Selling is simply effective communication.
Using a proven sales methodology can not only help you sell a product, service or idea but it can also help you effectively communicate during a job interview when the thing you're trying to sell is you.
Good jobs can be hard to come by.
Job applicants who can effectively communicate and "sell" themselves will not only be able to perform their jobs better but they'll be able to get better jobs in the first place.
I have been teaching about selling for more than 40 years and I have seen how its universal applicability can give job seekers a huge advantage. Most applicants don't understand that getting your next job will depend on how well you can sell yourself.
Everything that I've seen relating to job interviewing is mostly wrong.
The typical job interview goes like this: The interviewer says something like, "Tell me about yourself" or "What are some of the projects that you worked on in your last position that you're proud of?"
From that point on the interview goes downhill.
Because the interviewer will be bored stiff by whatever you say.
There's a basic rule in selling:
You cannot sell anyone anything unless you have control of the conversation.
This probably applies more to getting a job than selling a product or service. The only way you know what someone is thinking is when he or she is the one talking - not you.
Think about how differently the interview would go if you responded to the interviewer's question, "Tell me about yourself," with, "I'd like to tell you about myself. However, could I first ask you a couple of questions regarding the position?"
Now you have control of the interview and you know what the interviewer is thinking. Using this one phrase, you have put the interview "on track."
The following are seven steps to selling as they apply to a successful job interview:
Step one - approach:
In this step, you'll introduce yourself, smile, be engaged and interested in what the interviewer is saying. You'll use the interviewer's name when addressing him or her and you'll develop rapport by using what we call the FSQS (friendly silent questioning stare). This is body language that shows you're listening intently, inviting the interviewer to tell you more.
Step two - qualification:
This is the portion of the interview where the "Tell me about yourself" question occurs. Get the interviewer talking with a response like, "Mary, I would like to tell you about myself. However, first I would like to ask a couple of questions. Is that all right?" When she agrees, you'll ask a series of questions to gain the information you need to assess whether the position is right for you.
Step three - agreement on need:
This where you'll ask the most important question of all: "What are some of the things you are looking for in a candidate for this position?" This is how you'll determine whether the job fits you. If it doesn't, this is the time to gracefully terminate the interview. Say that this position isn't what you're looking for, thank the interviewer for his or her time and politely excuse yourself.
Step four - sell the company:
This is normally the step in the selling process where you extol the virtues of your company. Since you are the "company," share your own attributes. "John, let me tell you a little about myself." Make sure that the things you talk about relate to the job, such as your education and experience. You could share information about your goals, travel or family situation if they are relevant. Finally, ask, "What questions do you have about my background?" to get the interviewer talking again.
Step five - fill the need:
In this step you'll drive home why you're the one for the job. Say something like, "There are several important experiences I would bring to the company and this position such as ..." and then relate how your education, experience, goals, etc. will benefit the company in a series of feature/benefit/reaction sequences. These sequences should be specific. "My fluency in Mandarin Chinese along with my five years of experience selling in China (feature) will help me increase your company's sales in Asia (benefit)." Then, ask a "reaction question": "How would that help with your sales goals for this year?" Limit your feature/benefit/reaction sequences to three. Now transition to the next step by asking a release question such as, "What questions do you have?" Once the interviewer has asked any clarifying questions, this is the time to ask about compensation and estimated start date for the position. "When would you like the new person to start?"
Step six - act of commitment:
This is the close of the "sale." Make a statement such as, "If I can arrange my schedule to start on the date you would like and my references check out can you think of any reason why you wouldn't hire me?" Unlike most interviews that end with the interviewer saying, "We'll call you," this closing approach allows for honesty between you and the interviewer. You're communicating your interest in the position and if he or she is interested in you, you'll most likely get an indication at this point.
Step seven - cement the sale:
This is your graceful exit from the interview. Say something like, "Thanks very much for meeting with me. I appreciate you taking the time to give me the information on the position and the company. I look forward to starting on Jan. 15." This confirms the specifics of what you and the interviewer discussed and it's a friendly, professional close to the interview. Remember to shake the interviewer's hand as you leave.
Follow up the next day with a handwritten, mailed thank-you card. The process of landing a job can be much easier when you know how to sell yourself.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.