Graphic that shows three different types of interview questions you should be asking.

Use these questions to identify a candidate’s technical knowledge and abilities

Use these questions to determine how a candidate handled situations in the past

Use these questions to assess a candidate’s personal traits and cognitive skills

Why this matters:

For any account management role, communication is key. CRM software tracks and manages communications between the business and the client within a singular record, so it’s useful to know if your candidate is experienced using these tools. Ideally, they’ll have used your company’s preferred CRM, or be eager to learn.

What to listen for:

  • References to specific CRM software, such as Salesforce
  • Signs that the candidate recognizes the value of these tools for account management
  • Evidence that they are comfortable working with industry-specific technology and are willing to learn new tools as required

Why this matters:

Account managers are typically responsible for managing more than one client account at any given time. Depending on their seniority, they may manage two or three large accounts simultaneously, or several smaller ones. This requires them to be highly organized in order to stay on top of clients’ evolving needs.

What to listen for:

  • Mentions of specific tools the candidate uses to stay on track, such as spreadsheets or CRM software
  • Evidence of organizational skills and an ability to prioritize tasks effectively
  • Dedication to providing a great experience for all clients

Why this matters:

Account managers often have to generate reports for clients, supervisors, and leaders. These reports may track whether the account manager has been able to maintain and grow business with the client, or they may detail progress made on important client projects. Either way, they require good communication skills and keen attention to detail.

What to listen for:

  • Mentions of specific reporting tools and the candidate’s level of experience with each one
  • The ability to use data to tell a compelling story
  • Top answers may emphasize the importance of transparency and readability when creating a report

Why this matters:

Since account managers serve as a primary point of contact for clients, if a client is unhappy, the account manager is likely to be the first to hear about it. As such, they must possess good communication and conflict management skills in order to diffuse delicate situations and get the relationship back on track.

What to listen for:

  • The ability to keep a cool head, even during heated situations
  • Demonstrated use of interpersonal skills in defusing a volatile situation
  • Ideally, the candidate will show that they successfully maintained the relationship, despite the hiccup

Why this matters:

An account manager isn’t just responsible for maintaining long-term relationships with clients—they’re also tasked with helping to grow the business. A successful upsell requires the account manager to first identify a client’s needs in order to find the product or service that can best fulfill them, so great listening skills are a must.

What to listen for:

  • Demonstrated listening skills, coupled with strong communication skills
  • Evidence that the candidate takes steps to thoroughly understand their clients’ workflows and needs
  • Enthusiasm and passion for closing sales

Why this matters:

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but account managers that own up to them and are able to learn from them are less likely to make similar errors moving forward. When they use the knowledge gained from these situations to reassess their strategies and finetune their workflows, organization, and customer service approach, their work becomes stronger for it.

What to listen for:

  • Examples of constructive lessons learned from the experience—and how the candidature used them to improve a process or workflow
  • Willingness to take responsibility for their own oversights 
  • Evidence that they take steps to avoid making the same mistake again

Why this matters:

Typically, after the sales team closes a new account, they hand it over to a dedicated account manager who is tasked with nurturing the relationship and keeping the client happy. To provide effective support, the account manager must quickly get to know their new client’s preferences, needs, and goals. Their understanding will evolve over time, but it helps to be curious and diligent from day one.

What to listen for:

  • References to specific research strategies, such as reviewing the sales notes
  • Signs of curiosity and a desire to learn as much as possible about new clients
  • Candidates may discuss the importance of being briefed by the salesperson and asking the right questions

Why this matters:

To retain lucrative clients, account managers must focus on fostering relationships that are mutually beneficial. This requires them to be thoughtful and empathetic communicators who can quickly get to the bottom of any issue and find a resolution that keeps everyone involved happy. When these professionals are truly invested in their clients’ success, both parties thrive.

What to listen for:

  • A genuine passion for interacting with people and helping them to be successful
  • An empathetic communication style that conveys approachability 
  • Top candidates will have a proven track record of managing long-lasting client relationships

Why this matters:

Since account managers often have to work with employees across departments to resolve clients’ issues, you want to know that your new hire has a history of building good relationships internally, as well as externally. Whether they previously worked as an account manager or not, their experience interacting with other teams can tell you a lot about their interpersonal skills.  

What to listen for:

  • A history of fostering positive and productive working relationships
  • Ideally, the candidate will speak warmly of their coworkers and show an appreciation for their different skills and perspectives
  • If the candidate references a poor relationship, look for signs of diplomacy