When interviewing for a sales job, everything is big. Big salaries, big titles, and big benefits. They all hang in the balance when we flash our opening smile to start the interview process. Despite what anyone would have you think, few interviews, even when aced, actually end in a job offer. In fact, if you the interviewee, don’t take action, you will likely be walking to your car an hour later not knowing much more than you did at the start.
Traditional interviewing advice tells you act as if you want the job long before you actually do. Be polite. Be enthusiastic. Answer questions thoroughly. Actively listen.
Instead of playing the good candidate, why not make a point of getting you own questions answered first? Does this mean you should be rude? If your interviewer won’t relinquish control of the conversation, I’d say “Yes, maybe a little.” You could say something a simple as, “Mrs. Interviewer, I’d be happy to answer your question, but before we move on I need to know about…” Get your questions answered ASAP and don’t apologize. Why?
Consider the following 5 benefits to risking all-out job interview failure:
1. You find out what you really want to know.
Do you really want to wait until you’ve had six interviews and you’ve flown across the country to find out the company can’t pay what you need to make? Can you imagine accepting a job for a company that sells their services at a 20-30% premium over their competitors for no clear reason? People do it all the time (I’m not proud to admit I know from experience). Don’t wait until you’ve fallen in love with the job to find out!
2. You save yourself from a job you’d hate.
Find out here and now what the boss is really like. According to research, people often freely enter romantic relationships with gaps in knowledge about the other person. They fill in these gaps with positive assumptions ie. “I’m sure he likes to go shopping.” or “I’m sure she likes to go on vacation” (See more on Aaron T. Beck’s research below). Don’t start the job interview process the same way! Many interviewers are simply looking to quickly dismiss unqualified candidates. It’s OK for you to take the same approach and look to quickly eliminate job opportunities that aren’t a fit for you. Just like any other relationship, you don’t want to jump in half-blind and hope for the best.
3. Even if you do offend your interviewer, you’ll learn that failure isn’t lethal.
Let’s say you get your questions answered, but bomb the interview, what now? Should you call 911? Chances are you uncovered some valuable information such as you never want to work for that person or company. Conversely, you may find that you are finally sold on working there and are now truly motivated to re-double your efforts at getting hired. When the time comes to ask bold questions in your next interview, you will be more confident. In his book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants”, author Malcolm Gladwell shares that people can overcome tall odds using the confidence of having nothing to lose. If you’re not sure if you want the job, you too have nothing to lose!
4. Direct, honest questions benefit employers as well.
Even if they do get their interview interrupted and pride questioned, employers learn from your questions exactly what is important to you. They also learn that you are not afraid to challenge an authority figure. This is a sales skill sometimes required in order to work with headstrong customers. In a broader sense, asking difficult-yet-sincere questions demonstrates you actually care about the job fit. You are serious about your job search and you would not join their company simply for the sake of having a job.
5. If all else fails, you at least gain some funny anecdotes to share with your friends.
When it’s clear that neither you nor your career died because of a single job interview, you will see the absurdity of it all. I’ve interviewed for my share of sales jobs over the years, most of which, I am happy I did not get offered. Some of the hiring managers I’ve met could walk straight out of the movie Office Space. One told me his greatest strength was being a micromanager!
When you know, deep down, you want the job you will do a better job interviewing for it. The single biggest mistake I’ve made in this process is giving employers the benefit of the doubt. Assuming you’ll like the job without getting the information you need, leaves your career and your happiness to chance. Don’t waste time convincing yourself it’s the right job. Determine what you want and ask for it. Your future self will thank you!
To find Malcom Gladwell’s book on Amazon click here.
Aaron T. Beck wrote an insightful entitled “Love Is Never Enough: How Couples Can Overcome Misunderstandings, Resolve Conflicts, and Solve Relationship Problems Through Cognitive Therapy”. In it, he describes in detail the mistakes people make when entering romantic relationships. To find it on Amazon click here.