Is This Hiring Manager Buying What You’re Selling?

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Very disappointed manThough few of us may like to openly acknowledge it, the hiring process has more in common with a sales process than you might think. It’s not particularly flattering to think of oneself, the interviewee, as a product and with you having to convince the employer/customer to buy the goods that you have on offer. But, there are so many similarities between getting hired and selling a product that it would make at least some sense to try and deploy some of the techniques that have been honed over the decades by sales people in the process of getting oneself hired.

Of course, many of the sales techniques may not be suitable for the interview room, but some are, and I have highlighted some of the more relevant ones below and placed them within the context of job interviewing.

Let’s start with the CHEF technique; this is part of a closing technique that can help you to see if the hiring manager is indeed buying what you are selling, which means you would deploy it toward the end of the interview after you’ve had a chance to strut your stuff. The CHEF technique allows you to judge how receptive the hiring manager is to your candidacy. Does he or she like you or not? For example, if you are getting all the positive CHEF signs below from the hiring manager, then the person is interested in what you are selling and you might want to think about some closing techniques to help cement the deal. The CHEF signs are:

C: Cheek or Chin-Stroking the cheek/chin, nodding, leaning forward shows satisfaction.

H: Hands-Open and relaxed, with palms upwards and rubbings hands. (Tugging ears!)

E: Eye Contact-Constant eye contact is positive and dilated eyes means relaxed.

F: Friendliness-Smiling, relaxed and casual conversation.

Some other positive signs can be, asking about “price”, (e.g. what are your salary demands and how negotiable are they), which means they are sold on the beneficial impact you would make on the organization. Another positive sign is reinforcing or agreeing with your opinions. So, with these positive signals occurring in your interview, what steps can you take to move further toward the close and being seen as the ideal candidate for the job?

You can try what is known as a trial close where you ask the hiring manager for an opinion rather than a decision. This communicates your keenness without forcing him or her into a corner but enables you to move closer to your goal of being offered the job. So, ask the hiring manager something like, Based on what you’ve heard today, how well do you think I would fit into the role?, as opposed to, Do I have the job?

Can you see the difference?

You can also try a minor point close where you try and get them to make a low risk decision that advances you toward your goal and hope that momentum carries you the rest of the way. For example, I have some additional examples of work I’d like to show you; would it be okay if I emailed it and called to take you through it? Get the hiring manager to commit to further contact with you. This can help to move you toward your goal.

You can also try the continuous yes where you ask questions that are meant to be answered with a yes, creating more positivity. Good questions might be, “May I tell you what I think the main contributions I feel I can make to your business are?” and/or “I have some ideas on how you can make more money with this product. Would you like to hear them?”

If you are feeling confident you might want to go for a more direct close by saying something like, “My recruiting agent may have mentioned that my notice period was 2 months, but I believe this can be negotiated down to 1 month as long as I can speak to my manager before the quarterly work allocations are given out.” (Or something which shows that acting sooner will mean you can join sooner. Don’t Lie.)

And just before leaving, make sure to do a summary of strengths and benefits that you bring to leave the hiring manager with a strong impression.

So, there you have it: some simple sales techniques that can be deployed in the interview to help you move toward your goals of getting a job. You can read more about the techniques I have talked about in this article as well.

Read more in Interviewing

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.