Sell Me This Pen – Common Sales Interview Question

JUNE 20, 2010 | BY MICAH
A group of red pens and one blue pen which stands out

Sales is one of the most difficult aspects of business. Sales staff needs to try to sell a product that may or may not be worth purchasing to a person or business that may or may not actually need it. Sales is its own art form. It takes an amazing grasp of the English language, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to pick up on minute changes in behavior.

Most of all, it involves the ability to use persuasive language and well known sales techniques in order to do it successfully. One of the ways that employers like to check an applicant’s sales ability is by asking the applicant to “Sell me this pen.”

How to Sell a Pen

The goal of this question is to see that you have the ability to be persuasive about something as simple and random as a pen. Effective sales is not about listing off the features of a product. When you are selling on a pen, you do not want to pick up the pen and start listing off:

  • It writes.
  • It is pretty.
  • It has a click feature.
  • It is has a comfort grip.

That’s amateur sales. Anyone can list off the features of a product. It is not persuasive and doesn’t wow anyone. It’s a pen. What you want to do is sell the “client” (in this case, the interviewer) on the pen as a solution. Focus on what the client’s needs are, and how the pen meets those needs.

“Have you ever needed to remember something for a long period of time? Have you ever needed to write a check or sign a contact but didn’t have the tools on hand to do so? Allow me to introduce BIC pens. BIC pens are designed specifically help you write down items you need to remember, while it’s reliable ink is designed to withstand even the harshest environmental conditions. BIC is an industry leader in helpful writing devices that allow you the opportunity to keep track of thousands of items on all types of paper, all over the world.

“Easily portable, BIC pens have come with a year long supply of ink, able to write any words you need to jot down at all hours of the day seven days a week. But that’s not all. Have you ever caught a coworker sleeping on the job? With a BIC pen, you can use the pointy tip to stab them into alertness. Our BIC pen tips are guaranteed to never dull…”

Other Interview Tips and Tricks

There is more than one way to approach this type of question. One applicant used a more interactive approach. He took a check out of his pocket, wrote out a $100 check, kept the name blank, handed the check to the interviewer and said “Wouldn’t it be great if you had a pen right now?”

Another aspect you will need to consider is how to handle concerns. Your interviewer may voice counter opinions of the pen and you will need to know how to address those counters. Do not get flustered. Keep your cool and focus on addressing the concern. Be willing to answer this question actively and show the employer that you are happy to take on the pen challenge.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Focus on how the product addresses the client’s needs.
  • Be persuasive, confident, and fun.
  • Avoid acting flustered by the question.

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14 Responses to Sell Me This Pen – Common Sales Interview Question

  1. Huynh July 28, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    Hey! thanks for posting this! I just handed in a resume to EB games, and i heard that they were going to do something like this. its scary because I’m not the type of person to be persuasive, this helped out a lot! thanks again!

    • Micah
      Micah July 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

      Awesome. Good luck!

  2. joves04 October 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Wow this is Very Helpfull…. Thank you so much 4 posting….
    keep it up….

  3. Davonda January 17, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    OMG…… !!!! Just what I was needing plus alot more. THANKS so much.

  4. Ian Adams January 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    This is perfect! I actually wish I had read this article before my sales interview. This is what happened to me, my exact answer when they asked, “sell me this pen.”


    • admin July 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      Hi Ian, great article! Love it!

  5. Dakshaa October 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    it’s good, it helped in my interview thanks for posting it……………………………’s cool………………..

  6. waleed April 6, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    This is very helpfull thanks for posting

  7. Rennyadex April 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    Thank you so much for this informative write-up. So helpful.

  8. Rahul Ram L India April 28, 2015 at 5:30 am #

    Its very Helpful..Thank you so much for this..its sure it may help me on my upcoming interview …once again thanking ..Wish u all the best..God may bless u..

  9. Chan May 14, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    I already encountered this question. But, I’m not able to sell the pen because I don’t know what to start selling and what to say. Thank you very much for posting this tips.

  10. Ijaz May 25, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    That’s really helpful.i really enjoye it. Bundle of thanx

  11. james September 6, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

    ey thanks for making my day I just past a class test today because of the format posted

    • Lia
      Lia September 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

      That’s cool James, well done