If you aren’t already working in your dream job, it’s because you haven’t taken ownership of the sales process (yet). In part I of this story, I called you a ‘big-ticket item’ and urged you to drive the sales process yourself. Now, by taking charge and aggressively pursuing what you want, you’ve made it to the interview.
It’s time to start delivering on your promises. You’ll begin with lots of preparation. There’s an outline to help you prepare for your interview here. Pay particular attention to items 7 through 15 because that’s where your sales skills will really make a difference.
You can have all the skills required for the position and more, but if your interviewers don’t like you, they’re not going to extend an offer. That’s why it’s so important to avoid offending with your physical hygiene or clothing choices, to smile, treat everyone you meet well, remember names and make a personal connection.
Because you want your interviewer to like you, it’s also important to pay attention to body language. Know what your body is saying and physically tell your interviewer that you are relaxed, open, and confident. We like relaxed, confident people because those feelings are contagious and make us feel safe.
When the interview is winding down, ask for the job. Tell me you want to get into the game. This is the one thing you absolutely must do to drive the sale – attempt ‘to close’ just as you did in the conversation which landed you the interview. You do this by asking your interviewer for feedback during the interview – “How do you see me fitting in at your company?” or “Do you think I’ve got what you’re looking for to do this job?” or “On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), how do you think I’d do in this position?” The rating question sets up a good follow-up: “What could I do to score higher?”
If the answer is ‘no’, get clarification so you can address whatever the issues may be. When you can satisfy these concerns, it’s time for the ‘trial close,’ the big ‘next step’ question which you can phrase something like this:
“I’m very interested in this job and in working with your team – what’s the next step in the hiring process? Are there any questions I’ve left unanswered?”
Or, go for the kill like this:
“If you’re interested in filling this position and can see where I’d fit in well, when would be the best time for me to start?”
Asking directly for the job like this may be uncomfortable the first time you do it, so keep in mind that it shows strength and maturity on your part – it shows you are a player, not a benchwarmer. Keep in mind too, that employers will often not extend an offer just because the candidate didn’t show sufficient interest in the position at the end of the interview. Asking for feedback and for the job directly will either get you the offer or the information you need to move ahead in your job search with another opportunity.
In response to your trial close, your interviewer may tell you that he still needs to see other candidates. In this case, ask when the other interviews will be taking place and commit to calling afterward. Say ‘thanks’ and tell your interviewer you look forward to speaking again on the agreed date.
Congratulations, you’ve made yourself memorable! You’re done and have just separated yourself from at least 80% of the other candidates.
Relax physically and mentally with these tricks. When you’re anxious, you’re not at the top of your game and it shows. Your likability is low. So managing your anxiety level is critical. Think about it like this — if I lay a foot-wide board in the street and ask you to walk across it, you’d have no problem doing that (assuming there are no cars coming).
Now imagine I’ve moved the same board up in the air, three stories high, suspending it between two buildings. Will you walk across it for me now? All I’ve done is move the location of the board and suddenly your mind is paralyzed with the fear of falling. When you think you’ll fall, you probably will. But, it works the other way, too. You’ll cruise right over if you believe you will.
Here is how to cruise right through your job search, knowing you can and will succeed:
First, think about the two men who are walking on the plains in Africa, when all of a sudden, a hungry lion comes running at them. Shocked and horrified, the first man takes off his backpack, takes out a pair of sneakers and starts putting them on. The second man yells out, “What are you doing? Why are you putting on your sneakers? You’ll never outrun that lion!” To which the first man replies, “I don’t need to outrun the lion; I just need to outrun you.”
Job search works the same way. You don’t need to be perfect to build a great career. Simply being better than most will put you miles ahead of everyone else in the long run. So with that in mind, here are a few proven techniques that will give you an edge over your competition.
Remember that some amount of anxiety is natural and always accompanies the unknown. A little bit of anxiety can boost your performance by making sure you arrive on time and look alive. On other occasions, your anxiety level may feel too high and have an important message for you – it might be that you are unprepared. You may rightly need to do more research or more practice before your mind will allow you to relax.
There are no tricks that will help you relax when you are simply unprepared – you deserve the bench until you’re really ready for the game. The only good solution is better preparation. On the other hand, if you are anxious because you’re about to try something for the first time, making a cold call for example, at some point you just need to pull the trigger and make the call knowing that you’ll get better and more confident each time. Don’t give up easily!
Now, a few tricks to help you with your interview. Treat your interview as a meeting where you’ll discuss a common interest – a real two-way street. Remember that you have questions to ask and information to gather about the position and the company, as well. If you don’t like what you find out, if this position or this company is not a good fit for you, you won’t want a job offer.
Consider the real possibility that this job, boss or company will suck! Bottom line is you don’t automatically want this job. Don’t let your interviewer find you arrogant or aloof, though. Go to the interview with the intention of landing a job offer, just keep in mind that this is really a meeting and that you have important questions to ask which may determine whether you would accept an offer.
Next, know you will land the job offer and visualize yourself working in the position. Imagine you’ve already accepted an offer and have been working productively for six months. If you’ve done your homework for this interview, you’ll already have a good idea of what you’ll be doing. Picture it. Carry this visualization with you into the interview and talk and act like you are an employee meeting with the boss. Say ‘we’ when talking about future activity, and refer to ‘our’ company. Show your (future) boss how you’ll do the job.
Finally, if you have a serious case of monkey mind, there is a great breathing exercise you can adapt from a yoga meditation called Shabad Kriya. Try using this breathing technique before going to bed the night before your interview, in the car on the way there or while you are waiting for the interview to start. I use this technique whenever I feel over-accelerated and it calms me quickly.
Evaluate the offer. I’ve just extended an offer to you and now the ball is in your court – how should you respond? Well first, let’s talk about what a good salesperson knows about money. As a good salesperson, you’ll know:
You need to do a lot of homework before deciding if the price is right. You’ll check PayScale and other online salary sites to compare the offer against averages that consider geography, experience level, company size, etc. You’ll consider the company’s recent financial performance and your own needs. If it’s a good offer, you’ll accept happily, but if it looks low, you’ll negotiate like this: “Based on what others in this position are getting at similar companies, the eight years of experience I’ll bring you and my commitment level, your offer feels a little conservative. Do you have some flexibility?”
Never reveal your salary history. Even when asked directly, you will never tell how much you were paid at your last job. It’s an irrelevant number just used to lower the offer when possible. You’ll say something like, “If we decide I’m right for the job, I’m sure we can agree on salary” or “I’m really interested in determining if I’m the right person for the job, and if I am, I’m sure we’ll agree on compensation, too.”
The first offer is rarely the final offer. Extending an offer is the culmination of a long and tedious process that involves countless hours of reviewing resumes and corresponding with candidates. So, you know the last thing I want to do is go back to the drawing board. You know that when you negotiate respectfully, you’re demonstrating the same business skills you’ll be using on the job. You know that most employers expect you to negotiate a little.
Money is not everything. You know that if I don’t have any flexibility with the salary I’ve offered, I might have some flexibility with vacation or I might be able to pay a signing bonus. You know I might also commit to an earlier evaluation (typically one year) and salary review. You also know that even if there is no flexibility at all, the position could still be the right one for you at this point in your life and career.
The time to negotiate is now. You know you still have the power and control of the conversation. If you accept now and negotiate again later, before a year is up, I’m very likely to find your behavior unprofessional.
You are accumulating karma. Applying sales techniques to your job search makes it easier in so many ways. It turns it into a process where each step is just a small chunk with the goal of getting to the next one. Your goal is never to ‘get a job’ and it is always to take the next step in the process. This reduces the pressure on you enormously.
A candidate who drives the job search process sets himself apart from most other job seekers by demonstrating valuable skills and attitudes that employers want. And, most importantly, a candidate who drives the job search process plays right into the hopes and desires of every recruiter. We want you to be “the one.” We all want to put our current search to bed and get back to work. You driving the process for us helps everyone get there faster with less effort on my part. You can’t lose.
Take it one step at a time. Here’s the full process. Don’t rush through it as the outcome of each step depends on succeeding in the prior one. Just as you can’t rush a pregnancy, you can’t rush a job search when you want it to come out well.
Your reward for negotiating each step of the process successfully is a new job – one you actually chose. You’re finally off the bench, so go play! Do your job well (work smart) and you may never be sidelined again.
For comprehensive advice on the entire job search process, read our complete guide to landing a job at a great company or visit our career advice hub.