So Mr. or Ms. CEO, in my last post I talked about the first two parts of your company’s base - the product (you) and marketing. Now you need to focus on selling you. This is the point of the interview. Selling is a six step process. You cannot skip any of the steps - ever - under any circumstances. The interviewer, however, can skip some or most of these steps if he/she so desires.
Step 1 - The introduction - Before you can have an interview, you must be introduced. This may happen through your resume, through a referral, or through a cold call. You are looking for an invitation to discuss, not you or you getting a job, but how you can become a valuable asset to the company.THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS YOU MUST REMAIN AWARE THAT THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. IT IS ABOUT HOW YOU CAN HELP THE COMPANY.
Step 2 - Gaining Favorable Attention - People hire people they like. Hiring is an emotional decision, justified later with facts. Be personable, check out the office for clues about the interviewer and use those to generate favorable attention. You will know when you have been successful when the interviewer moves on. I know one young man who never got past this stage and was hired a week later. You cannot fake or pretend to be something you are not. Above all, be yourself.
Step 3 -Discovering Wants and Needs - Here is where many people make an incredibly damaging error. They immediately launch into their sales pitch, assuming that because they know the position for which the company is hiring, they know what the company needs. If you have ever walked onto a used car lot and got assaulted by an aggressive salesperson trying to make quota, you will understand this. They try to sell you the cherry red Corvette (higher commission), when you are looking for a minivan for the family. The harder they try to sell you, the more resistant you become. Ask questions and look for clues. Is the interviewer focused only on one aspect of the position? A good question might be - “If you were to hire me tomorrow, what are the first three things you would want me to work on?” They will tell you their pain. Another good question is "What are the top three traits you are looking for from the person who fills this position?" They will tell you their pain.
Step 4 - Present a Solution - Now that you know want they really need, you can present yourself as the solution. Tell a story about what you did at XYZ Company that compares to the solution that they need. Talk about your skill sets (using examples wherever possible) that demonstrate that you can solve their problem. Be focused and confident. You must believe it in order to sell it.
Step 5 - Overcoming Objections - This is one of the more difficult steps. Up to this point, you have probably had a relatively nice conversation. Now you must get feedback. Do not be afraid to ask for it. If you do not know what the objections are, you cannot rebut them. A good technique would be to ask “Is there anything in my background and experience that might lead you to think that I am not the right person for the position?”. You might not have covered the one thing that most interests the company. If the objection is real, do not be afraid to admit it. Do not blow smoke. That acknowledgement might be what impresses them most, especially if you can couple it with a possible solution like additional training. I know one lady, in a follow-up interview with the SVP, was told that she did not fit the local office culture to which she replied “Thank God, I knew I did not fit there”. The SVP hired her for another office instead.
Step 6 - Closing the Deal - You need to reiterate your interest in the position and ask for the job. Many people assume the company knows they are interested, while the company assumes that they really are not. If the previous 5 steps were executed well, they may put an offer on the table immediately. If they have more interviews, set a time and method for your follow-up and be sure to follow-up promptly. Make sure you send thank you notes to everyone who interviewed you. In the note, thank them for their time, reiterate your interest and a few key points from the meeting, and restate your follow-up timing and method.
You are a valuable product that any company should want. Believe that, follow the steps, and happy selling!
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