one is, because sales is a pressurised job.

What they really want to know is if you have basic selling skills and know how to talk to customers. They want you to show you can you identify a client’s needs, can build a relationship with them, show them why they need what you have and can close a sale.


“The Wolf of Wall Street” contains exactly this scene – don’t copy it – but you can adapt it because it shows a basic element of selling.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s character gets an interviewee to answer this question, which he does by taking the pen from DiCaprio and asking him to write his name, which Di Caprio can’t because he hasn’t got a pen anymore!

So, the candidate has highlighted a need.

You can do more than just this by asking qualifying questions, just as you would in a real life sales situation, because the answers show you what the client wants and needs and you know how to proceed with your questions and sales pitch.


These questions and scenarios from will help:


How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

This shows you understand sales questions.


What kind of pens do you like? What do you use pens for? Do you go for style or use?

It proves you know how to empathise with a customer.


How long have you wanted to buy a pencil?

Interviewer: I don’t want to.

Applicant: Hm. Do you ever buy pencils?

Interviewer: My admin handles that.

Applicant: That’s great. Does cost matter more to her, or quality?

Interviewer: I’m not sure.

Applicant: Well I’d love to talk to her. I traditionally save customers 10%–30% on pencils of all quality ranges. Could we set up a call?

You have proved you know how to qualify a lead.


Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

Applicant: How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

Interviewer: About a day.

Applicant: Do you use pens for everyday tasks, or for important business deals? Do you find yourself borrowing them a lot?

You have showed you can establish need.


Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

Applicant: How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

Interviewer: Mine just ran out.

Applicant: That’s too bad. Can I leave this one with you? If you don’t like it I’ll come back in a week and you won’t pay a cent.

You have learned about the prospect’s need and timeline. Then you solved her problem and set up a free trial.


Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

Applicant: Do you need a pen?

Interviewer: Sure.

Applicant: Do you like blue ink best or red or black? Ballpoints or fine-tips?

You have proved you can dig into specific needs.


Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

Applicant: Do you actually need a pen?

Interviewer: Yes.

Applicant: Do you like fine-tips or ballpoints? Fancy or plain? What color ink?

Interviewer: I like plain blue-ink ballpoints.

Applicant: I think this pen’s a great fit for you. It’s a plain blue-ink ballpoint. Great for taking notes and signing business documents. Can I put you down for two boxes?

You have qualified the customer and learned her needs. Then you closed the sale.


To summarise:


The interviewer doesn’t really need a pen but

s/he does need to know if you have basic sales skills

which you can demonstrate by turning it into a qualifying session to understand and meet the client’s needs.

Click to see more Interview and CV tips from People First Recruitment to help in your search for a Mandarin speaking job, a Japanese job, a Language job or a job in Supply Chain, Procurement or Demand Planning in London & the UK