Strategic Interviewing Tips

4/8/2019, By Sze-Yen Chee


The job search process is remarkably similar to a sales process. The job seeker is the product, the resume is the product brochure, the customer is the hiring decision maker and the interview is the sales call.


No decent sales person would go for a client visit without preparation. The sales person would have done his homework on the needs and wants of his client, and then go on to prove that his product or service can solve the problem and meet the client’s needs. He would highlight features and benefits relevant to the current need and close the sale.


Similar to the sales situation, the job seeker should seek to understand the hiring manager’s needs and wants, and then go on to prove how hiring him will solve the problem. Basically answering the question: Why should the company hire me?


Here are 7 Tips to a Successful Interview


1)    Pre-meeting planning


In a survey done in the US in 2006 by a well known recruitment firm, the 2nd most common mistake of job seekers was lack of knowledge about the company or the position.


The job seeker should have done exhaustive research about the company when he first sent his resume there. He should try to find out as much as possible about the company’s products, challenges, reason for the role, the job scope, the hiring manager and any other information that would help him in the interview.


2)    Aim to achieve at least one objective


The super sales person always aims to achieve at least one objective for every sales call. Examples of such objectives are: To get to know the client’s needs better, to demonstrate the product or to close the sale. 


The job seeker too should aim to achieve at least one objective from that meeting: To gain further interviews, to learn about other possible opportunities in the company, to get past the screeners to get to the decision maker, to get a referral, or to have a chance to demonstrate his skills.


3)    Prepare carefully thought-out questions based on the research of the company


The super sales person asks lots of questions, and is therefore able to garner more information on his client’s needs and wants.


Candidates too should ask the interviewer more questions not only to get more information, but also to prove that he’s done his research. Insightful questions impress interviewers as much as good interview answers.


Here are some examples of generic questions candidates may ask during an interview.


·      What does it take to succeed in this role/in this company?

·      How would you describe the company, and what is your management style?

·      How would you measure the performance of the person in this role?

·      What are your expectations of the person in this role?

·      What kind of training is available?

·      What is your hiring process?

·      When can I expect to hear from you regarding next steps?

·      What are the major challenges of this role?


The job seeker should prepare more targeted questions based on his research of the company and the role.


4)    Dress appropriately


The sales person is always dressed in a way that shows credibility and professionalism. The job seeker should aim to do the same.


There are countless articles on how to dress for interviews. In a nutshell, the candidate should be dressed according to the dress code of the company and the role he is applying for. A safe rule of thumb is to dress just one notch above the company dress code. In the event the candidate finds himself or herself overdressed, it is fairly simple to remove the jacket, roll up the sleeves or remove the tie. Conversely, it is near impossible to dress up a casual outfit.


5)    Listen, take notes


In the same survey mentioned above, the most common mistake job applicants make is talking too much.


Super sales people will tell you that they spend 80% if their time listening and 20% of their time talking.


In an interview situation, the employer is interested in the applicant’s ability to solve the company’s problems, not his entire life history. Candidates should answer questions succinctly and concisely, supported with evidence or examples.


Interviewers also appreciate candidates who listen and show interest by taking notes – to show care and consideration for details, facts, numbers, spelling and any pertinent information shared by the interviewer.  


6)    Show or prove something


The success of the sale hinges on the sales person’s ability to prove that his product or service is able to solve the client’s problem or meet the client’s needs. Insurance agents have sheets and sheets of data, slimming centers feature previous successful clients, beauty products have samples given out free, and IT companies do demos.


The meeting is a chance for the job seeker to prove he has the skill or the experience. He should prepare his stories and anecdotes before the interview, and review his resume quickly to freshen his memory. The job seeker may also bring something to show for it – an article, an award, a letter – but not to show them unless requested or if highly appropriate.


In today’s market, more and more employers are asking candidates to prove their abilities by various assessments and even case study presentations. If the opportunity to do such assessments presents itself, job seekers should not shy away.


7)    Ask for the job


All good sales people know how to ask for the sale.


At the early stages of interview, the job seeker should ask for next steps, ask about the process and even ask the opinion of the interviewer on the job fit at the end of the interview.


At the final stages, most candidates are too shy to ask for the job, waiting instead to hear from the company. Asking for the job is nothing to be ashamed of – there’s nothing to lose! The candidate that asks for the job shows his motivation and interest explicitly and may help the employer make up his mind. 


8)    Send a Thank You note


At the end of any meeting, super sales people will follow up with their client and send thank you notes. It’s important for the job seeker to follow suit and show professionalism, integrity, and respect by sending a thank you note to the interviewer who took the time to meet with him.

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