When you get right down to it, a job interview is nothing but a sales pitch in which you’re selling yourself. Sales people are masters of understanding the needs of potential clients and knowing how their product or service can meet those needs. Even if you aren’t born to be a salesperson, you may find yourself using many of their techniques to help you close the deal on a perfect job.
“Just like in sales, an employer is ultimately making an investment in you, not just your skillset,” said Greta Schulz, owner of Schulz Sales Consulting, a company that provides sales training for entrepreneurs and businesses. “A job interview is just the first step in building a rich relationship that will benefit both you and your employer for years to come.”
Practice your pitch
No salesperson walks into a first sales meeting without knowing their pitch backward and forward. It’s hard to get job interview experience, but you can practice common interview questions with your spouse or friend a few times before you walk into the real thing. You already know your work experience, but practicing how you talk about it will keep you from searching frantically for the perfect answer.
Understand their needs
Sales is all about understanding a potential client’s needs and matching your product or service to meet and exceed their expectations. A job interview is no different. Once you see a job description, research the company to understand how you will be a good fit with the company. It’s not enough to tell how you’ll be good for the job; you have to convince an interviewer why you will be better than anyone else.
Make an emotional appeal
Don’t just talk about your skills. Talk about your passions. Once you know how you can meet a company’s needs, it’s time to talk about how the company can meet yours. It’s not enough to want a job; you need to want this job.
Sell your success
A good salesperson never hesitates to share past success, and neither should you. Once you have a good understanding of the company and its industry, look back at your work or school experience for accomplishments that show leadership and creativity. Even if you don’t have any specific experience for the job you’re applying for, you can show competence and confidence in your abilities to overcome any challenge your new job might throw at you. Group projects or leadership in campus organizations count as work experience, so don’t hesitate to tout your collegiate accomplishments.
Build a relationship
Don’t just talk about yourself and your past experience. Your cover letter and resume have probably given your interviewer a good idea of what you can do. Like a salesperson, you want to create a connection and a lasting impression with your interviewer. It’s okay to talk about things that aren’t strictly related to your work experience as long as you remain professional and interesting. Being qualified for the job is only half the battle; you also need to show your interviewer that you will be able to fit in the company culture.
You probably know that a follow-up email or call to your interviewer is standard practice, but failure to do so can be a black mark on an otherwise sterling interview. Throughout the interview process, your goal should be to create a memorable connection that makes you the natural choice for the job. Don’t let a simple thank-you note make you slip into the back of the interview file.
Erin Leigh is a freelance writer for New American Funding, a direct mortgage lender and HARP 2.0 lender licensed in 21 states, which helps homeowners save money on their mortgages.