Prior to my work as a Job Search Coach/Career Mentor, I ran a recruiting business that offered direct hire and contract staffing solutions to technology companies. On sales calls it was always critical to ask plenty of questions that would allow me to better understand my client’s pain points. This is the basis of solution selling – a consultative approach to sales where you uncover a client’s issues before you begin your pitch.
When we launch with our own agenda before asking the right questions, our words often fall on deaf ears. The client may not need what we’re selling, or may not be interested in purchasing our product or service the way we’ve got it packaged.
Interviewing should be treated the same way. Don’t launch into a sales pitch about your value until you understand what your potential employer needs. How can you sell them on hiring you before you know what they’re looking to buy?
Solution Selling Tip for the Job Interview #1: Ask questions. Lots of them.
The more you can gather about the company, such as where they’re at in their lifecycle (start-up, mid-stage, hyper-growth…) or where they sit in the marketplace (dominating their competitors or new to their game), the more you’ll both learn, as well as intuit, the issues that they’re likely facing. From there, you can cull stories about your own experience and background that will show them how you are uniquely positioned to assist in solving their business problems and contribute to their fiscal growth.
Solution Selling Tip for the Job Interview #2: Spend more time practicing how to ask questions than how to answer them.
In my interview prep work with clients, I always spend more time coaching people on how to ask questions during an interview than on how to answer them. It’s super critical to arrive curious and displaying a strong sense of engagement. Here’s a list of questions from a blog I wrote last fall for Technical Integrity (a terrific Boulder area staffing firm) that will provide guidance on what questions to ask in an interview. Challenge yourself to think of more along these same lines.
Solution Selling Tip for the Job Interview #3: Go in prepared.
As you read the job description, study the company and talk to friends/colleagues who are connected to the organization. Generate a list of questions with everything that you’re curious about from culture, to product lifecycle, to the company’s fiscal health. Take all the chatter and curiosity running through your mind and jot it all down.
Solution Selling Tip for the Job Interview #4: Organize your questions by audience.
Even if you’re only scheduled to meet with the hiring manager, you may very well get introduced to a VP or even the CEO. Be prepared with a list of questions for any potential audience you may encounter.
Solution Selling Tip for the Job Interview #5: Be curious!
Your curiosity about the company will not only provide you with useful data to make a decision if offered a job, but it will also show them how you think and that you’re fully engaged in the conversation.
Solution Selling Tip for the Job Interview #6: Thank You notes matter.
Post interview, don’t forget about the critical sales follow-up. In this case, it’s your thank you note. Address individual emails to each person you met with (get business cards for everyone) and find unique ways to say thank you, continuing your sales pitch through added information on how you can help grow their company.
Follow these steps and you’re sure to stand out from your competitors and move yourself closer to closing the deal.
I invite you to continue the conversation by sharing your interview stories and lessons learned in the Facebook comments here below!
By Tami Palmer
Greyzone’s Founder, Tami Palmer, has worked in the staffing and human resources management industries in the Boulder/Denver area for over 15 years. Tami has served on the boards for Workforce Boulder County, Boulder Area Human Resource Association, Colorado Talent Recruiter’s Network, and has also donated countless hours of volunteer time to providing job search advice to college students, displaced workers and immigrant populations. Tami is valued for her intuition, knowledge and creative thinking, and has written articles on the job search process for Expert Beacon and blogs on the topic regularly.