Work the Interview; Meet the Needs; Close the Sale in Business and at Work

As a career hiring authority who has worked both sides of the interview table with gusto, I’d like to share my experience, strength and hope about the interview process.  And this advice is equally applicable to both job candidates marketing their talents and entrepreneurs marketing their products / services.

Yet another piece of fatherly career advice was Dad’s benchmark of interview success:  “If the interviewer is doing most of the talking, you know you have the sale,” Dad would affirm.

True, it can be a good sign.  It can also just mean that the hiring authority doesn’t know how to interview, dropping back and punting to just talking for talking’s sake.

Or that their HR / Recruiting team has cooked up their own Monty Pythonish version of Trivial Pursuit.  “If you were a lion, what color lion would you be?”  “Blue.  No, Red!”  Interview over, into the ravine with you!

Treating the interview process like a Jeopardy championship demeans everyone, rendering the recruiting / interview process almost farcical.  And studying so you’ll be able to answer the Interview Jeopardy questions correctly, as if the interview process was some version of an adult SAT exam, completely misses the point.

But Dad was on the right track.  Whether you’re selling a product / service or selling yourself as a potential job employee, it’s critical to glean and listen intently for what the needs of the hiring authority really are. Before, during and after the interview. During the interview is the toughest:  it requires you to be courageous and think effectively on your feet.  Yes, it’s uncomfortable.  Yes, you can do it.  When you know conclusively where your talents and strengths lie, it’s a common-sense process.

And then once you determine what the hiring authority’s / client’s needs are, depending on your career and/or business skills and resources, explain authentically and succinctly how you can meet each need.  That’s how I get jobs.  That’s how I get clients.

When it doesn’t work out, I shake it off and move forward:  time to put more irons in the fire.  The more I do it, the less and less my feelings get hurt.  It’s truly business, not personal.

That’s why you should not apply willy-nilly to any job advertised.  If you can’t meet the hiring authorities’ needs, but somehow you magically wrangle an in-person meeting opportunity, you’re wasting everyone’s time.  And risking your reputation in the process, not the best position in a one-degree-of-separation market like SmAlbany.

Periodically over the course of my career, I’ve found myself in situations with hiring authorities where they’re focusing on the great communication chemistry we have and not on whether or not I have the resources after the pink-cloud of the chemistry wears off to meet their needs.  So that’s when I facilitate the decision-maker, gently and respectfully, like Kris Kringle at Macy’s, that they can get their needs better met by shopping at Gimbel’s, so to speak.  That’s the real Miracle on 34th Street:  authentically letting the decision-maker know when you can’t meet their needs, and then helping them to meet their needs elsewhere.  That demonstrated integrity is worth its weight in reputational gold.

Do your research; listen intently; determine the needs; and close the sale outlining how you will meet your decision-makers’ needs, time after time, in business and at work.


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