The Job Interview As Sales Call

Listening During an InterviewBack in my corporate days I was never a very good interviewer of job candidates. My problem: I talked too much and tried to sell the job rather than ascertain the candidate’s suitability for it. As it turns out, that’s just the kind of interviewer you want to encounter when you’re job hunting.

BusinessWeek’s Liz Ryan says the trick is to listen as much as you can, rather than talk as much as you want. "It’s typically less important what we convey about our own business experiences and skills than what we can pick up on, and respond to, in the interviewer’s description of the employer’s business need," she writes. Her advice: Think of an interview as a sales call. She writes:

In a good sales call, the salesperson steers clear of the ‘Show up and throw up’ approach, by saving his spiel until he understands what the buyer is looking for. The last thing the buyer wants to hear is a monologue describing the product’s many benefits. The buyer has bigger fish to fry – specifically, his or her own business problem. If no problem existed, the salesperson would never have gotten in the door for the meeting. A salesperson who can first listen, and then respond with a solution based on the buyer’s pain, is way ahead of the pack.

Read the entire article to see how this kind of interaction might play out during an interview. It may sound a little hokey at first, but if you think about it, you’ll start to see this kind of technique may be more effective than simply rattling off your job history and certifications.

– Don Willmott

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