Don't Stop Short

Since I began interview preparation coaching I’ve noticed a common trend in the responses that my clients often give, that is, they stop short in their responses. By this I mean that when my clients give a response to an interview question, they don’t often enough relate their experience, skills, and abilities back to the company they are interviewing with. For example:

Question: Tell me about yourself

Response: Since graduating college a decade ago I have had a very successful career in sales, being promoted and given progressively greater responsibilities. When I’m not working I love playing guitar, petting turtles, and reading books. I am very excited about this opportunity.

Analysis: While the above statement is of course made up, it is not far from the mark. What’s left out? Examples of key skills that can be attributed to a successful career in sales, a CAR (Challenge, Action, Result) example, and how this is important to the company you are interviewing for.

Note: It is important to remember that the organization at hand has a pain point. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be hiring anyone. So take the time to think about that before you head into your interview so you can tailor your responses to address their pain point. For example:

Question: Tell me about yourself

Response: Over the course of my career I have excelled in sales both as an individual contributor and as a sales team leader which has been demonstrated by my ability to identify and execute on effective sales strategies, utilizing data and market research to identify new business opportunities, and by my ability to transform individuals and sales teams to become top performers. An example of this would be when I was recruited for the Widget Company, who was experiencing a slump in their sales. I redirected their strategy after extensive market analysis, developed the way the sales team approached the sales process, and as a result reversed the trend and produced enough revenue to generate profits for the first time in several years. I am confident I can bring my extensive knowledge and experience to make a fast, positive impact for your company. I would be happy to share more examples with you if you’d like.

Analysis: Clearly this type of response is superior. We have immediately set the tone for being a sales leader and have identified 3 ways in which this can be supported. We then give the interviewer a quick CAR example and then relate this all back to the company at hand. Finally, we make the offer to provide more examples, which you should (and better) have ready!

By shifting the focus of your responses back to the company you are indicating to them that you are not in it as much for yourself (i.e. just there for earning potential), as you are making a positive contribution to the organization in which you are interested.

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