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How to answer: "sell me this pen" during recruitment interview?

I'll admit that this question brings me rather negative associations with pushy sales, persuasion and "pushy" salesmen. - Such an image was also reinforced by the film The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo di Caprio. However, it is quite popular and it looks like it will not easily disappear. It is worth confronting.

Some recruiters (especially those with marketing, sales, management specialties) believe that sales skills are essential for any of the important positions in a company (not just salespeople or marketers) so they test these skills through this question - and this may come as a surprise to many. It's worth knowing the question "sell me this pen "and preparing to answer it.

Let's think a little deeper about what lies beneath it, and then prepare your answer and rehearse it so that it will be memorable and you won't be surprised by this question ever again in your life. It simply makes sense to be prepared for it at all times.

So let's get to the point...

In a nutshell, we should assure the person asking this question, "Of course I know the biggest secret of sales. Find out what people want i.e. know what their needs are, and then show them a way to satisfy them.

If the interviewer takes a pen in his hand and says "sell me this pen" then the best reaction would be to be confident, smile and then move on to demonstrate the main principle of sales....

Once we know what the recruiter expects and what answer should be in his mind - let's get down to how to do it.

We can serve the interviewer the following answer:

"A good salesperson should perform 3 actions in this situation.

Action number 1

This is to learn about the customer's needs and assess whether he qualifies the potential customer for a purchase and puts effort into the sales process with this customer or perhaps makes the assessment that it is not worth investing time, effort and money in initiating action and moves on to work on the next customer.

Action number 2

This is knowing the product and getting information about the needs of the person who is interested in buying it even before he starts the sale.

"If I were going to sell a pen, I would first get all the information about the object of the sale i.e. its functions - the advantages and benefits of using it, but it is also important that we know the disadvantages so that we can substantively respond to customer objections.

Action number 3

This is a combination of the work done in activity number 1 and activity number 2 and drawing conclusions from them, i.e. showing the buyer how the product's functions fit into the needs of the person concerned."

"A good salesperson should know the product well and the information about the person who is interested in buying it even before he starts selling. If I were going to sell a pen, I would first get all the information about the object of the sale i.e. its functions and the benefits it gives to the holder, but also the disadvantages so that I can answer objections that may arise from the buyer."

"If I was going to sell you a pen then I would make a check on how you can use it. One of the best ways is to ask some questions. Can I ask you questions?"

I would ask questions like, "Tell me what purposes do you use the pen for? If you don't already own one - would you like one?"

Then I would add "Is there anything else you would like to add besides that?"

"You would expect this pen to be reliable, to look good."

After asking a series of questions that will provide information about the writing tool, its features and the value of using it, make sure to present its features, as well as the benefits of using it as a response to what needs were communicated by the buyer.

Then conclude with "What price is fair to you for a pen as reliable as this one that can be yours right now and help avoid (you list the problems that can arise without it)." To the amount given by the customer you reply - "congratulations, you have become the owner of this pen".


If your interlocutor repeatedly puts "stumbling blocks" questioning even whether he wants to buy a pen - do not argue with him, culturally in a calm and appropriate pace bring the conversation to an end. Take the product back from him and say: "Dear customer, I am grateful that you explained at the very beginning that you have no need for this pen." As we know, the first rule of a salesman is to meet the needs of customers having the products we offer, and it would be a waste of time and energy for us to talk about your needs and the benefits of having this pen.

If we want to perform even better then we can put a little more effort into this task....

"However, we have many products in our assortment - is there one on this table that you would like to own? One of them?"

If he indicates then we repeat the above process with the new product. If the caller is competent in sales/marketing then he should appreciate our presentation and evaluate our answer positively.

There are many ways to respond to this question, and there are even more responses. In this post we have presented one of them.




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