So you’re on the job hunt. You found the job. You got the call. You interviewed. What went wrong?
#1 You didn’t know their business: The “I’ll Wing It”
The most understandable reason on this list, “winging it,” will almost always end in rejection. In a job market where each sales role receives 250 resumes on average, interviewers don’t have the time or reason to carry on with candidates who are ill-prepared.
Next time, do your research: The “Starbucks Power Hour”
While it’s unlikely an interviewer will ask you to name their CEO, “What are some of the challenges facing this industry?” is fair game. If you don’t know their industry, their product, their market, it won’t take long for them to notice. Spend an hour at a coffee shop. Study their website, their competitor’s website, their value proposition and general info about the industry. Citing a couple of these stats during an interview immediately shows your commitment to the role.
#2 You weren’t concise: The “Rambling Man”
You’re in sales, you’re a hustler, you’re charismatic and you always have your pitch ready — that doesn’t mean your interviewer wants to hear it all right away. Monster reports that, “After 60 seconds, his [the interviewer’s] mind begins to wander and he’s devoting less than half his attention to you.” If a question begins with, “Tell me about a time,” that means one time. Be selective in your examples and resist the urge to digress. An answer that trails off quickly loses credibility and can be seen as overcompensating.
Next time, be smooth and succinct: The “S.T.A.R.”
Research shows that structuring your answer using the S.T.A.R. method is incredibly effective in behavioural interviews. Your answer should look like this: Situation, Task, Action, Result. Situation: When, where and how you were involved. Task: What needed to be accomplished. Action: What you did. Result: What results followed because of your specific action. Next, find a list of sales interview questions online (there are hundreds) and practice your answers using the S.T.A.R. formula. In time this will become second-nature.
#3 You didn’t know your numbers: The “I Don’t Know Off The Top Of My Head…”
This shortfall is especially detrimental in sales. Sales is an industry built on numbers. Quota, sales cycle, renewal rate, conversions … the list goes on. Hiring Managers want to see that you understand the meaning behind these metrics. Have them top of mind.
Next time, know your numbers: The “Human Calculator”
Start here, a list compiled by Neil Patel from Quick Sprout: “What was your quota? How much of your quota was made up of new sales? How much of your quota was from renewals? How much of your quota was made up of up-sells? What was your average deal size? How long was you current sales cycle? Out of all the sales you closed, how many of those leads were given to you? What percentage of your targets did you achieve?”
The interviewer is looking for two things, a) confidence and b) your ability to adapt what you know about sales to their product/service. Show that you knew your last product/service inside and out and the interviewer will be able to picture you in their open role.
#4 You didn’t look the part: The “I Was Going For The Disheveled Look”
One out of three Hiring Managers say they are able to tell if they are going to hire someone within 90 seconds. That means your presentation matters. Unfortunately, a combo of underdressed, looking doubtful and a limp handshake could rule you out before you even sit down. Hiring Managers are looking at you from a customer’s point of view, nonverbal cues can make or break you.
Next time, look the part: The “You’d Be Crazy Not To Hire Me”
Not sure what to wear? Check out What To Wear To A Sales Job Interview. Nervous? Build your confidence with your Amy Cuddy’s power posing and visualize yourself crushing the interview question by question. Need to perfect your handshake? There’s a app video for that. These small changes add up. Be on time (actually, go early), be alert, walk confidently, dress appropriately (overdress if unsure), bring a professional looking notebook, bring several copies of your resume and references (just in case), follow steps 1-3, nail the handshake and kill the interview. Got all that? Cue the job offer.
# 5 Miscellaneous: The “I Thought I Did Everything Right”
You may have. This is a catch-all for the unknowns. The hiring manager was having a bad day. They already had a person in mind. The position was kiboshed. They hired internally. The interviewer was bias. They couldn’t match your salary. The thought you were overqualified. Without following up there’s a lot of mystery here.
Next time, follow up with your interviewers: The “Live & Learn”
So you didn’t get the role. That doesn’t mean the interview was a total bust. Use this as an opportunity to follow up with the interviewers and ask for candid feedback. This will provide you with some insight on your interview strengths and weakness and could even get you a callback for a role in the future. Each interview is an opportunity to improve both your sales and social skills.
How To Stay Positive
Didn’t work out? Don’t take it personally. Remember, some of the greatest business moguls of all time all faced painful rejection at one point or another. Brian Acton applied for a job at Facebook and was rejected in 2009, five years later he sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $ 19bn. Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because, his editor said, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Steve Jobs was fired by his own company.
Dust yourself off and try again!
There is a job out there for you and you will find it. Good luck!
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