When the Employer Invites You to Sell Yourself

by Beverly Harvey

Employers often ask questions early in the interview process that opens the door to a selling opportunity.

The interviewer’s motivation in many cases is to decide whether to move you forward in the interview process; some of these questions are designed to screen you out if you don’t fit the criteria for the responses the employer seeks.

Another motivation is to break the ice, put you at ease (that’s the theory, though questions like “Tell me about yourself” can be nerve-wracking), and help the interviewer learn more about you. These questions also challenge you to explain why you are here – why are you interviewing for this job. That challenge is an opportunity to sell yourself.

Strategy for response

Because questions in the sell-yourself category can cover a wide territory. Here’s a strategy that fits virtually all of these questions:

  • Identify one to three top selling points that you would like to communicate to the interviewer with each response. Be sure these selling points are relevant to the position you’re interviewing for (you’ll know because of the research you’ve done).
  • Relate each response specifically to the organization at which you’re interviewing and the position you’re interviewing for. For example, the desired response to the request “describe your ideal job” is that your ideal job is the job you’re interviewing for. Describe the elements of the organization and position that perfectly fit your qualifications and attributes. Similarly, the best way to answer the question “What are your strengths?” is to list strengths relevant to the employer and the position.
  • Quantify whenever possible. In your “tell me about yourself” response, for example, use metrics such as percentage by which you’ve increased revenue or reduced costs, number of projects you’ve brought in on time and under budget,

Sample questions in this subject area:

  • Tell me about yourself/How would you describe yourself?
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • What do you want in your next job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What separates you from your colleagues?
  • Why do you believe you are the best candidate for this position?
  • How will we know we’ve made the right decision by hiring you?
  • What personal weakness has caused you the greatest difficulty on the job?
  • Why shouldn’t we hire you?
  • What one area do you really need to work on in your career to become more effective on a day-to-day basis?
  • If you could change something about your [life] [career], what would it be?
  • Do you have a geographic preference?
  • Would it be a problem for you to relocate?
  • How much travel are you willing to do for the job?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
  • What are your strengths?
  • Tell me about your greatest strength, and why it will benefit our company.

Sample response for this subject area:

Question: Why should we hire you?

Response: My abilities in so many areas – sales, marketing, promotions, and management – will be invaluable for your company, including my experience working with people with diverse backgrounds and at different levels, my background working with various clients, my work overseeing sales teams, my eye for detail, the fact that I strive to do the best job possible at all times. I’m also reliable, loyal, and trustworthy … and if you hire me, you will have a team player who will add to the integrity and quality of your sales force for years to come. As an example of the kind of results I get that would justify your hiring me: Sales were down in the electronics department of the retail store at which I worked as an assistant manager. The perception was that our products were inferior to a competitor. I took the initiative to create excitement at the store level to increase sales. I attained buy-in from my manager so that I could run a contest. I collected sales data from the store on our products and used that information to back the need for this contest. My manager loved the idea. He thought it was exciting and loved the fact that I provided him with details on how I planned to track the sales process. In the end, I increased sales for that month by 110 percent, which was phenomenal.

If you need help in responding to these questions, schedule a call using this link https://www.harveycareers.com/discussion to discuss our coaching programs or give us a call at 386-749-3111.

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