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3 min read operations | guide

9 Interview Questions for Hiring the Best Automotive Talent

Learn how to spot promising candidates who have what it takes to achieve success at your dealership.

Finding great candidates doesn’t have to be a mystery

For some dealerships, intuition and instincts dictate who gets hired. Occasionally, this method will strike gold, but it isn’t consistent, scalable, or teachable — there’s no guarantee that a “good feeling” about a candidate will translate into a good team member.

Finding great candidates doesn't have to be a mystery

As helpful as intuition can be, it’s important to balance it out with a science-based hiring approach that can be reliably repeated for each open position.

Download the interview question checklist or read on below.

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Over the years that we’ve been helping dealerships create, grow, and retain their teams, we’ve noticed some qualities that are consistently found in the best automotive talent. But what exactly are these traits, how should you define them, and how can you hire for them? Let’s dig in.

Three traits that signal success

We assessed over 700 sales and F&I professionals across the US to narrow down the top 3 traits of highly successful sales professionals: urgency, persuasiveness, and grit.

Based on our industry experience, here are some of the ways we define each trait:

urgency

Urgency

  • Assertive and independent
  • Comfortable taking initiative
  • Moves at a faster-than-average pace
  • Responds well to pressure
Persuasiveness

Persuasiveness

  • Natural drive to connect with others
  • Lively, optimistic communication style
  • Strong listening skills and empathy
Grit

Grit

  • Comfortable taking risks and making decisions
  • Venturesome attitude
  • Willing to take ownership of and learn from mistakes

 

How to hire for these traits at your dealership

Hiring can be a challenge when you don’t quite know what to look for in a candidate.

Leveraging our experience in talent acquisition alongside the results of our study, we came up with nine interview questions (three for each trait) that you can ask to spot potential high performers and get the most out of your recruiting experience for your dealership.

Everyone will answer interview questions differently depending on their individual experience, but we’ve found that when someone exemplifies these traits, similar talking points often come up. Keep in mind that these guidelines aren’t meant to be rigid — they’re intended to be a jumping-off point to help you assess candidates based on the traits that matter most to your dealership.

Interview questions to assess urgency

1. Describe a time when you seized an opportunity or grabbed something and ran with it yourself.

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What to listen for:

  • How much support they needed
  • The pace at which things moved once they decided to act
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What this question assesses:

  • Comfort level of acting with minimal planning
  • Willingness to take risks and ownership

 

2. Tell me about a time when you had to do things that didn’t challenge you.

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What to listen for:

  • Willingness to seek out challenges on their own, self motivation
  • Comfort in the bigger picture, patience
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What this question assesses:

  • Enthusiasm and diligence in achieving long-term goals
  • Motivation and perseverance, even when something goes unexpectedly

 

3. Explain what you did when faced with a difficult problem.

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What to listen for:

  • Comfort level with challenges and failures
  • How the problem is described (as permanent or temporary)

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What this question assesses:

  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Determination to persist past mistakes, rather than being discouraged

 

Interview questions to assess persuasiveness

1. Tell me about a time when your listening skills helped you diffuse a situation.

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What to listen for:

  • How they summarize, ability to present the other side before suggesting a solution
  • Empathy, ability to read emotions of others
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What this question assesses:

  • Active listening skills and comprehension
  • Willingness to see things from a different angle, open-mindedness

 

2. Tell me about a time when you changed your interpersonal style midstream because something wasn’t working.

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What to listen for:

  • How they adjust depending on situations/people
  • Relationship building tactics
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What this question assesses:

  • Ability to read a situation or person
  • Adaptability, confidence in adjusting course independently

 

3. Tell me about a time when you almost lost a customer and had to turn it around.

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What to listen for:

  • How they approach customer objections
  • Did they make product/service improvements based on feedback?

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What this question assesses:

  • Ability to establish trust and credibility with a customer
  • Customer experience mindset

 

Interview questions to assess grit

1. Tell me about your biggest professional failure. What did you learn from the experience?

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What to listen for:

  • Willingness to own failures rather than passing the blame
  • Self-reflection on what went wrong, with a clear sense of what to do differently next time
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What this question assesses:

  • Determination to persist past mistakes, rather than being discouraged
  • Humility and adaptation in the face of failure

 

2. Tell me about a goal that you're working toward, personally or professionally. How's it going?

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What to listen for:

  • Thoughtful, advanced planning that demonstrates organization and interest in an endeavor
  • Concrete steps they’ve taken to maintain a focused approach on achieving their goals
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What this question assesses:

  • Enthusiasm and diligence in achieving long-term goals
  • Motivation and perseverance, even when something goes unexpectedly

 

3. How do you decide if and when to stop pursuing a goal?

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What to listen for:

  • Centering around the negative, futile consequences of continuing down the same path
  • Careful, objective consideration of the pros and cons of giving up
  • Exploration of alternative solutions
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What this question assesses:

  • Ability to recognize a lost cause
  • Poise in backing out and making every effort to minimize unwanted consequences

 


 

Take these interview questions with you

Download our free worksheet to take to the interview with you for easy reference.

You can check the boxes and keep the top three traits of automotive talent — urgency, persuasiveness, and grit — top-of-mind as you assess candidates.

 

Sign Up to Download

 
Take these interview questions with you

 

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