A job interview is essentially a sales meeting. The product or service you are selling and marketing is yourself. The best sales people are very good listeners and thus your most important interviewing skill is listening. Being a good listener allows you to pick up on the subtle details that could indicate interest; these are known as buying signals.
The buying signals will typically come in the shape of questions, comments and reactions to your performance. Buying signals is your clue to an advance in your relationship, this can be a second interview, a technical screening or even a job offer. Here are the top 5 job interview buying signals to keep an eye out for:
1. Your availability
When did you say you could start again? When an employer asks this question, it’s safe to assume that they are picturing you in their office doing the job already. If the hiring manager has a big need in their project or sales team for instance, the sooner someone can start the better. Availability shouldn’t be a knock out factor unless it’s down to you and one other candidate who is equally good. Whoever can start earlier will inevitably be offered the position first. In my experience, candidates fare well when they say: “I have one month’s notice but can take vacation days so should be able to start within 3 weeks”. Indicate that you and your current employer can be flexible on your dates.
2. Your price
What salary are you looking for? This means the employer is calculating how much money they can make by having you on the team. Unless you get this question, you cannot be sure to progress to the next stage. Everyone wants a price tag on what they are buying, your salary will be it. The trick here is to price yourself high enough so that you are comfortable with the salary moving forward. Never go in too low, as it is notoriously tricky to negotiate your way up.
3. Comments and reactions
Verbal buying signals consist of comments like: “exactly what I was thinking, good to speak to a fellow expert” or “that’s the way we should be doing it as well”. When you find the interviewer agreeing with you, deliver some more wisdom and let them soak up every word.
Although a position might require X, Y & Z skills, sometimes the hiring manager will have experienced recent issues with a very specific topic that their people are struggling with. You are likely to receive an unusual amount of questions on this particular subject that day. Stick to it and demonstrate that you either know your stuff or you sympathize and are eager to learn more about the topic. You will see buying signals sparkle instantly. Humor the interviewer and keep talking about it as long as they like. By the end of the meeting, you will be soul mates and this will surely improve your chances drastically. Your ability to switch from a general interview spiel to a directed sales pitch could win you the job.
5. Body language
Last but certainly not least are the nonverbal buying signals. Is the employer leaning forwards with open arms, smiling and looking you in the eye? Probably a very good sign. Are they slouching back over a chair, checking their BlackBerry and avoiding to look at you? Probably not so good. There are lots of rules for body language, most of it is common sense though. My point is that you should look out for it and work it to your advantage. If one person looks interested and the other isn’t, try to work the uninterested person more and win them over. It goes without saying that your own body language should be that of a very polite and keen candidate.
What buying signal told you the job was yours? Which is the most important of them all? Feel free to add a comment below!