By Donald Truss, Sales Trainer and Executive Recruiter
The Interview... A Mysterious and Imperfect Process!
The interview is really a sales meeting. You, the candidate are selling a product – yourself – to the interviewer – who is your customer. I believe that if an appropriate experiment could be devised, it could be proven that no buying decision has ever been made based solely on the facts. Instead it is a feeling that occurs in the buyer. Interviewers make decisions based on emotions and gut feelings. Influencing these gut feelings will increase your chance of success.
Think about it. Does your family pet communicate with you without speaking? Absolutely. A non-verbal dialogue takes place. This is a subliminal dialogue, and something similar is taking place between you and the interviewer.
The Four Turns
There are 4 distinct subliminal turning points in a successful selling process. Recognizing these turning points will give you the power to see and steer the interviewer’s emotional progression, increasing the probability of a favorable outcome. The four turns are:
#1 – When the interviewer turns the conversation from fun to business
#2 – When you turn the conversation from your history to their problems
#3 – When the interviewer turns the conversation onto your background
#4 – When the interviewer turns to his/her boss for further action
The 1st Turn - The ice breaker
This step is critical. Fail here and you may as well go home. Always start by talking about trivial things. Create lots of smiles, the goal is to make a business friend. Allow the interviewer to decide when to stop and talk business. The 1st turn occurs when the interviewer turns the conversation from pleasure to business by saying something like “OK, let’s talk about your background.” Giving the interviewer this control is critical. It gives him or her the feelings of confidence in you as a cooperative candidate. Failure here is a deal breaker.
The 2nd Turn – Getting Them To Admit They Have Pain
The second turn is caused by you. Most interviewers conduct their business partially distracted and often take the easy way out by saying "so, tell me about yourself. How does your background relate to this job?" It is very easy to destroy the friendship here by being too dominant. While your background is interesting and there is a lot of information to exchange with the interviewer, it is important that you reverse the direction of this line of questioning.
The truth is that they are like a patient, and you are like a doctor. They have a problem and they want relief. You may be the perfect person to cure them, but they won’t accept your medicine until after they feel confident that you fully understand them. (seek first to understand)
This is art – you must answer just enough of their question to demonstrate that you are cooperative, but then turn the conversation onto their problem as quickly as possible. As they describe their problems, prompt them to describe in more detail. Listen, and get them to admit to the severity of their problems. Make visual acknowledgements showing you understand as the interviewer describes their pain. Don’t rush this phase of the meeting. Give them control, encourage them to continue.
DO NOT OFFER ADVICE! Offering advice will provoke feelings of competition in the interviewer.
OK – you are successful so far and they are telling you about their needs. The interviewer will eventually become exhausted. Watch, listen, stay quiet and wait for “The 3rd Turn,” when they think or say “can you help me with this?”
The 3rd Turn – When They Give You Permission To Describe Your Background.
Finally it is your turn! Now you have their permission to describe your background as it relates to their problem. They will be listening – but this is an emotional exchange. Don’t focus on details.
DO NOT SOLVE ANY PROBLEMS AT THIS STAGE! They are subliminally analyzing all of the details surrounding you and your descriptions. Your patience, confidence and enthusiasm are the keys to a positive result.
The Real Meaning Behind Questions
Questions are a way of buying time. If they really like you, they will sometimes avoid asking questions that may bring disappointment. When the interviewer asks very detailed questions, it is often a sign of his or her stress. S/he is looking for reasons to feel confident again. The goal here is to reduce his or her stress by showing confidence and acting in a reassuring way. Your answers should be predictable.
Describing Your Background - Your Pitch
Your “Pitch” is your offer of relief from their pain. It should be rehearsed, succinct, focused and complete. The more research you have done before the interview, the better your pitch will be.
Deliver your pitch, and then shut up and wait.
The 4th Turn – The Close
You have described your background as it is related to their requirements, and now you need to allow the interviewer to pause and process all that he or she has taken in from you. You must give them time to think, so stay quiet and wait. The goal is for them to say “let me show your resume to my boss and see where we go from here.” Patience is required. They will either buy or not.
Success is a feeling, and feelings are contagious. stay smiling, confident and happy.
Be energetic and optimistic, as you leave to interview with their competitor!
About the Author
Donald Truss is a Sales Trainer, Business Process Consultant, and Executive Recruiter – 3,000 requisitions filled and counting! He can be found on LinkedIn. His website at www.SolidusServicesGroup.com.
"I believe that if an appropriate experiment could be devised, it could be proven that no buying decision has ever been made based solely on the facts."
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