Hey - Daniel here.
I don't usually do this but I'm going to tell you a personal story about the last job i had and how, against all the odds, I landed it and negotiated a better salary. Despite having not worked in the industry for almost 10 years.
If you don't care about the story and just want the lessons, read the parts in red and skip to the summary at the bottom.
When I arrived at the office, the managers were stood outside smoking. The whole office was glass floor to ceiling windows and the entire sales team that I wanted to join were in the office right there. Literally everyone could see me as I walked up to the building in my suit, recapping stats about the company and trying to remember the names of the people I had to know.
Swallowing through the dry mouth, I introduced myself enthusiastically with a firm handshake, solid eye contact and repeating the guys names back to cement them in my memory. First impression successfully made. Now let's get down to the interview. Here's 9 tips for this.
Let's begin by saying, I'd be chasing this job for almost 4 months.
Originally I'd flown to Malta on a whim to manage a bar for a guy I'd never met in a country I'd never even heard of, on conditions that weren't fully agreed. It was reckless, but paid off. So it was at this bar I was working, 2 weeks before my contract was up, when Chris and Will walked in to watch the boxing on a Saturday night.
I'd not seen the guys for ages so I grabbed a drink and sat at their table. They were out in a group of twenty somethings, from all over the world, ordering rounds of drinks and shots like it was going out of fashion and throwing friendly banter at one another across the table at each other, getting excited for fight night.
Have you seen the Wolf of Wall Street? You know the scene where Donny comes across Jordan Belfort in the diner and asks him what he does? Jordan says he's a stock broker earning $72,000 a month and Donny quits his job on the spot to work for Jordan?
Well, it wasn't quite like that. But not far off.
I'm outside smoking with Chris and he's in better shape than I've ever seen him. Confident, cool, cracking jokes, generously ordering drinks for anyone he spoke to, full of personality and being the social butterfly. Nice guy though he was, that wasn't what he was usually like.
"Dude, what the hell happened to you? What are you doing now? I thought you were at that crappy recruitment company and struggling to find an apartment?".
Last I'd spoken to him, it was a bit of a pity party and he was complaining about a bunch of stuff.
"Mate, I'm doing fantastic. Apartment is sorted, the girlfriend is super happy. We're comfortable, looking to buy now instead of renting. Settling down."
"So, what do you do?"
This was the first time he told me about this place. I mention the Wolf of Wall Street because anyone who's spent time in a cold calling sales office knows exactly what they're like. Testosterone through the roof, everyone is an alpha male, flashing watches and car key fobs and swanky suits etc. It's a hierarchy and those at the top, are Gods amongst men.
After he told me the cold realities of the job - high targets, tough sell, saturated market, cold calling, hard pitch and impossible clients - I wanted in. He did his best to put me off but that was it, I'd heard "difficult" and was ready to go. The guy used to be a recruiter, he knew what he was doing.
I didn't see him after that for over 3 months after that but the job became an obsession. I researched the company, the industry, the company history, structure, directors, staff, social media, press cuttings, competitors, you name it. While I was taking a work break to study after the bar contract, I soon became hooked on the idea of getting in that door.
But the trail had gone cold. Chris had changed jobs and I was hounding the manager like crazy to give me the time to come and meet her. Time after time she postponed and cancelled. Next thing I knew she was on holiday for 4 weeks, damn it I just want an interview!
So I LinkedIn added everyone I could find in the company and asked them to point me in the right direction. Some replied, most ignored, nobody helped. I was at the point of considering giving up and chasing another job when suddenly I got my break.
Will finally replied to my message after reading and not ignoring for weeks. I jumped at the chance and was there ready for my interview, itching to get back to work, the next day.
I stayed up most of the night stalking every social media profile I could find for the manager. Eventually I found out he used to be a bar promoter before, same as I had. This in mind I read everything I could find on that company, when there events were, what type of DJs and guests they had. At around 4am I closed the laptop, feeling like I'd just lived this guys life in the last 12 hours. Drifting uneasily into a restless, nervous sleep, I got up early and quickly recapped my notes, a little meditation, light breakfast and headed out early to get it done.
So here I was, sat with the Sales Manager and Director of the company. First "interview" in around 3 years. Not worked in a Sales role in almost 10 years.
I remembered some amazing interview tips from CIA body language expert, Chase Hughes, so I started mirroring body language and matching tonality and pitch of the managers as we went through the interview.
After going through the job details and answering all of their questions confidently, I started running through the rapport building stuff. Pulling up the Sales Managers past, building commonalities with the promotion work, keeping him talking about happy memories and nudging the conversation in the right directions to make him more comfortable. It worked.
Next thing we were addressing was the salary. As you would expect, due to the lack of recent experience, they tried to push the salary down and play on the commission side of things. Never fall for this one. Believe in your own abilities and make that clear to your interviewer. My response was something along the lines of:
“Look, I know you’re taking a bit of a gamble by offering me [my desired salary]. However, I’m very confident in my ability to do the job based on the factors you mentioned such as [list off a few key requirements they mentioned earlier]. If you agree to trust me with this, I know you’ll see soon enough that I’m serious about this role. I could take any old sales job around here and I’ve had plenty of offers, but I’m serious about working with you and I hope you will take me seriously too”.
Sounds long winded I know, but it contains a lot of golden nuggets of conviction, confidence and clever language choices. State it with conviction, believe in yourself and they will have no choice but to believe in you too.
“Okay Daniel, you’ve got a deal.” We shook hands. “When can you start?”.
“Right now. Can you introduce me to the team?”
That was it. No stressing about getting a reply, worrying if I’d slipped up. Calm, composed, confident and with conviction. I believed in myself, they had no choice.
I hope you take some value away from this story. All the important bits are highlighted so you can skim read.
1 - Find out, who is hiring? Use every job board you can find - especially Jobs Factor, identify the decision makers on social media and reach out to connect with them. Let them know you want to work with them and a quick reason why you’re the one.
2 - Identify the needs of the company, what does your potential employer actually need? Use social media to learn about the latest developments and get immersed. Blogs on the website are a great place to start. You can then target this more specifically to the relevant hiring manager, what do they need within their team?
3 - If it’s possible, getting in front of the decision maker for an informal interview is golden. Network your way in online or meet someone in person that works for the company. Get yourself in front of the person and become likeable. This saves you all of the nerves and 90% of the work in the interview.
4 - It’s important to reach out in the right way. Get your social profiles are tight before you do, so many people lose or get fired from jobs due to a distasteful meme, stupid status or silly post. Check out Is Facebook HELPING You Get A Job? for some more tips on this. Once you’ve done all this, you’re in their peripheral vision which is half of the battle.
Get out there and get known, and the battle is won before you even rock up to the interview. Until next time, good luck!