It is common knowledge that interviews are about selling yourself to your potential employer. This means that you can prepare for an interview using some basic sales techniques to help you stand out from the competition and close the deal – getting a job offer.
Here are the key sales techniques you can utilise to accomplish this:
1. Conduct thorough research on your prospect (your target company). Come to the interview armed with all the background information you may need and all your questions prepared. Remember: your purpose here is to identify the need (or better, needs) that your prospect has and that you are capable of fulfilling. In this case, the main need is clear – there is an opening and they need a qualified person to fill it. However, all your competition is aware of the same need. What you need to do is to drill further using questions you have prepared to uncover other more subtle needs the competition may have missed. The secret here is to spend as much time on thinking about the questions you will be asking as on the actual practice of the questions they may be asking you. Take this interview into your control in order for you to lead the meeting. And for that, you need skillful and targeted questions.
2. Once you have discovered these additional needs, you need to construct a short pitch specifying why you are the one able to satisfy these needs in the best possible way. The hardest thing is that you may need to improvise at the interview but to make this process smoother you can design your so-called ‘elevator’ pitch ahead of time prior to the actual meeting. Keep it short and to the point and use it as an opportunity to showcase your unique selling points – why and how you are different from all the rest. Then during the interview you can tailor it to the particular needs identified. Practise the pitch ahead of the interview a number of times in front of others and ask for feedback – you really need to get as close to ‘perfect’ as possible.
3. You can bring some further information about yourself to the interview – anything that can enhance your personal brand and build up rapport and trust between you and your prospect the hiring manager conducting the interview. It could be a link to your blog, articles you have published, evidence of conferences you have presented at. Be careful selecting the most effective evidence – your aim is to help speed up the selection process in your favour not hinder it.
4. At the end of the interview, don’t just leave with nothing apart from a brief thank you. Just like an experienced salesperson would do, you should ask for the next steps from their side and whether they liked what they saw and if they have any particular points of concern you can address. It may be hard, but based on their answer you will be able to judge the main concerns and tackle them there and then. It is a pro-active approach that shows your passion for the job and the company. Some very brave interviewees steer the conversation towards interviewers themselves speaking about why you would be a good fit for the role, in effect doing your sales job for you.
I hope you can apply the four sales tips about to make you successful at interviews and help you close that deal.