Thursday, November 4, 2010
This is a guest post by Assad Faquir. My appreciation and thanks Assad!
As one of the millions of people "in transition" I have experienced the highs and lows of "funemployment." As most unemployed people can tell you, one of the highest highs is when you get a call back for an interview. Similarly more than a few us can agree that the lowest low is when that same interview leads no where. For me, I had a few interviews that ended with a "your skills are impressive, BUT we are going with another candidate." Which I know is the professional version of "its not you its me."
After my 3rd or 4th dead end interview in 8 months, I changed the focus of my job search to selling my skills on a contractual basis. The change worked, but I was facing the same "interview" problem with the decision makers I was meeting. I simply couldn't get a commitment from any of them. However I was determined not to squander all of my new opportunities, so I crowdsourced my problem to the experts I know on Twitter. A few people offered advice but one, David Graziano, offered a few minutes of his time to give some techniques. I explained to him that I have a hard time selling myself, and since all interviews are sales calls he offered some good advice. I asked David at what point should I stop trying to sell and let the interviewer sell themselves? David gave me a tip from his personal bag of tricks. He said, when you reach that point of selling yourself too much, ask two questions:
1) What are the problems/issues you have run into trying to get the job accomplished currently?
And after they answer and you have some brief discussion, follow up with:
2) What solutions have you attempted to overcome these issues?
I took David's advice and ran with it. The next morning when I had my 2nd interview with a local bank I reached my maximum sales volume and deployed question 1... and the interviewer ate it up. The interviewer confessed all the struggles they had with the job. It gave me a chance to both empathize and dialogue my experience with similar problems. Then came question 2...again the interviewer ate it up and shared with me all of the solutions that led nowhere. The answers provided by the interviewer allowed me to again empathize with the struggle, but now I could offer some real examples of how I could solve the problem beyond what they had already attempted. In other words I was selling myself as the solution without making it obvious.
Well needless to say David's trick worked to perfection and within 2 days I had a 4 month contract offer in hand. The advice David gave me broke my habit of focusing on ME in the interview and allowed me to focus on the real needs of the company. Which when you think about it is the key to any interview or sales presentation...focusing on the problem and becoming the solution, not assuming you ARE the solution to an unknown problem.