How do you end an interview?” asked Ken, a Baby Boomer. “Should I be bold and just say hire me, no one is better? Will I sound too cocky or demanding and lose the job?”
Good questions. I have never been a fan of the sales strong-arm approach where you push for the job and blatantly ask for it at the end. I haven’t seen it work, and it can turn off employers. There is a much more effective way to end the interview and leave the employer with a strong impression of you.
The 60-second sell is your tool to spark an employer’s interest to close out your interview. This 60-second verbal business card will summarize your skills, abilities and previous experience in a well-thought-out fashion that will immediately make the employer know why they should hire you. The 60-second sell is a proven shortcut to your success. Many career counseling clients have reported it was the best job-search technique they’d ever used. It’s easy to create and easy to implement. Once you’ve learned this technique, your interviews will be significantly improved because you will be able to do the most important thing necessary to land a job—get the employer to recall you and your abilities.
How Do You Close The Employer?
When the interview is at its end, and you’ve asked your questions, and they have explained what will be next, most people say goodbye. You are not going to do that. Instead, you are going to say, “Thank you for the opportunity to learn about your position. I’m very interested in this job. In closing, let me summarize for you what I bring to the position.” Then you conclude with your verbal business card, what I call the 60-second sell. It is most effective because once you are done saying it, you leave and the employer takes notes and evaluates you as an applicant. The 60-second sell offers your top five selling points for performing the job. Here’s how it works.
Begin With A Five-Point Agenda
The five-point agenda is a hiring strategy created to focus on the needs of the employer and the job to be done. The five-point agenda is a predetermined analysis in which you select your five most marketable points and repeatedly illustrate these points throughout the interview process. It is this repetition and reiteration of exactly how you’ll meet her needs that allows the employer to remember something about you. My clients have tested this interview approach with the following results:
• It made interview preparation easier.
• They were highly rated by everyone who interviewed them.
• The five points seemed to be all that was remembered.
• They credited the five-point agenda and the 60-second sell as being the two techniques that secured the job offer.
Job hunters are often amazed to learn that an interviewer can ask you questions for an entire hour and not hear one word you’ve said. He may be bored, frustrated or unimpressed with your image or the first few answers. After interviewing several people, all the candidates begin to blend together. I experienced this when I hire people, and countless other employers continuously confirm this fact. The five-point agenda quickly captures an employer’s interest because you are continually emphasizing exactly how you can do the job right from the start.
The Formula: Creating Your Strategy
Examine your previous experience. Write out the key responsibilities for each job you’ve held. Note any special accomplishments. Zero in on your essential work strengths—those abilities where you excel and are most productive.
Check with your contacts and use your network to get as much background as possible about the employer, the company, and the position’s needs. Many times, your contacts will point out the very aspects that must make up your five-point agenda. Other times, there will be little information available, and you will need to guess based on your general knowledge about performing the job.
After reviewing the employer’s and position’s needs, determine which of your abilities and which aspects of your experience will be most relevant to the employer. Then create your five-point agenda, selecting each point to build a robust picture emphasizing how you can do the best job.
This major automotive manufacturer required experience in both quality assurance and new product design. The candidate’s five-point agenda was:
• Point 1: Implemented new four-year quality-assurance program that received a national Quality 1 Award.
• Point 2: Effectively dealt with employee resistance to quality improvements.
• Point 3: Conducted on-site inspections of 37 suppliers to improve the quality of parts received.
• Point 4: Five years’ design engineering experience.
• Point 5: Excellent communication skills when working with both technical and nontechnical staff.
Create Your 60-Second Sell
The 60-second sell allows you to summarize your most marketable strengths briefly and concisely. Successful job hunters have found the 60-second sell:
• Was effective in capturing the employer’s attention.
• Provided excellent, concise answers to tricky questions.
• Was very easy to use.
• It was a memorable way to end an interview.
The 60-second sell is a 60-second statement that you customize for each interview, and that summarizes and links together with your five-point agenda. You will want to put the points of your five-point agenda into an order that allows you to present them in the most logical and effective manner. When you link the ideas into sentences, they should be said in 60 seconds or less. Once memorized, this statement will be easy for you to recall and use to close the interview.
To continue with our example:
Using his 60-second sell, this applicant was able to get the job offer. His 60-second sell went something like this:
“For my last employer, I implemented a new quality-assurance program for seven plants over four years. We received the Q 1 Award for our efforts. Along the way, I’ve learned to effectively deal with employee resistance to quality improvements through training, selling teamwork concepts,and utilizing a personal empowerment approach. I have evaluated 37 suppliers during on-site inspections to improve the quality of their product—parts that will ultimately become pieces of my company’s final product. My five years in design engineering and my strong communication skills have aided me in my ability to work with a diverse population and solve technical problems. These are the reasons I feel I would make a valuable contribution to your company.”
Both the 60-second sell and the five-point agenda must be customized and created for each interview. They may vary slightly or greatly based on what you determine to be that employer’s most essential needs and your most marketable abilities to meet those needs. These tools allow you to take control of the interview and get the employer to recognize the kind of skills and contributions you will bring to the job and the organization. As you are leaving, you offer the very best reasons why they should hire you when concluding with your 60-second sell.
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