Interviewing for a job is in many ways comparable to a sales person making a sale. If you were a sales person and were about to sell a product to a customer you would do some homework or research so that you could convince your customers that your product was the best product on the market to fill their needs.
If you think of this scenario and apply it to the job interview process you will find that it is a powerful tool to use for your interview preparation. What do you have to offer (as a product), to the customer (the employer)? What do you have that will fill their needs (the requirements of the job)? What can you bring that is unique or added value to the position/company? (that sets you apart from the pack)?
Let’s begin with “what you have to offer.” Think of ways to present your key qualities throughout the interview. An example of this technique is when interviewing for a position that requires “strong organizational skills.” You will want to let the interviewer know you are not only organized, but that your organizational skills have made a significant difference in your performance. If you can give an example of a particular event that you organized and how your organizational skills made a difference in a past job you will make an even stronger sell. Anyone can say that they have “strong organizational skills,” but not everyone can give specific examples of a time when they had a success using those skills. Don’t tell them – sell them - with proof of a past experience or success.
Next, begin to think about what the employer’s needs are and how your product can fill those needs. You can accomplish this by studying the job description or posting. Read through the posting or job description once for content. Then, read it a second time for specific words that are emphasized. There will be specific words used according to the job or industry that you are applying for. Make a list of these words to use as “key factors” needed. Now, return to the job posting and read it once more. This time read “between the lines.” What would it take to do this job? If for instance, there is a statement such as, “Position will require frequent collaboration and interaction on all levels of staff and management,” you can gather that “strong interpersonal” and “communication” skills will be needed to do this job. By making a list of “key requirements” you can match them against what you have to offer.
The last factor to prepare for your sale is to let the employer know that you have the ability to “fit in.” and be a “team player.” The interviewer will not only be looking to see if you can do the job, but they will also be checking to see if you will be a good addition to the team. Don’t dismiss your personal traits in your sales “pitch” preparation. Identify skills that make you unique such as “interpersonal skills,” “attitude,” and “willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.” These skills could make the difference between yourself and an equally qualified candidate getting the job offer.
When you take the time to prepare for the sale of the product – YOU – you will have a better chance of convincing the customer or buyer that you are just what they are looking for. By the time you leave the interview the interviewer should have a strong sense of what you have to offer and why they should hire you – why you are the best person for the job to fill their needs.
Carole Martin is a celebrated author, trainer, and an interview coach. Her books, "Interview Fitness Training Workbook" and "Boost Your Interview IQ" (McGraw Hill) have sold thousands of copies world-wide. Receive Carole's FREE 9-week job interview e-course by visiting her web site at: www.interviewcoach.com