Simply Sales Talk: My failed interviews

Jes 18 Comments

The turnover in the sales industry is like 2 to 3 years so it's normal to go to many interviews and get to know the different jobs available in the market. To climb up to be a manager from an assistant manager, I had to go to more than 10 interviews to see which jobs interest me more.
The interviewers always seem scary... (Source: Wikipedia)
All these failed interviews helped a greater understanding of myself and what I am worth.

The first few rejected me by saying I was too young, lack experience and regional knowledge. I can accept that they say that I lack regional knowledge. After all my customer base is only in Singapore. The worst feedback is that I am too young.... I can't control that, can I? If I am inexperienced due to age then I am fine with it, but looking too young so I can't command respect is totally not a valid reason. I command respect based on how I speak and the way I behave, not from my looks!

I think I look like a baby to them... (Source: Wikipedia)
Every failed interview makes me stronger and I am getting better in answering the questions. I think I had around 5 interviews that mentioned the words 'Too young'.. Made me feel like hitting these people with a wrench, haha. I was in search of the company that recognizes what I can do and not just a number of my age.

The next 5 interviews are the funny ones. One of them is a totally different industry in airlines where they proceeded to make me feel worthless.

What kind of sales books have you read? None.
What kind of courses have you attended on sales? None.
Do you know of any sales theory? None.
Do you know any professional sales person? None.

So, I am not a worthy candidate. Funny how actual sales performance doesn't matter at all. I can be great at theory but unable to hit my sales target! How much confidence do you have? None.

Not easy with so many detractors.... (Source: Wikipedia)
One of the interviews consist of a written exam for a Japanese company. There was no one to talk to and it's just me sitting there and completing their 8 open ended questions, what a shock! The funny thing is, none of these are actually about sales. It's all logistics and financial jargon like:

1) What are the steps involved to import a shipment to the warehouse?
2) What are the different charges that have to be included?
3) What are the different basis of quotation other than CIF?
4) How to load cargoes that do not have standard packing?

Granted, sales people need to know these things. But we do not need exact details, we just need to know how they work, that's what the supply chain department is for! Luckily, being in a small SME has taught me to be 'Jia ba lang' (everything also do) so I picked up some stuff but not enough to ace the exam.

After quite a long time searching and after so many rejections, I finally got my dream job.... To become a regional sales manager in a manufacturer's position.

My patience and persistence has finally paid off.


If you have benefited from this post, support our first business venture at or like us on Facebook!


  1. Hello Jes,

    Thank goodness you didn't get selected in those previous jobs!

    The one about sales theory cracks me up!


    1. Hi SMOL,

      Haha I can joke about it now but it was kind of depressing to keep getting rejected... not good for my morale. I am sure you have interviewed many and got some tips... come on, share leh! :)

  2. wow u climb the ladder fast
    so we will get to see more travel posts soon

    1. Hi Jimmy,

      This happened one year ago... I am still playing catch up to my current position hehe. Anyway travel for work not many free and easy tips... must go on personal trips then more fun and can explore more!

      Thanks for dropping by :)

  3. Jes,

    Of course I went through countless interviews during my "lost years".

    Then something "magical" happened...

    You know it since you are a salesperson too ;)

    The trick is not to ace interviews.

    The trick is to PROTECT and MARKET your brand - Jes.

    Before you know it, suppliers will make offers to you to join them, vendors will make hints to you switch over, and managers of other departments/divisions in your company will try to poach you.

    Who wouldn't want talent in their teams?

    The higher we go, the less recruitment is done through "interviews" ;)

    1. Hi SMOL,

      You are right as usual! What I do is to grow my network and knowledge so these intangibles can follow me wherever I go and employers will want to poach me because of that. We need to show that we can contribute first before they will pay us top dollars.

      One more thing is that once I got into MNC, I got more interests from other companies and more calls from them. Definitely better recognition than SME. I think I still need to wait a few more years to get poached but I am sure time will come :)

      Thank you for the insights!

  4. Congrats. 10 interviews considered less for a dream job

    1. Hi FD,

      Haha good practice I think. Now on my search for another dream job. Sounds like you have much experience to share?

  5. Hi Jes,

    Good to have drive when u r young. young is energy and unstoppable.

    U will also realize that eventually, the entire corporate game is more than just hitting sales figures. It's about dealing with people. A good mentor is important also. They can see things u probably cannot see.

    And be patient and the last thing U want is over conceit when u r successful. just like stocks when u think u r invincible when u are earning quarter, half or even a million annually, u ultimately will know success of ur work is ultimately sustainability.

    Just an eg, if u can earn 100k-200k pa for at least 7-8 yrs gg thru a crisis, it will be better than earning during good yr more and then the rest of the years struggle.

    Just my two cents Thoughts!

    1. Hi Rolf,

      Appreciate your insights! Yeah, I also found that it's dealing with humans that are more challenging and I am learning every day. Once I understand the people better, we can work better and sales will grow. It's not just up to my own effort to get sales now. Mentor wise, I think I have not met the right person yet.

      I am far from successful but thanks for the advice. I like consistent earnings too but as you know, for MNC, the chopping normally comes suddenly and swiftly or the whole company could be sold any day. I just hope to get the right connections and gain the right knowledge to retain my employability :)

      Please continue to share your advice, thank you!

  6. Hi Jes,

    I like the way you fail forward! From being fearful, intimidated to being able to mock at them and finally, landing something you really want!

    Hope the past one year has been great!

    1. Hey 15HWW,

      Thanks for the link to your weekend readings! Anyway, cool term - fail forward haha. It has not been an easy time and it took some time to move past the rejections. I know most people go through the same stages and just want to reinforce the belief in oneself and that dreams do come true :)

      Yep, the past year has been good to me as you can see from my carefree travelling posts. Now the question is, what is my next dream job? Hmm.

  7. Hi Jes,

    :-) I am as "young" as you at heart, so not so qualify to share advice. I just talk to myself and u DYODD.

    Guess working for others is always in mercy of chopping board. That is not only in MNC. For sales, we need to stay humble and likeable always. Continue invest in yourself

    Maybe that is why I think we need to have multiple income taps. Link here

    Also there is an interesting example in Donald Trump "Think Big" although I do not quite like this fellow.
    <a href="”>Link here</a>

    1. Hi Rolf,

      Definitely we need to have passive income and achieve financial freedom and get out of the chopping board. Not only that, we will not need to depend on the CPF sum and begrudge govt for increasing the withdrawal age and minimum sum. Financial literacy is so impt!

      Cool links. I think I can answer your question: Young people google things instead of asking questions in seminars, haha.

      Regarding your 'Think Big' concept, I always tell myself the same thing and drag myself to go on such events. However, none of the dinners has helped me yet so I am still waiting to prove the theory right.

      I think I should start reading your past posts huh? :)

  8. Hi Jes,

    I had experience the "think big" eg once even before I read the book!

    I remember I was not feeling well in a meeting with two American clients in my office. Then my colleague make the proposal of dinner. I have to drag myself to the dinner, but strangely during the dinner I was enjoying myself with the clients who expressed more warmth than during the meeting. The night was great as relationships deepened and we become friends more than business associate.

    Eventually the contractual negotiation month later was made much more simple. and I concluded the very profitable contract of many millions!

    1. Hi Rolf,

      Good for you! Seems like your connections are working for you. Mine ah, like not so important, always never bring me any real benefits. More often than not, it's a waste of time. But I believe in networking so... dragging myself to social events yet again. Sigh.