Want to know how to blow that interview you have for your dream job? You’ve probably already blown it if you are seeking advice on interview tips — such as how to answer the typical questions that you’ll get at a job interview. That’s right, you’ve already blown it! I’m not kidding. You’ve blown it, and you haven’t even had the interview yet!

The job interview seems like a firing squad, doesn't it?

The dream job interview can go several different ways. But for here is the typical way, and the way that probably has only a 1% chance of being successful. It goes like this: the applicant will be escorted to the person that is handling the interview for the job, and they’ll take a seat across from them at a table. As the applicant sits quietly, the interviewer will grab the applicant’s paperwork, the resume and cover letter, and give it a quick perusal. After a short, but awkward silence, the interviewer will start firing questions at the applicant. It seems like a firing squad, because it is.

Have you ever had an interview that was any different from this? Every job interview is like this! Am I right? Because of this, how many job interviews do you have to go through like this to land a job? Five? Ten? Twenty? The success rate of getting a job with this process is at best 20% and could be as low as .5%. That is pretty dismal, isn’t it?

There is a way to improve your odds. The way, as I suggested in our last article, is to view the interview as a sales scenario. You, as the applicant, are the salesman. The company, is the client. They are “buying” an employee, and you — you are “selling” your services as the employee.

If you were talking to a real, commission-based salesman, they would go ga-ga over this situation. Look at it from their perspective. The salesman already knows the customer is in “the market,” and is in buying mood! That is 90% of the effort toward making the sale!

How many times does a salesman walk away from a client saying that they weren’t buying today? Ask a salesman, and they’ll say that it is nearly all of their clients. And you are sitting in front of a client that has made it known that it is there intention to buy today? “Are you kidding?” the salesman exclaims. They would jump at this opportunity, because the chances of closing the sale are so high with clients like that, that they almost feel like it is taking candy from a baby.

In plain terms, a job interview really means the client is screaming: “I’m buying! Let’s haggle over the price and the terms.” The reality is that you only need to learn some closing techniques to end the process and land the job. It is really almost that simple.

The Job Interview Is A Sales Scenario – Treat It Like One

You MUST realize that the interview is actually a sales scenario. Most people don’t understand this, and therefore they don’t run it like a sales presentation.

Are You Presenting Solutions To The Employer's Problems?

For starters, the professional salesman doesn’t let the client run the meeting – which is what most job interviews turn out to be. So instead of being peppered with questions from the client, the salesman must take control of the situation and run the meeting to their advantage.

But yet, most people will walk into an interview so woefully unprepared, that they don’t know where to start the sales process. And then the interview process goes “thud” almost immediately.

What happens then? Because the salesman has no prepared agenda, the interviewer then takes command because they don’t have time to waste with salespeople that don’t know what they are doing. It is the situation of the pathetic salesman.

The Pathetic Salesman

Just imagine you owned a business and a salesman walked in the door with a pile of gold bricks to sell. You can tell they were for sale, because there was a large sign on them that says “Gold bricks for sale!” But the salesman didn’t say a word when he came into the building. They just stammered. Finally, he says, “Would you like to buy a gold brick?”

Duh! Of course you would. But now you realize you have an opportunity to buy the gold at a ridiculously low price because the salesman is pathetic. You start inspecting the bricks, and you start pointing out flaws in them. You ask where the gold bricks came from, and who touched them before. You ask how they got dings and scratches in them. You ask about a guarantee that they might come with. It is the classic haggling situation where you point out all the bad stuff to get the salesman to come down to a commodity price.

But then you realize that if one salesman with gold bricks came in your door, there might be another one that might drop by tomorrow.

If one salesman in the industry was this bad, how much of a better deal could you get tomorrow?

It is the same in the job interview situation. If the applicant is an inexperienced salesman, and they don’t take control of the sales presentation, what do you expect will happen next? Exactly. The interviewer will start blasting questions at them, asking them to tell them about the “product” (the person).

As in the pathetic salesman story, this can only be bad for the applicant. Right? What can you possibly say when you are being turned into a lump of metal and they are trying to buy the best one at the cheapest price? Eventually the applicant will stammer and spew nonsense things, like that they are a perfect fit for the job, and that they are a fast learner, and they can do everything.

This is so dumb, that I can’t imagine how anyone ever lands a job. But I’ll tell you… The employer gets fed up with dealing with pathetic salespeople (the applicants). And their problem hasn’t gone away and they have to get it solved. The longer the time, the more urgent it becomes to get it fixed. So they reach down into the pile of resumes and they look for the least pathetic person. It isn’t the “best one that will fix their problem,” but the one person that they thing will cause the fewest additional problems in the future.

I think employment gurus that teach how to prepare for an interview by learning all the right phrases to common questions are doing their clients a big disservice. In fact, it is almost criminal what they are doing, because they are not really giving the applicant any kind of real advantage going into the interview. They are always teaching defensive techniques, and not offensive ones.

Offense or Defense? Which Wins Ballgames?

It is like this: you will never win a game of basketball if all you do is learn defensive skills. You can’t. The best you can hope for is a draw, with the final score being zero-to-zero. Without scoring points, you have no chance to win. You MUST be able to score on offense too. Learning the right phrases to interview questions is a defensive skill, not one that puts you on offense.

Why hasn’t anyone been saying this to job applicants? This is basic stuff! If those get-a-job gurus are getting paid for just teaching defensive skills without teaching offensive techniques, they ought to be fired. You should be paying me instead. I’m the only person that teaches this basic, but priceless, information.

You should be learning offensive sales techniques, because this is a sales situation. How do you play offense in a sales situation? By putting the other person on defense, of course. You ask them questions!

Questions Not to Ask

Asking questions is the way to start, but you have to ask targeted and smart questions. Asking stupid questions is like passing the basketball to a player that is standing out-of-bounds. That is a disaster from the get-go.

Let me give you an example of how stupid the employment gurus really are. I don’t like picking on anyone in particular, so I did some really basic research on what they were suggesting to applicants to ask when they went on a job interview. I found these types of questions by going to google and searching for the phrase: “questions to ask in a job interview.”

Here are a few questions that these guru’s suggest you ask the employer. As you read them, imagine that you were the one doing the hiring. In that case, what does the question reveal about the person asking the question? Do they reveal that the person is there to solve a problem and be a servant, or does the question reveal that the person is concerned about their own well-being?

  • Can you describe an ideal employee?
  • Can you tell me about the competencies necessary to perform this job?
  • How is performance measured and reviewed?
  • Can you describe a typical day in this job?
  • Can you portray the best and worst aspects of this job?
  • Does the company have a generalist or specialist focus?
  • How long do people usually stay in this job?
  • Why did the last person leave this job?
  • Could you explain your organizational structure to me?
  • Where does this position fit in the organization?
  • How many employees are in this department?

If you ask me any of these questions, and I’m the one doing the hiring, I can guarantee that you won’t get the job. These types of questions reveal that you know nothing of my problem, and you’re just fishing (or “phishing”) for information to set yourself up as the perfect candidate for the job. I can just hear the words coming out of the mouth of the applicant now: “I’m the best qualified person for this job. You just described me to a ‘T’. When do you want me to start?”

I’ll respond by saying something like: “Wow, I’m excited by the possibilities of having you work here. But I still have a ton of other applicants to interview that I’ve committed to seeing. After we’re done interviewing them all, I’ll make up my mind. At that point I’ll give the person a call and let them know they got the job.” The only part I’ll leave out is that they are the low person on the list of desirable candidates. They are so low in fact, that I’d interview everyone else on the planet first before I’d hire them.

How To Handle The Situation?

How would I handle the situation, especially if this was for a dream job that I really wanted? I’ll give you a hint… Since this is a sales situation, what would a salesman ask the client?

Think about that until the next installment in this series of articles.


Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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