The Gift of Sales – how to sell yourself in an interview

Having spent my twenties working in PR and then my early thirties recruiting in this area, I’ve seen quite a lot of changes in how we work. I remember the day when I used to fax, yes FAX, press releases to the national travel desks in the hope of the smallest of mentions for a car rental sale or latest last minute deal on a package holiday to Greece. Things have certainly moved on in the methods we use to sell ourselves and our work but the basic principles remain the same…

While sales may not apply to you in your day to day role, it will certainly play a big element when it comes to changing jobs.
Firstly you need to sell yourself on your CV to get noticed, then to a recruiter to put you forward for the job. And that’s before the two, three, maybe more interviews where you need to sell your skills to the hiring manager of the Dream Role.
So what are the sales tips I’ve learnt over the years? People buy people is always the number one rule.

Culture and personality fit is always the key thing that our clients brief us on. Yes, skills and background knowledge are always important but if you’re a Steve Jobs style entrepreneur always multi-tasking from one project to the next you’re never going to fit into the cogs of a large multinational corporate with structured working patterns and very defined responsibilities.
There’s not much you can do to change your personality, and neither should you, so remember to always be yourself in an interview situation. There are a whole host of online resources about how to sell yourself, but here are our key tips:

  1. Know your strengths – write down all of your key skills, not just in a professional capacity but also the good qualities that your friends and family see in you. Talking about your personality as a whole will help give interviewers a feel for what you’re really like as a person and what you can bring to their company.
  2. Promote yourself – if you find it hard to talk about what you’re good at, use examples to highlight your skills instead. For example, instead of saying ‘I’m a team player’ you could say, ‘When a colleague’s project was running behind, I went and got pizza for the team and offered help them out with printing out reports’
  3. Show examples of your work – in the creative industries more than anywhere, we need to demonstrate what we can do and the best way to do this is to take along your portfolio. Whether you have printed work, a website or have stored your masterpieces up in the cloud make sure you always have a back-up for any ‘technical issues’
  4. Your 3, 5, 10 year plan – employers will want to know your plans for the future. While their ideal is to hire someone who will be with their company for years on end, they will understand that you are likely to have larger career plans which will develop as you do. Think about what you want to achieve in the short, mid and long-term and how these opportunities could be integrated to the role you’re applying for longer term.
  5. Research, research, research! – this is one of THE most important things when it comes to selling yourself. Research the company you’re applying for, their successes, their weaknesses, what drives them and the people who currently work there. Get an understanding of what the culture is really like, and how would you feel working there.
  6. Use your recruiter – a good recruiter will always spend time getting to you know to ensure that you are a good fit for their client. It’s a three-way relationship between candidate, recruiter and client. Your recruiter will want to find the right person for their client, and also make sure that any opportunities they suggest for you match your skills, personality and requirements. Don’t be afraid to be honest!