by Chris Carlson, President of Sales Talent Inc.

In today’s fast paced job market, employers are searching for standout employees who can successfully drive company initiatives and who can best represent the company to clients/prospects. Companies have many interviewing strategies to find the right candidate, but a lot of what they perceive can be controlled by you during the interview. With on average an hour, you need to explain and show your interviewer why you are the best person for this position, which is why it is important to separate yourself from the pack and make a lasting impact on your interviewee.

Separating yourself from the pack can be as simple as doing and saying the right things during the interview. In a recent excerpt from Job Hunting for Dummies by Max Messmer, he describes a few ways to naturally separate yourself from the rest of your peers. It is a great book, but for those of you who do not have alot of time, below is quick synopsis with additional information for sales people.

Take Your Time When You Enter
Make a conscious effort when you first walk into the interviewer’s office not to rush things. Pause at the door to make sure the interviewer is ready for you before you walk in. Take a few seconds to look around and acclimate yourself when you enter the office. After you and the interviewer greet one another and shake hands, take your time when settling yourself into the chair. By taking things a little slower, you appear more poised and professional.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself
Don’t be afraid to let the “real you” shine through in interviews. If there’s an offbeat side to your personality (and if that side of you doesn’t suggest that you’re an out-and-out “kook”), don’t suppress it entirely. Most interviewers like to come away from an interview with at least a general sense of who you really are. Ironically, you often do yourself more harm than good when you go out of your way to play the part of the “ideal candidate.”

Go Easy On the “Charm”
As important as it is to establish rapport with the person interviewing you, don’t over do a good thing. Your main task in a job interview is to draw a connection between what you have to offer in the way of skills and attributes and what the job requires. If you focus on that issue in an honest, enthusiastic way, the rapport will usually develop on its own.

Don’t Over-Answer
Keep your answers to interview questions as focused and brief as possible, and don’t feel obliged to fill any silence that follows your answer with additional information. Let silence work in your favor, giving the interviewer time to absorb what you’ve said. Pay attention to visual cues–nodding of the head, for example.

Make Your Case in Writing
Even though you can assume that your interviewer has seen your resume, there’s nothing stopping you after you’ve done some research on the job and the company from preparing a short list that spells out the specific skills and attributes you bring to this particular opportunity. For example a “Brag Book” of accomplishments that are pertinent or a 30-60-90 that describes your plan of action. This information will separate you from others and will allow the conversation to be more about you.

Make an Offer
If things go well in an interview and you’re sure that you want the job, make the interviewer an offer. For example, offer to go on a field ride, put together a 30-60-90, spend a day in the field, etc. If you take the initiative and throw the ball, they will either accept or deny; either way you will separate yourself from others.

Invite Yourself Back (CLOSE!)
After the interview is finished, close the hiring manager for a next step. For example, after the interview concludes, ask your interviewer “Do you have any hesitations about me moving forward to the next step?” They will either say yes, and give you an opportunity to overcome any objections or they will say no, and you can proceed to schedule the next step.

Leave Behind a Relevant Keepsake
Prepare ahead of time something you can leave behind (apart from your resume) that can enhance your chances of being hired. This would be your “Brag Book”, list of skills and attributes that you bring to the job, a 30-60-90, etc. This will guarantee that the hiring manager will think of you when you leave and will give you a reason to follow-up.

Sales Talent Inc. was founded in 1999 amidst the frenzy and excess of the dot com and technology boom with a few simple strategies and philosophies: align ourselves with growing, top-tier companies and develop long-term relationships with them, and focus on placing mid to senior sales professionals and sales management.

Perfect score from a panel of 3 businessman judges

SALES SITUATIONAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Situation interview questions are commonly used in medical and pharmaceutical sales interviews but are increasingly common with top-tier companies in other industries.  Below is common questions and the way to approach them.

  • What separates you from the rest of your sales team?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to persuade a prospect to buy from you over your competition.
  • Give me an example of a goal you set for yourself in the past and the steps you took to achieve it.
  • Give me an example of a creative way you closed a sale.
  • What types of things do you do to increase your overall effectiveness on the job?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked really hard for something and you did not achieve your goal.
  • What obstacles get in your way at work and what do you do to overcome them?
  • Can you give me a specific time you had to deal with a disgruntled customer?
  • Give me an example of a time you went above and beyond the call of duty?
  • Describe a typical day at work.
  • Describe a typical sales call.
  • Why did you leave your previous position?
  • Describe your ideal position.
  • What would you bring to my company?

In addition to preparing for situational interview questions, be prepared to role-play a sales call! Make sure you cover all the steps of the sales cycle.

Build rapport

Probe for Needs

Sell to the needs of the prospect

Trial Close

Overcome objections

Close

The best way to answer situational interview questions is to give specific examples and follow the SAR model.  SAR stands for Situation, Action and Result.  For example, with the question “What separates you from the rest of your sales team?” give a specific example of something that you do.