The most common statement to get any interview started begins with 4 magical words.  “Tell me about yourself.”  Within 10 seconds, studies show most interviewers have already decided how they feel about you.  Then, they spend the whole interview either confirming the belief that you’re a good fit for the job or verifying the belief that you’re a bad fit.  Instead of regurgitating your resume back to them during this critical time, come swinging with brags, borrows and steals that will help you land the job.

Brag

Be humble of course, but a little bragging can go along way.  Before your first interview with a new company, you need to be as prepared for the interview as you would be for a perspective sales call.  Once you’ve done your research on the company, prepare a few key sales highlights to brag about that are in line with the company’s needs.  What does the company want to hear?  Your measurable successes in the form of rankings, revenues and reviews.

  • Rankings: Have any data or reports ready on where you rank amongst your peers.
  • Revenue: Prove you drive revenue with your sales numbers in quarterly form.
  • Reviews: This can be props from managers showing you’re a team player or rave reviews about how you supported a client through a long sales cycle.
  • Relationships: Show them you’re not a get rich fast candidate, but in it for the entire sales cycle.  Sales is all about networking.  Describe the approach you have with building a network of leads that transformed into deals.
  • Resourcefulness: You didn’t bang on the front door.  Instead you read a LinkedIn blog the CEO posted, commented with a thoughtful remark, and followed up with a strategic email that landed you a new client.  Show that you’re creative while converting.

Borrow

Nope, not asking you to lie.  Borrow key points from the job responsibilities section and shape your answers to show you can sell in any industry.  Take the first couple of words.  Most sales job descriptions ask you to identify and create new leads.  Instead of waiting for the interviewer to ask this question, when describing your previous sales history, use the same terminology they used to frame your sentences.  The interviewer will be impressed you were able to provide a lot of the basic screening information, allowing them to spend less time asking you mundane questions and more time for you to build a relationship.  Phrases like these are perfect to describe your current position:

  • I’m a self-starter who takes initiative and has a sense of urgency that I proved by…
  • I have experience selling cutting edge, disruptive technology to senior executives at the enterprise level demonstrated with…
  • I’m forward-thinking and into data-driven analytics. Based on this, I make recommendations that align with client goals like…

Bonus points if the interviewer wrote the job description because who doesn’t like hearing their words parroted back to them in an intelligible way?

Steal

Steal the job away from other candidates by standing out from your competition.  A few creative ways to do this:

  • Create a business plan for the job instead of a repetitive cover letter.
  • Invest in a basic website that visually shows some of your sales accomplishments. Include the link in your resume.
  • Like sales, you want to speak to the decision maker. Try to find someone within the company who can put you on the interview fast track.
  • You don’t wait for the recruiter to call you back.  You follow up by calling them.

Lastly, if you don’t get another interview or the job, ask why.  If you really like the company, invested time in going through the interview process, and they would consider you in the future, like any possible sales lead, it may not be a hard no; it may be a not right now.  Set a follow up call in the future to keep them on your radar.

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