Interviewing – Critical Communication Skills for Salespeople and Job Seekers

By Mark Vickers

Whether you are in a one-on-one sales discussion or interviewing for a new job, your success will heavily depend on your communication skills during the interviewing process.

In a very short period of time you will be required to:

  • Build rapport
  • Gather information
  • Share information
  • Close the deal

It is a standard sales call repeated thousands of times a day. It’s also the framework for a standard job interview; the only difference is instead of selling a product or service you are selling yourself.

To make the most of your ”interview” with a hiring manager or purchaser, here is a series of steps that will help you communicate in the most effective manner.



479479325While it shouldn’t need to be said, learn as much about the company as possible.

Your intent in researching the company is not to regurgitate everything they already know, or to prove you are willing to research, but rather to prepare great questions.

The person on the other side of the desk will know you did your research through the questions you ask.

As you conduct your research, look for:

  • Company history
  • Products and services
  • Recent news and announcements
  • Testimonials

With your research in hand, it is time to prepare for your interview.


What can you do for them?

During the interview it is important to figure out the best way to show that you have something they need.

Most people are more concerned with their own needs than those of others. The salesperson is concerned with getting the order, and the job seeker in getting the job.

While this is important that you are taken care of, making the person and company you are talking to your primary concern will generate the results you desire.

The best way to position yourself is to use your research to ask powerful and appropriate questions.

For example, you could ask any of the following:

  • What do you feel is the biggest challenge the company (or department) is facing?
  • What is the number one goal of your team?
  • If you could achieve one improvement next month what would it be?

Through these questions, you will get the interviewer talking more about the company and requirements, providing you an opportunity to give responses indicating how you can help with the situation facing the company. Make sure to keep answers short, and to the point.

You are planting seeds that lead them to wanting you on their staff. Plant many seeds along the way, while keeping them talking, and your chances for success will increase.


Be knowledgeable but teachable.

Through your questions and comments, you will have opportunities to share your knowledge that is relatable to their business (remember, don’t waste time sharing extraneous detail that they don’t care about).

When given an opportunity to talk about how you have handled similar situations in the past, look for opportunities to demonstrate a willingness to learn and be flexible.

For example, you might respond to a question with:

“In my previous experience, I learned that {this approach} worked well.”

Then ask a follow-up question like:

  • How do you prefer that type of situation to be handled?
  • How is that work done here, because I am open to a new and better approach?

For a salesperson, demonstrating this type of flexibility shows the prospect that you are focused on what they want and need, and finding the best way to achieve their goal. For the job seeker, you demonstrate that you are open to new ideas and approaches, yet have the ability to hit the ground running.


Demonstrate confident humility

During your interview it is important to speak in a confident tone of voice. The challenge you face is that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

In order to prevent giving off an impression of overconfidence, enlist the help of your family and closest friends. Ask each of them the simple question, “Do I ever come across as arrogant or as a know-it-all?” If anyone says yes, dig deeper to understand why, and commit to making sure it doesn’t happen in an interview.

Develop your communication skills to assist you in interviewing with “confident humility”.

While overconfidence is dangerous in an interview, too much humility (and often just a quiet personality) will come across as weak, and unassertive. If this sounds like you, it is important to develop your ability to ask questions and share information with confidence.



Once you have completed your research, and developed questions you will use, it is time to practice.

During your interview you will be using your speaking skills to sell you and your services. You need to be clear and concise.

Whether it is your first sales call or job interview or you are a seasoned professional, how you present yourself will carry more weight than anything written on paper or websites.

Spend the time preparing for your interview or sales call as if it is the most important presentation you have ever made … because it is.


MarkVickers-011Mark A. Vickers

Speaker, Coach, Author of “Speaking Is Selling – 51 Tips Your Mother Taught You”

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