At some point in your career I’ll bet you will be interviewing for a sales position. Recently a client asked me to interview candidates for a sales position. Some of the candidates’ performance was surprising. Some made some basic mistakes and others didn’t do all they could for the best consideration. Here are some tactics for your job interview the next time you’re looking for a sales position.
Your sale doesn’t start when you sit down in the seat opposite your prospect. Neither does your job interview. Your preparation, at a minimum, should include extensive research on your prospective employer’s website. I typically start with a question about what the candidate knows about the company. I’ll ask if they had a chance to look at the website. Checking the website is a necessary, basic task. I’m also curious about what they thought since effective communication is part of the function of a website. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t on the website by asking these candidates their opinion.
There are no interview “points” for those candidates who say, “No, I didn’t have a chance to look at the website.” What that shows is their poor judgment or worse their laziness. Neither are good for a sales position.
Certainly you would check out your computer equipment before the interview if you’re interviewing virtually. Candidate lose when the screen is dark during an interview. There were several candidates who couldn’t get their cameras working. They lost valuable consideration because of the malfunction.
Recognize you are selling and you’re the product in a sales interview.
You wouldn’t start the sales call with a presentation of your product before you knew why a customer might buy. It is a rookie sales mistake to start the presentation before you understand your customer’s needs and situation. New or nervous salespeople often make the mistake. That’s what one candidate did.
After I thanked him for meeting with me, he launched into a monologue about why he was a stellar candidate. He emphasized different sales skills that weren’t the most important ones for this position. He was talking about himself even before I asked him a question or he asked me one. I crossed him off the list of viable candidates. It was surprising he had been in sales over 10 years.
Be an active participant in the interview.
At the end of every interview I’ll ask the candidate if he has any questions for me. Many candidates don’t have any or say that you answered all their questions. The latter is fine. The former is not. Be sure to have a few questions ready to ask your interviewer about the interviewing process or the company.
You could ask when the company expects to complete the interviewing process and offer acceptable candidates a position. You could ask about future plans or growth strategies for the company. Other questions could be about growth opportunities for candidates after employment, strategy changes the company is considering, or challenges the candidate would face in the position. Consider your interview a success if you’ve asked a few questions during the interview. Consider yourself missing the mark if you’ve not asked one question during your interview.
Ideally your preparation for the interview leads to your calmness. You’re ready for whatever happens. That’s a great position to be in before a very important sales call.