In an interview, the candidate is asking for the sale – an offer letter from the prospective employer. Without the offer from the client, there is no job for the candidate – you.
If you break an interview down to its essence, each party is attempting to learn if each can work together to achieve mutual goals. The hiring manager is determining if the potential candidate (you) can best meet the job criteria for skills and fitting in with the team. The candidate (you) is deciding if the work supports your career and the manager is a person who will help in your career.
So how, as a candidate, do you ask for the sale?
There is a saying in the “win-lose” version of sales that after asking for the sale, the next person to speak loses.
If it’s you, the sales person, it means you didn’t move your agenda forward and learn if there are any objections to your offer. If it is the client, then it is a way for the sales person to either get the sale or get an objection, both of which can be dealt with in a way that makes sense for the salesperson and the client.
During an interview, you won’t be asking for the offer letter, of course. But if you apply the “ask a question and wait for an answer” approach, it should work like this:
Hiring manager asks a question.
You respond with a short, direct answer.
At the end of your answer, you ask a question about how what you answered fits in with the skills or fit-for-team needed to be hired.
Hiring manager answers your question and gives you more information.
Hiring Manager: “Give me an example of where you improved the Customer Service Rating.”
You: “We analyzed comments from the customer survey and determined we had a problem with agents not providing the ticket numbers of escalated tickets to the customer. We implemented a program to change this and it raised the customer service rating by a half point in six months.
Are you having issues now with customer service and, if so, how are you planning to deal with them?”
Hiring Manager: “Yes, we are having issues with lowered ratings and so far what we’ve tried hasn’t been as effective as we would like.”
What you have done here with this example is shown skill in the area questioned – but now also determined why the question was being asked. You now have context behind the question that you can use to further show your skills directly at the issues causing problems for the manager.
When you can focus like this, you have a much better chance of getting the job offer.
Usually, we just answer the hiring manager’s question and never find out more information that would help us secure the job offer. You don’t need to ask a question with every answer you provide – but ignoring the opportunity completely won’t help you get the job offer.
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