Mastering the 'Sell Me This Pen' Interview Question

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Mastering the 'Sell Me This Pen'...
Apr 21, 2023 5 min read

Quick Answer:
"""Sell me this pen"" is a popular interview question for sales and marketing positions that evaluates critical skills. The question is not about the pen, but rather your approach to selling. To nail the answer, show your sales technique, be enthusiastic, consider the customer's needs, be prepared for refusals, and create urgency with a special offer. Example answers include emphasizing the pen's reliability and including a special offer."

Going through job interviews, you will encounter many different questions.

One of the most challenging ones is the prompt from the interviewer “Sell me this pen”.

You will most likely encounter it if you are applying for a sales position, but it might also come out of the blue.

It might seem scary at first, but if you are well-prepared, you can nail it.

In this article, we are going to help you get there by exploring the following questions:

  • Why do recruiters want you to “Sell them this pen”?
  • What is the best approach to “Sell me this pen”?

And once we have these answers, we will wrap things up with some great example answers to get you started.

So, if it all sounds good, let’s dive in.

Why do recruiters want you to “Sell them this pen”?

It will not be a surprise to you that the recruiter does not actually want you to sell them a pen, but rather to evaluate some critical skills for positions like sales and marketing.

The question is not so much about the pen, so don’t focus on it. It is all about your approach.

Your answers primarily shows whether you can sell, and what sales strategies you use.

But that’s not all, recruiters also get some essential information about skills like:

  • How convincing you are
  • Your ability to think on your feet
  • Your communication abilities

The question might not be about a pen, but rather about an apple, or anything else around you, but the thing you need to remember is that you need to show your sales technique, rather than talking about the pen.

Best approach to “Sell me this pen”

Now that you understand why recruiter want you to “sell them this pen”, it is time to learn what is the best way to do so.

You can nail your answer in just a few simple steps.

Don’t decline to answer

You might feel uncomfortable answering this questions, or you might not feel like showcasing your skill set, but refusing to answer is absolutely not an option.

This question is as important for you, as it is for the interviewer, and you need to take it seriously.

You need to show them that you are comfortable as a salesperson, and that you are willing to sell anything.

Show you are optimistic and enthusiastic

When you start your answer, make sure you present the product in an enthusiastic and optimistic matter.

You need to ensure that both your voice and your facial expressions show that, as these are just as important as the words you are going to use.

If you feel comfortable about it, you can also include some gestures to reinforce your belief in the product’s value.

Consider the customer’s needs

What you need to remember to nail your answer is that you would not want to sell a pen to someone who doesn’t want a pen.

However, that does not mean that you should just give up. Instead, you need to consider the customer’s needs in order to figure out how they would decide they want it.

To get the best out of your answer, you should first start with asking a few initial questions to get to know the customer and decide on the best approach.

Here are a few questions you can ask to get you started:

  • What excites the customer about the pen?
  • Why would you be talking to the customer in the first place?
  • What would be a deal-breaker for the customer?
  • What are the biggest pain points for the customer?

Once you have all that initial information, you can decide on a sales approach and figure out the best way to reach the desired outcome – buying a pen.

Be prepared for refusals

What you need to remember is that not every time you sell something, you would be able to finish the sale.

And it is possible that the interviewer would choose to go in that direction, and say that they don’t want the pen.

However, that does not mean that you should give up right away. There are a variety of reasons why they might not want the pen, including:

  • They don’t know how much they need it
  • They don’t understand the price structure, and think they can’t afford it
  • They might not like the color or the design

You need to make sure they understand it all, and always be prepared with similar options in different styles to offer.

But, if after all that the customer still does not want the pen, you need to be prepared to take no for an answer.

Create urgency

One last trick you can use to convince the customer to buy the pen is to create urgency and tell them they have to act now, or the opportunity might be gone forever.

After creating the urgency, you would also want to add in some special offer or time-sensitive deal, so that they have to act fast.

Example answers for “Sell me this pen”

And now that you know everything needed to “Sell the recruiter this pen”, it is time to check out some great example to get you started on your own answer.

Example 1

You: When was the last time you used a pen?

Interviewer: About an hour ago.

You: And why were you using it?

Interviewer: I had to take some notes during a conference call.

You: Can you tell me about a time that you were let down by a pen?

Interviewer: Yes, just yesterday I was taking notes during an important meeting with a potential client, and my pen kept running out of ink.

You: That’s awful. And I can see you are a person with great responsibilities, and you should not worry whether your pen is reliable or not. This pen here will not give out on you. It has integrated a refillable ink compartment, and as a new customer, you will receive 10 free ink refills absolutely free. Not only that, but if you buy one today, you will get a second pen for 50% off the price. So, what do you say, are you ready to leave your pen worries behind, and focus on growing your company?

Example 2

You: You might think that what I am holding in my hand is just a writing tool, but actually it is a way that we leave our mark. Can you please tell me what was the last event you used a pen for?

Interviewer: To write a thank you note for a present I received for my 50th birthday.

You: That’s great, you don’t see many handwritten thank you notes in today’s technology era. Would you share who was the thank you note for?

Interviewer: Of course, it was for my children.

You: Think for a moment what would it mean to send a computer typed thank you note. In my opinion, all sentiment would be gone, but with a handwritten note, you can give them something special that they would cherish forever.

Interviewer: Yes, I absolutely agree, I still preserve a Christmas card that my mother gave me when I turned 8, and I feel like she is right there with me every time I look at it.

You: That’s exactly why I need to sell you this pen – so that you would be able to preserve your energy and spirit in the notes and cards you send out, so that your children would feel you close to them forever. Let’s make this happen.


We are all done, now you know how to nail your answer when prompted to “sell this pen” during an interview.

Let’s go through all the important steps you need to take, to make sure you’ve got everything right:

  • Don’t decline to answer – no matter how you feel about the question, you are being asked to “sell this pen” for a reason, and the worst thing you can do is decline to do so.
  • Show you are optimistic and enthusiastic – you need to show the interviewer that you are happy to offer them the pen, not only with your words, but also with your voice and gestures
  • Consider the customer’s needs – try to learn more about the customer with some initial questions, and pick the right sales strategy to get them to want the pen
  • Be prepared for refusals – not every sale ends successfully, but before giving up, make sure you explain everything to the customer. However, if their answer is still a “no”, you should be prepared to take it
  • Create urgency – try to intrigue the customer by offering them a time-limited deal, and also sweeten the deal with some special offer they would only get now.

Take one more look at our example answers for “sell me this pen”, and prepare your own for your next job interview.

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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He has written more than 500 resume guides and deep-dive articles on how to create your resume and cover letter, that inspire job applicants to make a resume to be proud of. His work has been featured in Forbes, Zendesk, HubSpot, and Business Insider, and cited by top universities and educational institutions, like Thunderbird School of Management, Rochester University, University of Miami, and Udemy. Volen applies his deep knowledge and practical experience to write about career changes, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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