I’ve spent the overwhelming majority of the last 20-years in and around sales functions, either working within them as a sales person, hiring as a sales leader or working with hiring managers to recruit top sales professionals.
During this time, I’ve witnessed some fundamental interview mistakes which, for any sales person who has been in the work-place for a reasonable amount of time, should be a criminal offence.
I’ve listed the following pre-interview tips to help you to avoid these mistakes:
Put the effort in, do some quality research and get prepared!
I’m not just talking about jumping on the company website on the way to the interview here. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of what the company proposition is, who their clients are and where they position themselves in the market. I primarily work with B2B SaaS businesses and if you are in this market it’s highly likely you will find case studies, video explainers and all sorts of useful content you can use. You may even be able to demo the product or download an app to get some first-hand experience.
Take some time to review any social channels, including blogs and any careers pages as this will give you a great feel for the culture of the business and how well they market themselves.
I would also suggest spending some time figuring out who the competition is if you don’t already know. Surely, as a salesperson, you would want to know the competition and how they compare? So why wait until the interview to find out. It’s easy to do if you use Linkedin. If you are in tech, then add Crunchbase and G2Crowd to these which will give you competitors, plus lots of great background info.
Read the press… not just the website.
You might find press releases on the website; however, I would suggest doing some digging and seeing what else you can find. If a company is posting PR to their website then chances are it will put them in a positive light. Try and find some alternative takes or some product reviews from impartial sources. Being able to ask some challenging or thought-provoking questions at interview really demonstrates you have done your homework and will impress. I would suggest Gartner’s Magic Quadrant reports as a great resource.
Glassdoor is not the oracle!
I personally take the reviews on Glassdoor with a pinch of salt; however, I do know some people who place way too much weight on them. The site does provide some decent insight and is a good source for company research, but do not take the negative reviews as a reason not to progress to interview with a company. The site is a place for ex-employees and non-performers to sound off and bitch. Equally, the same applies to the positive reviews, many of which are manipulated. Sure, use it for research but go and find out for yourself by asking the right questions at an interview.
Be prepared to show interest in the company and talk about what it would mean to you to be part of it.
Hiring managers will want to hear you speak about your company knowledge, but just as importantly, get a sense you have really put thought into why this would represent an appealing and logical career move for you. They will want to know what hiring you would mean to their business and understand what impact you would expect to make. This should be thoughtful and insightful, not made up on the spot and not focused entirely on improving your earning potential. Being able to overlay your skills and experience with their business objectives will show that this is a considered move and one that you care about and are taking seriously.
BE READY for the call or interview.
An increasing amount of first stage interviews are taking place by phone. If this is the case, find a good place to talk. As a clue, this is not the station platform! If you are struggling for time, don’t force it and blow your chance. Make the time to take a call in the same way you would a face to face interview. It’s incredibly frustrating for an interviewer to speak with someone where there is lots of background noise, has a bad connection or sounds like they are rushing to a meeting.
If you’re meeting face to face, leave enough time to arrive 15 minutes early so you have a chance to take a breather, gather your thoughts and review your notes. It’s imperative to get yourself in a good frame of mind.
Oh, and if you are running late, call ahead! Don’t assume just because it’s only a few minutes it’s OK.
This should be your standard operating procedure for every interview, either face to face or by phone.
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