This is a guest post from Ron Haynes, editor of The Wisdom Journal and author of a new eBook, The Inner View of Your Interview, exposing the motivations behind today’s top 100 job interview questions. Ron has been interviewing people for various positions for over two decades and uses his new eBook to give job seekers an insider’s peek into the mind of an interviewer.
The Inner View of Your Interview has a central theme: all job seekers should tailor their resume, cover letter, and job preparation to each individual company rather than take a scattered approach. When a job seeker learns to focus on a target company’s greatest needs and tailors all responses to job interview questions on meeting those needs, he or she quickly becomes a top candidate in the interviewer’s mind. And for the job seeker, there’s few places any better!
Think how Question 91 [from the book] could be answered if you were interviewing at a startup, at a mid-sized sales oriented company, or at a stodgy old Fortune 100 firm:
Question 91: Sell me this pen (pencil, stapler, adding machine, desk, clock, etc).
The real question is: do you understand the sales process and can you sell? If your interviewer is a business owner or a hard-charging executive in a marketing driven company, he may place a high importance on each job candidate’s ability to sell, regardless of which position you’re interviewing for. These entrepreneurs are overly focused on the sales process, but you can turn even that to your advantage. Be ready if your homework has revealed that your interviewer could be one of these executives.
WORST ANSWER: If you’ve never been in a sales position before, you’ll be blindsided by this challenging question and unpreparedness is a big negative.
BEST ANSWER: The most important secret of any great sales person is this: Ask questions to determine your prospect’s needs, then show him or her how to meet those needs.
You’ve been selling yourself for the entire interview already, so if your interviewer holds up his pen and challenges you to sell it to him, simply demonstrate that you know and understand that most important secret.
Example: ‘A good salesperson knows both his product and his prospect before he sells anything so first I’d get to know everything I could about the pen, its features, benefits, warranties, and options. Then I would ask some questions to determine your needs such as, ‘Just out of curiosity, if you didn’t already have a pen like this, why would you want one? And in addition to that? Any other reason? Anything else?’ and I would wait and listen to your answers. I would go on by asking, ‘And would you want your pen to be reliable?… Write smoothly without leaving smudges? … Would you prefer a cap or a clicking pen?’ Then I would present all the features and benefits of this pen and why it’s exactly what you just told me you were looking for. I would begin to close by asking, ‘Just out of curiosity, what would you consider a reasonable price for a quality pen like this pen you could have right now and would do everything you just told me was important? No matter his number, (unless it’s zero), say, ‘Excellent! You just bought the exact pen you need.’”
Your interviewer may argue with you, denying he wants the pen or may challenge your claims about it’s features or benefits. Whatever you do, don’t fight back. Take the pen away from him and say, Mr. Interviewer, I’m happy to know early that there’s no way you’d ever want this pen. As you know, the most important rule of selling is to uncover and meet the needs of people who really need and want our products. Anything else just wastes everyone’s time and I certainly would not want to waste your time. But since my firm has many different items that could potentially meet your other needs do you see anything on this desk that you would like to own? After he points something out, repeat your question and answer process and make an alternate presentation like I mentioned above. If your interviewer knows anything about sales, he will be very impressed and you may just have a job offer waiting.
If you’d like to read more about how to prepare for your next job interview, check out The Inner View of Your Interview today and read the motivations behind and the best answers to the other 99 questions!