Thursday, November 22, 2012

Applying Sales Technique to the Interview Process

To begin, after my last posting I received an email from someone taking issue with the sales analogy I am suggesting. Then they went on to proclaim their years of experience, but at the same time complained they’ve sent lots of emailed resumes and never received any replies so it must be the fault of the market. Frankly, the email and complaint proves my point that some people just can’t and won’t get it. I suggested if they take issue, they should continue to do what they’ve been doing and, perhaps, if they cross their fingers and wish hard enough, everything will work out for them. You see, I am tone deaf to whiners and, for the record, I’m not trying to appeal to everyone’s sensitivities, because when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one and get nowhere. My goal is to help people gain an advantage, an edge over the rest who keep doing the same things with the same results (or the lack thereof) and think that’s okay. If trying new approaches is too scary, then stay right where you are and keep on doing the same things. When you wake up, you can change your strategy whenever you so choose. So, where was I…

In any sales meeting, as with an interview, you don’t just lay a product brochure on the desk and expect this is all that’s necessary to get them to buy the product you are promoting. So, why then, do many people rely so heavily on a resume to speak for them? It’s the same difference, isn’t it? A sales person provides marketing materials and brochures, but they then set the stage by building and reinforcing their claim for what the product can do by presenting features and benefits to the customer. Ultimately they watch and listen for buying signs and then they ask for, or close, the sale. When you interview and your stated goal is to get a job offer, you are doing exactly the same thing. No ifs, ands or buts, this is the reality and a perfect analogy for what you are trying to accomplish. Perhaps you do not feel confident that you can do this or comfortable with what I am suggesting. If you know certain people who seem to have no problem getting a job, in a few cases it may be because they are just that good at what they do and have a resume that just glows with experience and accomplishment, but most times it is because they are very good with people, they possess good interpersonal communication skills. A small percentage of people just have it and it is a learned behavior for the rest of us. There are a lot of interview tips I can and will suggest but, for now it’s understanding the power of employing sales closing techniques and the differences between some of the more common “closes”. Once we accomplish this, then we’ll work on all the stuff in-between so that when you start applying some new things to your repertoire, you will be much more formidable when you compete with others during the interview process. You’ll be not only more effective but you’ll set yourself apart from the rest of the sheep who are content with doing the same things. That’s fine for them, but not for you.

Closing techniques are used through the process and at different times during an interview; they are called test closes. Think of yourself walking in the dark and reaching out occasionally to know where you are in relation to where you want to be. But primarily the close should be a critical piece of your strategy at the end of any interview to gain information about where you stand in the process; will there be a next step and what will it be. Of course, they might prevaricate for a number of reasons, but as a participant in the process, you have every right to ask for this information. It also communicates to them a few things:
  • You are a proactive candidate who is fully engaged in the process
  • You are demonstrating clear interest in the position being discussed
  • You are taking some measure of control of your fate – as you should
  • You are setting yourself apart from the majority of others
Most people do not even attempt to close the interview and the most they do is make a squishy attempt on their way out the door and say something like, “Thank you, I hope I hear from you.” Perhaps you’ve done this, I certainly did years ago but it isn’t very effective at leaving an impression that differs from anyone else.

There are many different ways to close an interview and we’ll discuss them but there are three primary closes I want you to learn to use. Which one you employ depends on the circumstance. They are:
  • Direct close
  • Alternate close
  • Assumptive close
These are closing techniques every sales person knows. I’ll suggest examples and although there may be some people who differ a bit with my interpretation, it’s my blog, my interpretation.
Feel free to discuss this post in the forum(no registration required).