You can find lots of advice in books and online for how to answer job interview questions, and some of it says to practice your interview answers with a friend, or video yourself so you can play it back to see any weak spots. It's good advice. You need both practice and feedback to improve your game. The flaws here are (1) a friend might just tell you what you want to hear, and (2) if you're critiquing a video of yourself, the problem becomes "you don't know what you don't know".
Here's a thought: If you really want to improve your skills in something, you take personalized, individualized lessons from an expert...in other words, get a coach.
Think about it. Even pro athletes, with amazing natural abilities and countless hours of practice, have coaches and trainers to give them that one last boost over the top to excellence.
Role-playing interviews with an objective, experienced industry expert can give you so much of a boost in your interview skills that you not only do well in the interview, you crush it....just blow the hiring manager out of the water with your confidence, competence and style. An interview coach can not only help you shape your answers to interview questions, she can help you spin difficult situations into positives (or at least neutrals), and can help you pinpoint and develop those intangible qualities that are ultimately job-winners.
Find someone who is an expert in your field that you are comfortable working with. Hiring an interview coach is a small investment in yourself that will pay off big for you when you land the job of your dreams.
What's the most important sales job interview (and resume) tip?
Quantify Your Experience!
A sales rep's job is to make the sale. So if you're looking for a new sales job, your mission is to demonstrate that you can ring that cash register, and do it well.
Quantify your resume.
In order to get the interview, your resume should be a marketing document for you....your "brochure" that draws them into calling you for an interview. If you are in sales, the numbers you pull down (in terms of customers, dollar amounts of sales, sales rankings, and more) matter a lot. A sales resume is all about the numbers. That's what hiring managers are looking for:
What kind of numbers can you pull down?
What's your sales ranking? Did it increase?
What does your customer/units sold/profit growth look like?
What was your budget?
What kind of revenue have you generated? (Either in actual dollar amounts, or percentage increases.)
Job references matter. A great reference can convince a hiring manager on the fence to go ahead and hire you--and a bad one can knock you out of the running fast.
Which references are best?
Past bosses are always at the top of the list of the best references. If your last job situation wasn't great, you might have to get a little more creative to get a good reference. Try asking a high-level client, a colleague, or a manager you didn't directly work for but who knows your work.
Choose and coach a great reference
It's important to choose someone you know thinks a lot of you, who can express themselves well, and who knows about the job you're going for so that they can speak to your strengths. You need to coach your references. Tell them about the job you're going for and jog their memory about things you did that are particularly relevant. You need to give your references a call anyway to let them know they're about to be called for duty.
When you have a lineup of great references, maintain them and keep them ready for action. Two to three times a year, send regular emails about your career activities. It's a nice touch to pass on items or bits of news that may be helpful to them. When you maintain this regular contact, it's never awkward when you call and say, "Hey, I'm interviewing for this job, and they'll probably be calling you."
Thank your references
Always send a thank you note to your references for their service to you and let them know how it all turned out.
I love this job search success story because not only does it prove that it's possible to turn around a bad interview and save your job offer, it's also possible to get hired at any time of the year--even in the holiday season.
Dear Ms. McKee,
My name is Ziyad S. and I graduated from [name withheld] University in 201x with a degree in Chemical Engineering. I listened to your webinar and youtube videos around 2 months ago.
The Fall of 201x was a hectic time for me. I was applying to jobs, networking with people and had many interviews yet many turn downs. On the 14th of December, I had a phone interview with [name withheld]. I knew I had messed it up because I hadn't answered the hiring manager's questions about a program correctly and he told me he expected a better answer from me.
Having known that I messed up the brief, 10-minute interview, I decided to learn from your tutorial. I watched about the 30/60/90 day plan and put it to immediate action. In around an hour after the interview, I prepared the brief plan and sent it along with my thank you note to the hiring manager. Today, I opened my email in the afternoon finding an offer from the company! And may I say, what an amazing start to the New Year it was for me.
Therefore, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you ever so much! I really think you have made a difference in my career search and in others as well. I wish you all the best!
I want to congratulate Ziyad on his persistence and aggressiveness in his job search. It would be difficult for most people to take that extra step of creating a 30-60-90-day plan after a bad phone interview, but he did it and it made him stand out, impressed the hiring manager, and paid off in a job offer.
Ziyad mentions our webinars and YouTube videos, so I wanted to give you the links to each:
If English is your second language, finding a job can be difficult. It's important to sound confident when you are speaking with potential employers but not only can this be tough on the best of days, the language barrier can add an extra obstacle. Here is an excellent tool to help you practice job interview answers so that you can speak to employers confidently and get the job offer:
This series consists of 50 different videos where I ask a job interview question that you can answer on your own, and then you can play my answer. Compare both, and easily see how to improve your answers immediately. These are the answers that will get you hired.
I've been hearing many comments from folks who aren't as comfortable with English telling me that they love this tool. I encourage you to give it a try and see for yourself.
Sales job interviews are difficult, and your competition is fierce. That means that you're going to have to work a little harder to set yourself apart from the competition and win the job. Smart hiring managers know that all sales reps can talk a good game, so they are looking for the one who can also back it up.
Here are 6 tips that absolutely will help you impress the hiring manager and boost your chances of landing the job:
1. Research the company. A job-winning sales candidate will know:
what the company does
what its current issues are
what its goals are
where its products fit in the marketplace
who the competition is
Take in this information and use it to figure out how you can help them reach their goals....and then frame your answers to interview questions accordingly.
One of the worst things that can happen to you in a job interview is to get a tough interview question that makes you freeze, like a deer in the headlights. You are surprised, you don't know which way to go, and so you just sit there waiting for disaster.
I received this great comment from a hiring manager on interviewing, and thought her insights would help you in your next interview, when you answer interview questions.
My observations as a hiring manager are in line with what you are saying in this video. I've interviewed candidates for a position in software development team and asked them a standard question: "Where do you see yourself in three years?" Many responded enthusiastically, "I want to be a manager", not realizing that this be viewed as a threat to the continuous employment of a manager :) A safer answer is "I want to be a senior programmer."
The biggest assumption people make is that if they tell you what they did, you will understand that they will and can do the job. I think this approach is far from perfect, and they will be better understood if they spell this out explicitly. For example, "I can support Oracle database and resolve performance issues because I have such and such experience to rely upon." What I heard often was "I am passionate about Oracle and done a lot of Oracle programming" - how [your passion helps] me was not spelled out for me.
The big ideas here are to remember who you're speaking with and adjust your answers accordingly, and give evidence-based answers (especially quantified ones that include numbers, dollars, and percentages) instead of only talking about your passion. Passion and enthusiasm are good, but evidence is better.
Preparing an action plan for your job interview is the best job interview prep in the world. It will help you speak more confidently about your ability to do the job, and demonstrate that you are someone who not only can do the job, but will do it and be very successful at it.
How do you do an action plan for your job interview?
The best way to come up with an action plan is just like with any other goal: break it into smaller goals and figure out the steps to reach those.
An action plan can refer to any length of time you'd like--from 30 days to a year. Most people use an action plan for the first 90 days, or a 30-60-90-Day Plan.
When you break up your plan into 30-day increments, it becomes easier to figure out what you should be doing in each section.
The first 30 days normally focuses on learning the ropes: meeting co-workers, support teams, customers, clients; learning software and systems; and getting settled into the job.
The next 30 days (60-day section) usually finds you digging deeper, past the surface stuff. You're learning more details and becoming familiar with the job and the company, and you're getting feedback on how you've done so far.
The better prepared you are, the more confident you will be in any job interview. If you're prepared and confident, you can better accomplish your job interview goals: (1) to demonstrate what you can do and how you can be successful; and (2) that you are the strategic-thinking problem solver they need on their team. The very best way to prepare for top performance in any job interview and accomplish your goals (and get the offer) is to create a 60-Day Interview Plan.
What is a 60 Day Interview Plan and how do you write one?
A 60 Day Interview Plan is simply a plan, or strategy, for how you will attack your new job in the first 2 months. (Some people do a 30-Day Business Plan, others do a 90-Day Plan, or a 30-60-90-Day Plan.) If you're creating a 60-Day Plan, it's most common to break that up into two 30-day sections.
Here is a fantastic job search success story from Eleanor, who got a job she is very excited about in a whole new industry as an ‘Over 50’ white-haired job seeker. Read her story to see how she did it.
Last Thursday I wasn’t on the [TAC] call because I was at my second interview—a lunch with my prospective team. My first interview had been with the company president and operations head. Time constraints prevented me from presenting my 30 60 90 Day Action Plan, so in my thank you email, I mentioned wishing we had had more time because I would have loved their feedback on the Plan I wasn’t able to present. The operations head instead asked me to present it at my second interview with the entire team….Got some really good feedback from the team during my presentation, fleshing some of it out. I was taking notes.
There was a team meeting Thursday afternoon. The President saw the plan at that point, and was apparently even happier that he had already given me a thumbs up. By the end of day I had the job offer. I start tomorrow.
As you may remember, I am well over 50 and have white hair (since I was 30!!)…I have been in nonprofit fundraising for quite a while. I am no longer. Hallelujah! …
My new position (75% FT—30 hours a week in my new world) is as Client Services Manager for a startup firm that has a great client feedback tool that allows businesses to send a short (6-8 questions) survey to clients at certain touchpoints in a project…After enough surveys have been sent and completed, there are reports that indicate long-term trends that can help companies make some really good decisions in terms of best practices, assigning personnel to projects, etc. The company has grown to a point where they really need someone to make sure clients are well-cared for, and implementation of the client feedback process for them is managed well. That would be me.
They liked the 30 60 90 Day Plan so much, it looks as though I will be doing 30 60 90 Day Implementation Plans and having a PP presentation for each client so we all stay on track!
I have learned so much from both of you as a member of TAC. Because this is a huge industry shift for me, I was grilled both by the president and my team, and was able to effectively answer in a way that showed them I am a good fit for the job. I usually do interview well, but some of the things I’ve heard over these many months gave me both language and perspective I didn’t have before.
The parent company has been recognized as one of the best small businesses to work for in the country! The two companies share the same president. The President actually told me in my first interview that most architects don’t hit the right stride in their company until they are 60, which told me upfront that they value maturity and experience. You kept saying, Peggy, to look at the small companies [as an older job seeker]. I can say “Amen” to that.
And because of your teaching us how to sell ourselves, I actually have language to speak with and understand our Sales person. He and I will be working very closely together, so I have one less thing to learn. Helpful since I need to learn an entire industry!
Thank you so-o-o much for everything that you offer. And for the great interaction between the two of you, and for your honesty in all your presentations and how you answer questions. I have really enjoyed what has been a difficult time in some ways.
Check out Career Confidential's ebooks on Amazon's Kindle store to help you answer interview questions, prepare for your interviews, work with recruiters, find a job fast, ace your phone interview, and jumpstart your job search. Click on the links below to see book descriptions and reviews. Download them today!
Can you explain why you're the person they need to hire? Employers ask you a hundred different interview questions... but what they really want to know is,
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What's the most powerful place you can be in as a job seeker? The most powerful place you can be as a job seeker is having someone the company knows and trusts marketing you for the job--that someone is a recruiter. If you are in a job search now, or want to get better and better opportunities throughout your career, you need to understand how to leverage the considerable power of recruiters.
This book is for YOU if you want to slam-dunk every phone interview and get invited to the face-to-face. You will discover my best phone interview tips from 14 years of interviewing thousands of candidates (as a hiring manager and recruiter). This is your key to phone interview success!
If you feel like your job search is stalled because you can’t get enough interviews, then this is the book for you! It will jumpstart your job search and put you in the interview seat, so you can get a job fast.
Finding a Job Fast, Using a 30/60/90-Day Plan brings you a dynamic new way to take control of your job search and prove to hiring managers that you have what it takes to join the team. Whether you have years of experience in your field or none at all, you can get the job offer you have been waiting for.
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