Interviewing for a new job can be an intimidating and uncomfortable experience. It can leave many feeling exposed and vulnerable as they struggle to effectively communicate why they are perfect for the role.
One way to tackle this is to take a step back from the process by approaching the exercise as a sales person would – whereby your professional profile is the product, and the interviewers are your potential customer.
By stepping back in this way and applying tried and tested sales techniques, it can help you to gain focus on the task at hand and ultimately communicate with interviewers better.
Next time you’re facing an interview process you’re worried about, why not try stepping into the shoes of a salesperson:
Find out the names and job titles of the people that will be interviewing you. Research them online by Googling their name, job title and the company name. Look them up on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, like Twitter. Try to get a feel for the type of people they are and, perhaps, anything about them you might be able to use to connect with them and build rapport when you meet.
Research the company too via Google, the company’s social media presence and companieshouse.gov.uk. Gathering this knowledge should help you to build a picture of the company culture, the company’s size, strengths, and activities. You can then draw some conclusions as to what their current priorities might be.
This will allow you to frame your interview answers for best effect, as well as demonstrating your knowledge of the company – showing off the effort and consideration you’ve already invested in securing the role – which is an indication to the interviewer of your character and the type of employee you are likely to be.
Ask directly and ask around – what’s the expectation as to dress code at the company and for interviews specifically? As damaging as turning up in jeans to a smart-dress office can be, it’s increasingly important not to be overdressed for more casual work environments.
Granted, most reasonable people are not going to think badly of you if you’ve put the effort into wearing a suit but, if the interviewer dresses in jeans and trainers, then it’s just another barrier for them to overcome in identifying with you and picturing you working in the business. Why risk that, especially when another candidate may turn up dressed ready to fit-in?
When you meet, it’s important you demonstrate within the first couple of minutes that;
1. You’re enthusiastic
2. You’re bright
3. You’re interesting
Your aim should be to bring excitement and energy into the room. Too many people are bored or boring. Having someone genuinely enthusiastic and interesting enter the room is unusual and immediately engages the interviewer…whether they are conscious of this or not.
At the same time, be careful not to overdo it. At all times in the interview the best thing you can do is to project yourself as being;
Once the formalities are over, your goal is to develop a rapport with your interviewers as quickly as possible. To do so, you need to position yourself as a trusted solution to the interviewers need/problem. That means becoming seen as an expert, or potential expert, in what they’ve brought you there for – whether that’s fast food service or civil engineering consulting!
Being seen as expert hinges on trust. How can you persuade the interviewer to trust you to deliver what they need in the role?
As well as positioning yourself as an expert, or potential expert, you need to help the interviewer understand the way you work, your values, etc. You might do this in response to specific questions, or by way of the details you drop into otherwise less useful (to you) interview questions.
Above all, the goal is to humanise yourself and not to be just another candidate but, a unique individual that could bring something special to the role.
You can achieve much of this with the emotion you inject into your answers – the content must be right of course but, try to put across answers which position you as passionate but reasonable, empathetic, trustworthy, and which show you have their/the business’s best interests at heart.
If you managed all of that well, then you should now be in a position where your interviewers see you as being the solution to their needs/problems, and they both like you as an individual and trust you as a professional to work well in their business. The final step is to close it – just like any other sale.
It is at this point where the often dreaded ‘do you have any questions for us’ becomes a huge opportunity – even more so for you, as most candidates don’t recognise it as such, so won’t be leveraging it.
In amongst the more standard questions you may have about the role, you should ask some questions which provide an opportunity for ‘future pacing’. Future pacing is when you help the interviewer imagine you already being in the role, and positive outcomes being realised as a result.
If you get the interviewer imagining these scenarios, you make it far easier for them to make a decision in your favour on the risk/reward balance they will weigh up in their head.
Questions which set scenarios with you in the role and allow you to input into the resulting conversation with examples of positive outcomes which may result, are perfect for getting interviewers to firm up their view of you as a safe bet.
People want to feel confident they are making the right decision – so help them to do so.
As any good salesperson knows, the follow-up to an excellent meeting is vital.
Even if it was the best interview you ever had, there is no telling what could happen in the time between you leaving the room and the final decision to award the position to someone.
If you’re passive and just wait to hear what is decided, you probably leave your chances of securing a decision in your favour no better than 50/50 – luck that the decision makers will remember just how good you interviewed and how confident they felt about you at the time.
If you follow-up with a quality email, however, timed right, you can reaffirm the good work you put in during the interview – prompting memories of the impression you made on the interviewers and placing you top of their minds when they come to consider a final decision.
Do you believe it’s a great product?
Then sell it!
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