Interview Successfully Being Prepared to Sell

An interesting twist is to go into an interview considering your primary role is to sell your skills and capabilities.

Sales people listening to a story from the buyerLets start with the definition of a “sale”. According to wiki: A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. Considering we are going into an interview with the desire of landing a new job with a pay check, based on the definition, to interview is selling. The objective of the interview is to sell our “capabilities” as a new employee.

Now let’s use street-smarts to figure out what role we need to play during the interview process.

If you ask a group of people how many of you like to “buy”, most people will raise their hand.  Now ask, how many of you “like to be sold to”, very rarely is there a lone hand left in the sky. What’s the difference?

Three simple words, “being sold to”. If you ask the same crowd, what occurred during those times you had an enjoyable buying experience, common responses include:

  • The sales person helped me match what I wanted to achieve with the right product/service for my needs.
  • The sales person was knowledgeable about “how” the product/service is “used”.
  • Listening to the sales person, they were competent in their field of expertise.
  • Never once did the sales person ask me for the order.

Questions I have heard in the past at this point are: “Let me get this straight? Are you saying a positive buying experience can be brought about by focusing more on what the customer wants, not the sales method?”

It is not about “how you sell”, it is about “how they buy”.

A consultative sales approach focusing on the customers needs is what we recommend during the interview process. The customer during the interview is the one with the money, “those” we are facing across the table. Notice the word “those”, because it is common during the interview process, we will face a “buying committee”, not just one individual during a single interview.

Each company goes about finding and deciding on who to hire in a thousand different ways. It is our job to use “customer sensing” skills to determine where in the buying cycle the decision makers are at and match our “sales cycle” to their “buying cycle”. There are 3 main phases as individuals make buying, (or hiring), decisions:

  • Discovery
  • Evaluation
  • Commitment

The discovery phase moves into evaluation after the buying committee, (which can be a single person), has a vision of a solution around the type of individual skill sets and capabilities which can satisfy their needs and have determined to hire somebody.

Part of our “sales role” during the hiring process is to understand the needs of the buying committee for the position being considered.

The buying committee has skill sets and capabilities they desire hiring. We need to match these up to what we can offer as a potential employee. I’ve had some ask at this point, “Doesn’t my resume do all of this?” The short answer is no. If all any boss needed was to review a resume to make a hiring decision, why waste time interviewing?

One piece of the puzzleThis is not to say a resume is not important at the right time, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Same goes for the interview, they are important, yet they are not the “end game” many believe they are. Especially in today’s market place.

Hidden Job Market: It is estimated that only 20% of all jobs are ever advertised, meaning 80% of jobs are filled by companies who never advertised the position.

This one fact is changing the land scape of the hiring process for the foreseeable future. Positions are being posted internally to the company. However, for most jobs there is no advertising done outside the company allowing external individuals to submit resumes and “hope” for an interview.

As a new potential employee graduating from school, we might begin to wonder, if nobody places ads for new positions, how do I find the right company? Unfortunately this article is already too long and we’ll cover this under the category, “Finding Companies”.

Let’s presume we were referred to a company by a friend and are heading to the interview. Our bright and shinning resume has been mailed in advance. We’ve checked on the dress code of the company and are dressed one step above those who will interview me.

All I need to do is show up and throw up. Prepared to talk about all the great things I’ve done in the past and embrace my shinning resume with all of the “features” about my life up to this point. I’ve “assumed” the interview is for them to describe the open position to me and ask questions around my resume. Then the first questions begin and I realize how un-prepared I am for what is going to happen…

If you are not prepared for the following types of questions, be prepared for “sweaty armpit time”.

  • I reviewed your resume, tell me, why do you want to work for us?
  • Outside of this position, what other types of positions are you currently interviewing for in the market?
  • In many interviews the last thing asked is what questions do you have for me. Let’s start here today, what questions do you have for me?
  • Thinking about my company, tell me, why should we consider hiring you in this position?

Many interviewers have been trained to look beyond your resume to determine, (back to their discovery process), what skill sets and capabilities do you bring to the table which match up to the open position.

Interviewing the first time is not as bad as public speaking, yet it is very close.

The best thing you can do is be prepared and “practice”. Determine your best capabilities and match these up as strengths to overcome your weaknesses. Be prepared to discuss both during any conversation of the hiring process.

If you have gotten this far, you are likely beginning to see how the hiring process is a buying cycle. This requires different skill sets as a potential employee looking for a career, which go far beyond writing a resume and mailing them to any company posting jobs.

Now that we have covered the “what” and “why” behind being prepared to match up your skills and capabilities with the hiring process, which we define as a “buying cycle”. We can move on to the “how” behind a successfull interview and finding the right companies to work for, what we refer to as “your sweetspot“.

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