Imagine being sick on the carpet of the president’s office during your interview. How do you recover from that first impression? This recently happened to a candidate interviewing for a vice president level position in a multi-million dollar retail organization. The president took the event in stride. The candidate? It was a moment she will never forget.

The recruiting experts at CreativeSourcing aren’t suggesting that scenario will happen to you, but one of the ways to ensure you have a great interview experience is that you start by imagining the worst that can happen and realize that you can truly survive anything.

So let’s start by imaging your success from the moment you walk through the door. From how you are dressed, to the research you have done in advance; you are ready to knock this one out of the park.

How do you achieve such a calm, professional demeanor? Preparation, says the sales recruiting team at CreativeSourcing.

Here are a few best practice tips for having a successful interview; whether it is your first interview with the organization or they are bringing you back for follow up interviews:

  • Start by researching the organization:
    • Understand their products/services
    • What is their place within the industry
    • What is their recent sales performance
    • Any recent acquisitions, product launches, new locations
    • What can you learn about their culture
    • Seek out current/past employees on LinkedIn that are within your network and ask about their experience working with the company
    • Examine the expectations for the position you are interviewing for and understand completely how your background meshes with their needs
  • Drive to the location the day before:
    • If the company is local, take a test drive to the building to ensure you know how to get there
    • Time your drive during the time you will be interviewing
    • Check for construction bottle necks so that you can be prepared time wise for any eventuality
    • What is the parking situation? Will you need to walk a great distance? Is there a fee that you should be prepared for?
  • Prepare your answers – most interviewers will eventually ask a few basic questions i.e.
    • Why are you the right candidate for this position
    • Why did you leave (why do you want to leave) your current position
    • Where do you see yourself in five years
    • What is your best skill
    • What are your weaknesses
  • Prepare your answers – don’t memorize a speech but be aware of the likelihood that these questions will be asked and have an idea of what you will say
  • Dress professionally:
    • If the company culture is business casual, select an outfit that is slightly dressier than the company dress code; this shows respect
    • Be well groomed, hair cut if necessary, clean nails, minimum jewelry and makeup
    • Recruiting professionals agree that people make decisions based on your appearance before you utter a word; make sure your lasting impression is a positive one.
  • Bring the bare minimum:
    • Bring a writing portfolio with clean paper and two pens
    • Bring several copies of your resume and a copy of the job description
    • Leave the computer bag at home
    • You don’t want to be encumbered by a myriad of bags, purses and accessories that make you appear less organized, clumsy and unprepared
    • The less you carry, the less likely you will be to worry about what you have dropped or left behind
  • Greet everyone with eye contact and a smile:
    • As soon as you arrive at the property, make sure you greet everyone warmly
    • People in the parking lot, receptionist, Administrative Assistants and people in the hallway
    • You never know who they are and your first impressions will be graded and discussed – make sure they have nothing but pleasant things to say about you from the very beginning
  • Use a firm handshake with eye contact and a warm smile:
    • Relax – you have got this!
    • Take a seat where indicated
    • Look around the room quickly to make note of personal items that will give you additional information about the person with whom you are meeting; pictures, trophies, awards, artwork
    • Take a deep breath and then slowly let it completely out; and your nerves will go too!
  • Listen carefully and take your time:
    • This isn’t a race, make sure you hear the question fully and think for a moment before answering
    • Don’t be afraid of silence; resist the urge to rush in and fill the silence with nervous comments, puns or joking banter. The person may just be taking notes or thinking about the next question. Our sales recruiters at CreativeSourcing have hundreds of stories where the filled silence cost the candidate the job; don’t let that be your story.
    • Be honest and authentic – resist the urge to say what you think they want to hear; if you don’t know an answer – say so
  • Ask questions – is this a place you can see yourself working?
    • Although the interviewer leads the interview, make sure you have the opportunity to ask the questions that are most important to you
    • When you leave have a clear understanding as to the next steps in the process and the timing
  • Ask for the job
    • The sales recruiters at CreativeSourcing say that this is one thing most candidates forget. They are so relieved the interview is over they leave without expressing a desire for the job.
    • Before you leave, make sure they know you are interested in the position
    • Remind them why you would be the best candidate for the position
    • Thank them for the opportunity to interview
  • Follow up
    • Send a follow up thank you email to the person(s) you met with
    • Follow with a hand written note that mentions something specific from the interview
    • If appropriate, send a note of thanks to the Administrative Assistant as well – their opinion is just as valuable as the other people you may have encountered
  • Let it go
    • Once you have sent your thank you notes, move on to research the next opportunity
    • Don’t stew over the interview, second guessing, questioning or regretting anything. If you have done the research and presented a true image of who you are and what you offer; let it go

The better you are prepared the more relaxed and authentic you will be. Before your next interview consider the advice from the sales recruiting experts at Creative Sourcing.

If you’re looking for a Sales Job or a Company looking to hire a Sales Recruiter, get in touch, we can help.