19 Common Business Development Interview Questions
Being prepared for common business development interview questions is essential. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying to become an associate or a manager, you’ll certainly get asked a few of these!
This list of questions will help you impress during the interview by having fantastic answers ready to go.
1. How do you stay up to date with an industry and look for new opportunities
The entire goal of business development is to create connections and find new opportunities for a company to grow. These positions are critical to an organization’s expansion. The right candidate should know how to build those all-important relationships to help companies enter new markets, expand their audience, and boost the bottom line.
This business development interview question is asked to determine if potential hires are forward-thinking. Innovation and a forward-thinking attitude are keys to success in business development. You must know how to spot trends and always look for what’s peaking over the horizon.
The best way to answer is to discuss your methods of keeping your pulse on your industry. That could be meeting with others to nurture relationships, reading up on industry publications, and more. The goal is to prove that you know how to identify emerging trends.
2. How do you determine which deals to focus on?
In business development, you’ll find many opportunities to strike deals. But what makes a good business development professional is knowing how to determine which deals are worth pursuing.
It’s a lesson in relationship building, and that’s what interviewers want to know more about when asking this question. The question challenges you to show your decision-making skills and discuss how you foster relationships that positively impact the company.
Reflect on your most successful deals in previous jobs and walk interviewers through your thought process. Explain how you ultimately settled on the right deal and what you did to determine it was the correct choice.
3. What do you like most about business development?
Here’s an interesting business development interview question that sometimes throws job seekers off. Despite how it sounds, this is not a trick question. It’s a way for hiring managers to learn more about your passions and motivations.
Business development is a unique field that not everyone is willing to pursue. Interviewers ask this question to learn more about your background and why you’re in this particular industry.
Be honest and upfront. Talk about why you enjoy business development. Focus on the challenges of this field and reflect on the past experiences that brought you to where you are today. Reiterate your interest in the job and prove to interviewers that you’re there for more than just a paycheck.
4. Share a bit about your background and how it has helped prepare you for business development.
People who get into business development sometimes start in an entirely different field. For example, many salespeople transition to business development after realizing they can foster organizational growth.
This question helps interviewers learn more about your prior work experience and the skills you bring to the table. It’s an invitation to share your backstory and highlight your qualifications.
Focus on what skills set you apart from other candidates and frame your answer positively to reiterate your excitement for the opportunity. Talk about the experiences and the skills you’ve acquired that prepared you to be a business development professional.
5. Share a time when you decided to turn down a potential deal. Why did you make this decision?
Not every opportunity in business development is worth pursuing. While the right relationship can lead to explosive growth, the wrong one can cause harm to the company.
Business development is about identifying emerging trends and finding deals that help your company take advantage of them. You need to know how to turn down potential partnerships.
Hiring managers want to know that you have what it takes to say “no” when necessary. This business development interview question aims to highlight your strategies and get a glimpse into your problem-solving methods.
Choose a real-world example of when you had to decline a deal. Reflect on that experience and detail why you made that decision. End on a positive note and highlight the positive outcome of that choice.
6. Are you comfortable working in an environment that uses quotas?
Business development is similar to traditional sales roles. While the metrics differ, this field usually operates around quotas and targets. Hiring managers want to know that you’re comfortable working with quotas and can easily manage the stress that comes with them.
This field runs on targets, so you must show enthusiasm. In many cases, quotas help drive growth. The best candidates not only accept targets, but they thrive working under them.
Provide examples of past quotas you were faced with and times you exceeded them. Be sure to show excitement about achieving those goals and include how they benefited the company.
7. What interests you about working with us?
This is a popular question that can come up for any position.
While not primarily focused on business development, hiring managers use the question to gauge your understanding of the company. They want to know that you did your research and have a good grasp of what this job entails.
Spend time researching the company and role before your interview. Learn as much as possible about the organization’s mission statement, values, and goals. Then, look at the products or services the company delivers and the competitors in the market. You want to understand how this company is similar to and different from other providers in the industry.
Study the job description and use the information you learn to illustrate your understanding of this opportunity when giving your answer.
8. Share a time when you lost out on a potentially significant deal.
Rejection is a normal part of business development. If you want the job, you’ll have to show hiring managers that you can handle it, move on, and continue looking for new opportunities.
The best way to answer this question is to focus on what you learned from the experience. You can explain the situation, go into detail about your role, and mention why you might have lost the opportunity.
The most important thing is to show that the experience helped you grow in your career. Emphasize the lessons you learned and what you’ve done differently since that lost deal.
9. What’s a deal or project you’ve done in the past that you’re particularly proud of?
While the last question focuses on a not-so-great moment in your career, this one revolves around your successes.
Interviewers love to hear about the deals you’re most proud of. You can talk about major agreements that led to substantial wins for your company or a contract that meant a lot to you because of how much it helped you learn.
Whatever the case, explain what you did and then focus on why this was a positive experience for you, your career and the company. The purpose of this business development interview question is to gain insight into your natural motivations. It can help hiring decision-makers determine if you’re the right fit for the position while allowing you to flex your qualifications.
10. How do you stay organized and manage your time?
Business development is a complex job. You may spend one day bouncing between meetings, and another sitting at your desk doing research. There’s a lot of excitement, but there’s an equal amount of monotony.
This question helps interviewers learn more about your work processes. It’s your chance to prove that you have excellent time management skills and know how to structure your day for maximum productivity.
Provide examples of your scheduling techniques in action and tell interviewers how they benefit you in your job.
11. Sell me something that has nothing to do with this industry.
Here’s another question that often throws job candidates for a loop! It’s an all-too-common question meant to highlight your basic sales aptitudes. While business development is more complex than standard sales, it utilizes many of the same skills.
Interviewers want you to display your charisma, communication, and problem-solving skills!
Choose any item in the room. Then, focus on its value proposition. You can ask qualifying questions to learn more about why the interviewers may want the product, but your goal is to improvise.
Find valid points that make the item compelling and show your enthusiasm.
12. What tools do you like using to help you with your daily job responsibilities?
Working in business development often requires you to use many tools to gain insight, build relationships, and close deals. Many different software platforms are available, and interviewers want to know what you’re proficient in.
There’s no inherently “right” or “wrong” response. This question serves as more of an opportunity to learn about your processes. It’s a chance for hiring managers to see how you fit into the company culture and what unique skills you bring with you.
Study the job description and make a note of any tools mentioned. Do your research and reflect on proficiencies that may be relevant to the job. Always bring your response back to the position and how your skills can benefit the bottom line.
13. What’s your process for talking with a potential customer who is using a competitor’s product?
This question is somewhat similar to the previous request to sell a product to the interviewer. It’s a way to put your sales skills on full display. However, this question centers around the more complex aspect of sales.
It’s a way to test your ability to handle objections and pull potential customers away from your biggest rivals. To do that, you need to have impressive communication skills and know how to pivot your tactics to appeal to customers who have seemingly already made up their minds.
Think of a relevant example from your previous jobs. Go over what you did to convince and convert the potential customer and emphasize the positive outcome.
14. How do you deal with situations where a third party is getting in the way of a deal?
In the world of business development, there are many moving parts. Numerous stakeholders will have a say in company deals, and you can easily lose out on an opportunity to no fault of your own. When that happens, what do you do?
This question is about adjusting your strategies, listening, understanding, and personal growth.
Hiring managers want to know how you navigate these complex scenarios. How do you convince those third-party detractors to step aside and allow deals to go through? If your tactics fail, what do you do to grow and become more effective?
Talk about your strategies in these situations, how you have learned from those situations and your skills have evolved to make you more successful than ever.
15. How do you see your career going over the next five to ten years?
This is the perfect example of a “cliche” job interview question. You hear it all the time, and it can come up when interviewing for positions in every industry. But there’s a reason why it’s so common.
Questions like this are about ensuring candidates are there for the right reasons.
No hiring manager wants to bring someone in who’s only there for a paycheck. They want someone who will have an impact on the company, produce numbers, be a valuable asset, and will hopefully stick around.
You don’t have to make any promises. However, implying that you want to continue to grow your skills and successes within business development is a great way to reassure decision-makers that you’re the right person for the job.
16. How do you approach finding new customers while still retaining current ones?
Time management can be a challenging aspect of business development. To see success in these positions, you need to juggle multiple relationships, foster new deals, and maintain existing customer satisfaction. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and hiring managers need reassurance that you’re up to the task.
When answering this question, lean on your ability to develop plans and manage tasks effectively. You can provide examples of stressful situations from your past that you successfully navigated or go into your current techniques.
The goal is to prove that nothing you do in the role is random. Instead, you take a methodical approach and meticulously plan your responsibilities to maintain success.
17. How do you address concerns from a potential buyer or partner?
Here’s another business development interview question that revolves around core selling skills.
Not every relationship you build or deal you close will be smooth sailing. In many cases, you have to convince potential partners of the mutually beneficial agreement. That means handling objections.
When developing your response, talk about your objection-handling skills. Talk about a specific instance when you focused on the points where you and the customer agree and how you asked questions and conducted research to present ideas and solutions they could agree with. Show how you do your homework to ensure that potential partners see the bigger picture.
18. Describe your ideal customer.
It may seem a little odd to talk about the “ideal” customer, but your response unveils more about your approach than you might realize. The question helps the hiring manager gain more insight into your priorities when seeking clients and building relationships.
In business development, people naturally gravitate toward those who fit their ideal client profile. Those relationships are often easier to build, and you can sometimes predict how those individuals will react to proposals.
When telling interviewers who you like to work with, you’re unveiling your priorities and highlighting how you seek clients. It also gives them a better idea of how you expect potential clients to react to your ideas.
19. How do you define success?
Here’s another widely used business development interview question. Defining what success means to you gives interviewers a glimpse into your motivations. Everyone has a unique idea of success. For some, it’s surpassing sales goals or successfully pitching out-of-the-box ideas.
But does your definition align with the company’s? That’s what interviewers want to know.
Researching the company and learning about its vision and values go a long way. Use what you know to frame your answer in a way that helps hiring managers see you in the role. Provide examples of your past achievements and show eagerness to experience success at the new organization.
Now that you’re prepared to answer the most common business development interview questions, it’s time to start practicing. After all, jobs aren’t given to people, they’re earned!
Work through this list, develop some bullet points you’d like to include when giving your answers, and you’ll have a great chance of getting hired.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.