Before You Interview for a Sales Job
You want to get a sales job (or get a better sales job). So you've been submitting applications and have finally gotten to the interview stage. Congratulations! Now the prep work begins.
Having a company express interest in you is great, but the last thing you want is to blow it now. A little prep work on your part will help you to ace your interview. If nothing else, having done your homework ahead of time will make you feel more confident—which is absolutely vital to any sales situation.
And if you're interviewing for a job, that's a sales situation.
Get Ready to Look Good
When you walk into an interview, your interviewer is going to assume that you dressed to impress. In other words, however you look for the interview is the best you're going to look. And in any sales job, appearance is critical—so your interviewer will be even more inclined to judge you by appearances than they would for another type of job.
Ideally, you want to wear something similar to what your interviewer is wearing. Since you probably don't know what that will be, err on the side of dressing up. When in doubt, lean towards conservative outfits. A good suit will almost always be appropriate for a sales interview. And be absolutely certain that your clothes are in good shape!
Pick out your clothes no later than the night before and check the outfit for stains, wrinkles, etc. Examine your shoes and polish away any scuffs or dull patches.
Ladies, pick out your jewelry ahead of time and polish that, too. And don't forget to check for your pantyhose for runs.
Research Your Prospective Employer
At the very least, review your interviewer's website closely. Know their products and services and read any recent press releases. Next, check the news for anything about the company.
If you see good news, you can mention it in the interview as a “why I want to work for you” item. If you see bad news, you can talk about how you would help the company fix it.
If you have time, do the same level of research on the company's major competitors. That arms you with even more intelligent comments.
As you proceed, be thinking about questions that you can ask your interviewer. Most interviewers will give you a chance to ask them something, and you will look very smart if you can come up with a few specific questions about the company and its products.
Document Your Victories
Any time a customer writes you a letter thanking you for great service or your boss emails to congratulate you for a job well done, make copies of those documents. They are terrific ammunition for interviews. Not only do they provide proof that you are as good as you claim, they also give you something physical to leave behind with the interviewer. Think of it as the job-hunting version of leaving a brochure for the prospect to look at.
If you don't have copies and your interview is tomorrow, you'll have to improvise. Have you got any sales awards or plaques? Snap pictures of them with a digital camera and stick the photos in a document with some descriptive text.
Failing that, write up a list of some of your biggest workplace accomplishments and/or how you would be a great fit for the company (and here's another place you can take advantage of that research you did earlier).
Learn From Past Interviews
If you've already been on a few interviews, you've probably been hit with some questions that stumped you. These will range from the classic “What are your weaknesses?” to specific scenarios like “If you met with a prospect and X happened, what would you do?” I've always felt the only 100% honest answer to “What are your weaknesses?” is “I'm not about to tell you that,” but when you're interviewing for a sales job your prospective boss will be looking for clever, persuasive answers to tough questions.
Before you go on your next interview, sit down and write out solid responses to any questions that left you babbling.
If you're interviewing for similar jobs, odds are you'll get asked one or more of those questions again and this time you'll be ready.