Don’t Misunderestimate the Salescallsiness of a Job Inteview (Career Tip Number 20)

job interview

No need to be quite like this guy, but do try to sell yourself

That’s right, salescallsiness [1].

Not entirely a proper word, but it conveys the urgency  and passion that candidates should feel when they’re sitting across the table from *any* prospective employer, be it a company looking to hire, or a prospective customer looking to hire their services[2].

The listless salesperson will be vanquished by the one with zeal and passion.  The unprepared by the prepared.  And the indifferent by the one who engages the prospect and stokes their interest.  Remember  A=attention, I=Interest, D=Decision and A=Action?

Picture this: a candidate travels all the way across North America to a job interview for a six-figure professional position.  Does she take notes? Does she ask thoughtful, well-researched questions? Does she even have a portfolio of papers?  Most importantly, does she sell herself as the solution to all our problems.  The sad, across-the-board answer is a probably not.

Putting your services in the best possible light

The hiring decision-makers (managers, company owner or human resources, whomever they may be) are all thinking the same thing: will this solve a problem for the company/customer? What are the benefits? What can you do?  Will I regret my decision? Does this person have a hidden penchant for making racially insensitive jokes and drunken off-color remarks at the company dinner in front of the company president? And perhaps more importantly and maybe unconsciously, will this person make me any money?

There are no canned questions for satisfying the interviewer’s needs.

What there are, are basic principles and tenets of salesmanship. To wit, in no particular order:

Qualify the customer – Qualifying in the sense in the classic sense of why, where, who, when, how.  The why is obvious, the company has a need to hire and they’re talking to you.  The when is crucial in that how soon the offer needs to be tendered.  Do they have the means and budget to afford you, e.g. do they pay competitive market wages.  Who will make a decision, by committee or by the one or two people sitting in front of you?

People buy benefits, not features. Features are what’s on your resume. It’s what you can do with those attributes for the company. Here’s X and I can do Y uper that you achieved “X” for your previous employer or customer. What will this do for the person that right this minute across the table? Be specific.   “I’m a good team builder, I give credit where it’s due, I’ll make you look good, I get along with  most people, and I’ll make you lots of money”.  Here’s why.

Take notes – As related to interviewing, basic sales skills that many candidates lack. Bring a fresh resume, bring pen and paper, jot down your thoughts. Better yet, bring examples of your work (presuming no pre-existing confidentiality agreement with prior employers/customers). Hard proof that you are what you say you are.

3. Being a good communicator. In other words, rehearse your sales pitch. The candidate should be able to answer to the very basic “tell me about yourself” on auto-pilot. But more importantly, and heading back to the salescallsiness, end with a variation on “and this is why I can make you money, you should buy from me, I’m a good fit for the position, etc.”  Stress the benefits, but do it quickly.  Your time there is limited.

4. Making eye contact.  Self-explanatory, yes?

5. Always carry a pen. And a highlighter, and a pencil and an erases. Multiple redundancies.

6. Always smile.  If the you have the personality of a breadstick, if you’re Eeyore personified, if you like to wear black because it “accurately reflects the emotional space you’re in right now“…. well you’ll need to work on changing.

10. What not to say. Stay away from cliches, for heaven’s sake. The first salesdude that uses “win-win” gets a metaphorical throat-punch and ass-kick out the door. Win-win? Please… Similarly, in your written or verbal material stay away from trite buzzwords and buzzphrases that will paint you as a hack: “think outside the box”, synergies, team player, proactive, results-driven, goal-oriented. Please, stop it.

And… that’s about it, all tapped for now on the topic of interviews. Perhaps next time we’ll talk about the fascinating subject of team dynamics or olla irrigation methods for your vegetable carden.  Posting has been dreadfully sparse lately, mostly because of the FIRST Robotics Competition season in March.  Number One Son is on the team, and Number Two Son looks dead set and determined to do the same next season.  And 101 Centavos pere’? Condemned to be a mentor, provide team support, and disburse large sums of money.  Perhaps the best way then not to miss out on the next post is to subscribe by Email and/or Twitter .

[1] It’s my blog, and I’ll invent words if I want to.

Think on all the service providers that pay sales calls door-to-door, looking to sell whatever they were selling: pest control services, tree trimming, lawn and garden or just general fundraising. While some might look like they’d rather be somewhere else, some of them know they’ve only got a small window of time to close the sale.

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  1. Great post and advice.
    It remains stunning to me how few people do these simple things. Those that do, have the field to themselves.
    I just sent the link to my about-to-graduate daughter.
    jlcollinsnh recently posted..Q&A II: Salamat

  2. One of the things I always recommend for job interviews is to consider your physical presentation. Just as you wouldn’t want to purchase life insurance from someone who was dressed like a slob, you wouldn’t want to hire someone who was poorly dressed. I think most people recognize this fact, but I think explaining it in terms of a sales-pitch scenario can be valuable for all the reasons you’ve mentioned here.
    The Wallet Doctor recently posted..How to reduce your food costs


  1. […] Centavos reminds you that your phone interview is really the first sales opportunity of your next new job.  (We’re waiting for robotics posts, but we’re happy about the GGR […]

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