Before I got into HR, I tried my hand at sales. My compensation was 100% commission (i.e. no sales no money), which impacted the length of my career in sales (I lasted less than a year). Short stint aside, I learned a lot as I slid down this rabbit hole, with perhaps the most important thing being that any salesperson worth his or her salt must be willing to “ask for the sale. Asking for the sale is a different take on what we see in the movies where the Wall Street types are dialing and the manager comes out of his glass office only to impress upon those who aspire to be in the glass office to “always be closing.” I suppose being in the south management felt it was more polite to “ask” for something; to “always be closing” just sounds so pushy – too New York – and that will just never do.
The reason asking for the sale was seen as so critical to any salesperson’s success was probably because most of us sucked at it. We would go in and make our case, get the prospective client primed and ready to buy, only to give them our business card and wait for their call; which never came.
This principle of asking for the sale applies to job seekers as well. If you interview for a job, you are selling you. You are hawking your unique skills, abilities and, I hate to break this to you, your personality. You are explaining to a prospective employer why they need look no further than you. Why they don’t look at another resume because you are it. You are the bomb-dot-com and they need to hire you, and not the other guy. In other words: you need close the deal.
You need to ask for the sale.
Closing the deal in an interview can take many different forms. There is the classic “so, when can I start?” approach, but let’s be honest – sure you are asking for the sale, but c’mon, that’s just a little too arrogant for most palettes. In fact, it borders on the “always be closing” mentality (which may work in New York). My advice is to simply tell them that you are excited by what you have seen and/or heard. Tell them that it sounds like the perfect opportunity and that (in no uncertain terms) you want to take the next step. It is not a magic bullet, but I have seen many hiring manager’s opinion shift when a candidate ended an interview by saying “this sounds like a great opportunity, I would love to be a part of this company/organization/team.” The crazy part is, HARDLY ANYONE ACTUALLY SAYS THAT. In fact I hear far more “so, when do I start?” than “this sounds like the perfect opportunity for me…” spiels.
I honestly believe had I not said this myself, had I not asked for the sale, I may not have ever gotten into HR in the first place. You see, when I interviewed for my first job in HR I knew it was what I wanted to do; so at the end of the interview I looked the nice lady in the eye and said “I am very excited about this opportunity, and would love to come to work here.” Not long after that first interview that nice lady went on to become one of my favorite bosses and a great mentor to me. Need more proof? about a year later I was having lunch with that same boss and I brought up our interview. She told me that I was the only person she interviewed who actually said they wanted the job. Now I know that isn’t the only reason I got the job, my timeless good looks and unmatched charm did most of the work, but telling her that I wanted it sure didn’t hurt.
In closing let me be clear: “this sounds very interesting, I would like to learn more,” is not asking for the sale, rather it is the interview equivalent of leaving your business card.