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8 tips to successfully sell yourself in a job interview

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Do you know how to sell yourself? No need to panic if that feels alien. Sales expert Rob King is here to help.

Sure, a job interview is about getting to know each other and figuring out if you and a role are the right fit. But it’s mainly about one thing: convincing your interviewer that you’re absolutely brilliant. For self-deprecating types and modest mice, this can feel more than a little uncomfortable. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to fake it till you make it. Easy, in fact. The key lies in understanding the basic sales skills involved in selling yourself, rather than a product. Rob King is an expert in sales, so knows his stuff when it comes to those skills. Ahead, he shares eight tips to bear in mind for your next job interview.

Ask about vision

“One of my favourite questions to ask in an interview is something like, ‘What’s your vision for the company (or this role)?’” King tells Stylist. “It’s such a big question that it gets them talking about how you might fit into their vision. This single question pretty much secured me a dream job in the music industry – try it, it works!”

Choose the time of your interview carefully

Don’t just take the first interview slot your potential workplace offers. Think about what time you’re at your best, so you can best sell that version of you. “Think about the best time to have the interview,” King recommends. “When would suit you? Do you perform best in the morning or at the end of the day? “Personally, I never meet anyone on a Friday afternoon. It feels like people are winding down and have subconsciously ‘clocked off’. I don’t want to be largely forgotten about come the following week. “Similarly, Mondays are a busy ‘doing’ day for most people, so I rarely have face-to-face meetings on a Monday. That only leaves Tues-Thurs. Don’t be afraid to try to ask for a slot on your terms, not theirs. Remember they are interested in you so have the confidence to ask for a slot when you’ll be at your best.”

Be prepared

Do you think a great salesperson freewheels their pitch with no research or forethought? Probably not. Make sure you do your prep to be – and feel – completely ready for any question that’s thrown at you. “Don’t rock up having not done your homework,” King tells us. “At the very least, have a quick look at their website or LinkedIn profile. Offer some insights as to what you’ve learned about the company or role. You cannot go into an interview without having done your research. There is no excuse!”

Ask open questions

King urges: “You should be asking a lot of questions. Use words and phrases like ‘What…?’ ‘How…?’ or ‘Tell me…’ in front of any question you ask. This open-question technique will help get the other person – or interview team – to open up because it prompts them to talk. Avoid closed questions that invite just yes or no answers. ‘Why?’ can be quite defensive, too, so use it sparingly. “This is a very helpful technique to gain key information, balance out the conversation and ensure it’s not you talking too much.”

Make it your aim to get rid of the tension

Interviews can be uncomfortable. And when there’s discomfort, it’s hard to make a sale. “So part of your job in any interview is to help lower the natural and instinctive tension levels that will be present,” King notes. “As human beings, tension is hardwired into us because it helps us to approach any new or unfamiliar situations with a degree of wariness. Once you know this, you can work with it and not let the nerves (theirs and yours) get in the way. “Create an environment to allow this to happen and make people feel at ease. Ask those key questions that help build rapport and trust. Offer a suggested structure to your responses, be clear and succinct, and always ask them about their agenda for the time you have together. Get those tension levels down as quickly as you can.”

Work out how to reset

An essential part of selling anything is making sure it’s in the best condition, so it can perform at its peak. The same goes for you. You need to do whatever you can to make yourself feel fully rested, relaxed and restored. King says: “How are you feeling? Are you prepared and relaxed? If not, what can you do to get yourself into a prepared and relaxed state? Clear the diary for some prep time? Go for a walk? Some breathing exercises? Make a cup of tea or coffee? What is the best way for you to take a five-minute break and reset before any important interview?”

Don’t let your interviewer’s body language put you off

King asks: “How is the interviewer behaving? Do they seem relaxed and happy to talk? Or do they seem bored and disinterested? Don’t be thrown by it if they do – ask them what they’d like to get out of the time and what they’d like to know about you. People often give body language signals that can be misinterpreted. It’s important to not be put off by things that are unexpected or let them affect your overall plan.”

Finish with one simple idea

When you sell a product, you need an aha moment – a slogan or one simple idea that sticks with people after the pitch is done. Take a similar approach to selling yourself. “Aim to leave the interviewer with a simple idea or thing to remember you by,” King recommends. “Most people forget 80% of what is said in a meeting. Therefore, start and finish the interview with one simple easy-to-remember anecdote or fact about you and your experience. You can use it as an opening or closing statement – it’s highly memorable, especially when told as a story.”

Rob King is a sales expert, founder of The Client Key and author of Selling Creativity. Images: Getty



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