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Graduate Interview Guide – Creating your Personal Sales Campaign

You have a job interview lined up, it is the gateway to your dream career but you know that there are other candidates in the running, how are you going to secure the role?

Effective selling begins by undertaking research, asking the right questions and taking care to understand the customer’s requirements and a job interview process is the same. In fact replace the term ‘interview process’, with ‘sales campaign’ and you will start to re-evaluate exactly how much control and influence you can have.

Step 1 – Conduct a Critical Analysis

Start by asking yourself, ‘who are my interviewers, what do they need and then most importantly how and why am I the best person to deliver this for them’?
If you have already have secured a job interview through a recruiter they will have already conducted a proportion of the candidate to job matching process on your behalf but what makes you stand out from the competition? Conducting a SWOT analysis (listing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)is a great way to both identify what makes you special (your ‘Unique Selling Points’) and how you will respond to any objections where you may lack some experience or specific skills.

Step 2 – Curate your Personal Profile

In sales, you never sell the same product in the same way twice, no matter how many times you sell it and so, once you have the answers to the above questions, you can start to look at yourself objectively. Work out what your relevant features and benefits are and then how you are going to tailor these to fit the requirements of the position.
In most cases, your interviewer will have had sight of your CV and will have partially assessed your suitability and so telling them that you worked hard for three years at university to achieve a 2:1 whilst holding down a part-time job is not going to come as a great surprise.

What will impress them is how you translate this achievement into meeting business objectives, for example ‘regardless of maintaining the requirement to hold down a 20 hour p/w job to finance my education, I was able to achieve my targeted 2:1 in Strategic Marketing and consequently I conducted a research project on behalf of my employer that resulted in an 50% increase in user traffic to their website ’

Step 3 – Act the Part

Punctuality – Do not be late under any circumstances because apart from your C.V. this is the next thing that they have to judge you from, it is common sense to map out and time your travel route in advance but still aim to arrive 30 minutes early and find somewhere nearby to grab a coffee, that way you can maintain a state of calm and confidence rather than flustered and stressed due to unreliable public transport or lack of parking.

Appearance – Keep it neutral, many companies in tech now promote a flexible, ‘dress down’ culture but where job interviews are concerned do not be channelling the grey T-shirt even if it did cost £600, smart business attire is an absolute must. 55% of first impressions are judged by personal appearance and so whilst statement clothing and jewellery are forms of expression, it is a gamble that your interviewer will relate with you. Dress smart and neutrally and conceal any piercings and tattoos, that way the interviewer will be more inclined to listen to what you are saying rather than judge the way that you look.

Deportment – If you have been asked to wait in a reception area don’t be caught off guard, be aware of your body language; do not slouch, stand up to shake their hand and even if nervous aim to project initial warmth and a smile as the first 10 seconds are essential in creating a lasting impression.

Step 4 – Tailor your Pitch

‘Thanks for coming in today, let me start by asking why should I employ you and what can you bring to my business’….

The request to perform the dreaded ‘elevator pitch’! It is amazing how people from all levels of business continue to get this wrong. When you order a drink at a bar you wouldn’t ask the bar tender to talk you through every drink on the menu and likewise in order to sell yourself effectively you need to be able to understand the requirements of the customer first, so respond by asking what these are,

‘Can I just qualify with you first what you would like to know and what you are looking for’ or ‘I’ve done research and talked to the recruitment company but could I first just check with you what you would like to know’…

That way you can mentally refer back to the preparation that you carried out during Step 2 and how to tailor your response accordingly.

Step 5 – Mirror and Match

Through desktop research, you should also be able to identify the company’s culture and values; they may operate a ‘work hard, play hard’ ethos or describe themselves as ‘trusted, ambitious visionaries’ and as such you should plan to give relevant examples accordingly. Having said that, it can be hard to get a feel for a place until you actually experience it so be mindful about your surrounding environment and try to respond accordingly.

It is increasingly common to be asked ‘scenario-based’ questions in an interview, for example ‘Tell me about a time when you were compromised between adhering to normal procedures or doing something differently’. These questions are deliberately difficult to plan for which is why it is all the more important to know what the business’s values and expected behaviours are after all in Tech, the term ‘disruptive’ often relates more to doing things differently and better, as opposed to being a benign influence within the company!

Step 6 – Question and Qualify

As was referred to in Steps 4 and 5, you are aiming to find out what the interviewer wants to hear from you and to let them hear it so as the interview is drawing to an end, ask if they have any reservations about you. That way you can cover off any remaining relevant experience, ideas or skills that you have that might not have come across already.

Plan at least three meaningful questions that are of genuine interest, as a graduate inevitably progression is important to you but the journey could be very different depending on whether the company is a start-up, SME or corporate.

Finally, if interviewing for a sales role your interviewer will be looking to establish whether you have the confidence to close a conversation appropriately but this is not to be mistaken with being pushy or forceful. In B2B sales there is often multiple decision makers involved in the buying process and you will be required to establish what this decision making process is. Therefore, conclude the meeting by asking what the next steps are and when you should expect to next hear from them, that way they will know with certainty that you have the ability to agree next stages with a client and to make progress and in doing so secure progress through to the next stage and/or securing the job offer.

 

Jill Morris – Training Manager Dec 2017

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Graduate Interview Guide - Creating your Personal Sales Campaign
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Graduate Interview Guide - Creating your Personal Sales Campaign
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You have a job interview lined up, it is the gateway to your dream career but you know that there are other candidates in the running, how are you going to secure the role? Take a look at our graduate interview guide today.
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Celsius Graduate Recruitment
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