Whether you’re an engineer, a customer service agent, gardener or accountant, odds are you’ve had to rely on something other than satisfying the minimum qualifications of a job to get hired.
But just what is that ‘something’ that sets you apart from everyone else? An ivy league education? References from a powerful and influential family friend with ties to your prospective employer’s management team? In a few cases, perhaps. However, more often than not, the likely reason is that you have employed some sort of successful sales technique to persuade employers that you are the person they want.
Even for the non-sales professional, successfully utilizing basic sales techniques in a job interview can make the difference in being ‘the one’ from being the fine ‘back-up’ candidate.
Here are four great sales tips candidates should take note of, provided by Nick Moreno, founder of The National Sales Center, an organization promoting excellence in salesmanship. These tips can easily be adapted for any interview situation:
- Listen to your prospect, or in this case - your interviewer. Contrary to the caricatured notion of sales professionals being non-stop talkers about their products or services, the art of selling is all about listening to the other person’s needs and figuring how they can address those needs with what they bring to the table. To adapt this to the interview setting, ask questions that follow up on topics your interviewer brought up during the interview. Actively listen for any 'insider’ news or details you probably would not have picked up through your own research.
Does it sound like the current team is in need of a statistical analysis guru? Or, perhaps you sense that the environment emphasizes ‘team project’ rather than individualized work.
You should listen for hints that may serve as basis for further conversation about what is needed in the potential role. Therefore, when the interviewer asks the standard “What questions do you have for me?” at the end of the interview, you have a great opportunity to pose a question she hasn’t ever heard before.
- Show how you add value. Most positions are created because there’s a critical need for a particular skill. For example, while many people can claim they know accounting and finance laws pertaining to compliance because they studied it in school, a strong candidate can demonstrate her true expertise by offering specific examples that show how she contributed to monthly, quarterly, and yearly audit projects focused on compliance needs at a company. Building off of your pre-interview preparation and research, you’ll want to be ready to share specific examples that highlight the ways you can contribute directly to the company’s goals quickly.
- Build trust. While it’s important to create a positive and pleasant first impression, you’ll want to do more than just strike a comfortable rapport with the person you hope to impress. You want to show that you are the ‘go to’ person the interviewer trusts in their time of need. This does not mean rattling off your extensive resume of accomplishments and awards -- rather, it’s in the subtle ways you communicate that lend to your credibility of being someone who can be trusted.
It’s more about the actions you show during the interview that speak to your trustworthiness and confidence as an expert resource. Not only are you actively listening to what the interviewer is saying, but you follow-up with smart, thoughtful questions and possible suggestions on how to approach challenges.
In addition to the content of your answers, the non-verbal communication you exude plays an important role. Don’t avoid eye contact when delivering your answer to the interviewer, and stop slumping in your chair when listening to the other person speak. Sit up straight, and interact. You want to project the picture of confidence and interest.
- Ask for the job. It’s so common for people to think they have the job ‘in the bag’ when they sit and take stock of how the interview went. They asked the right questions, engaged in a spirited, positive banter with their interviewers, and smiled often -- shouldn’t that be enough to get hired? The answer is no. As Moreno advises his new salespeople, never assume the prospect will choose you, even if you had a positive meeting. You have to ask directly for the business. Translating this to the interview setting, this means not only do you state your interest in the job, but more directly -- that you want the job.
This doesn't mean waiting to write it in an email or a follow-up thank-you note. State your interest and desire to add to the strength of the team at the conclusion of the interview with plenty of sincere energy and enthusiasm.
Expressing that as the last exchange between you and the interviewer will make it clear that you are serious about moving forward and that you believe you are the person to help them get where they would they want their team to be.