Picture this; you’re a 22-year-old business school graduate looking for your first job. You know you want to go into sales and have managed to secure an interview with a company high on your “places I want to work” list.
So what do you do next?
Below we have identified 6 tips and tricks to help you crush your sales interview as a millennial entering the workforce.
Tip 1: Comprehend the climate.
Times have changed. No longer are the days of going to school, getting a job, and staying with a single company until you retire. Nope, the age of millennials is here and we are indecisive! On average, individuals born in the 1990s or early 2000s will have six or seven jobs before they retire. What does this big of a schism mean? Companies are aware of the change and are preparing for it accordingly.
Your interview will certainly contain questions focused around you being of a different generation. Make sure you answer honestly and accurately, but understand that if your interviewer is a bit older, they may not come to the same conclusions as you. Always consider your responses from their point of view and bring your answers to their questions back to how you will contribute to the organization as a whole.
Tip 2: Be “yourself,” but not yourself.
Another way to say this would be “know your audience.” While tattoos, piercings, and dyed hair are becoming more and more acceptable in common culture, the sales world has been slower to adapt. You have to be very intentional with your fashion choices for most sales roles, and even more so for interviews. You’ve heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” right? Well, that’s extremely applicable if you don’t have a job. Even if it feels stuffy, it’s better to overdress than to be too casual. Throw on the tie or button up your blazer if you’re debating to or not. We’ve never heard of someone not getting a job because they were dressed too nicely.
If you do have to stifle your creative spirit or style, be prepared to speak about it. Interviewers often like to inquire about situations that may make you uncomfortable to see how you react. Being honest and addressing the question directly without shame is your best bet. If they are interested in adding someone with your creativity, your interviewer will not be surprised if you have original fashion choices outside of work. Your comfortability and comprehension of the situation is what’s most important.
Tip 3: Understand youth is power.
Too many times we have encountered a young person entering the workforce and being hesitant because he or she feels less valuable than their older counterparts. The earlier in one’s career that they understand their value, the more successful they will be. As a millennial, if you can identify your value during the interview process, you’re that much more of an impressive candidate. As a young person entering an established company, there will be expectations for you to provide a different point of view. When speaking with your interviewer, make sure you discuss your thought process and how you envision being able to bring fresh and new ideas to the company. Concrete examples of changes or updates you would make can be very persuasive if presented in the right light. Gauge the mood of your interview and present your thoughts if it feels right.
Tip 4: Millennial isn’t an insult.
This correlates well with tip three, but elaborates on it just enough to include it as a separate point. Millennials sometimes take offense to being grouped together in a subset of people. They are very individualistic and want to be able to blaze their own trail. While that desire is quite admirable and will provide dividends in your future career, during your interview speak to your identity as a “millennial.” Own the distinction and expound on what it means. Millennials are the most widely educated generation, incredibly technologically savvy, civic-oriented, globally conscious, entrepreneurial, and pragmatic.
If you can identify and display these impressive traits to a potential employer, they will be more likely to hire a known commodity, having a better understanding of what you will bring to their team.
Tip 5: Bring questions of your own.
There’s nothing more deflating than interviewing someone, having them come with canned questions (What’s the culture like? Why do you like this company?) and seeing that they’re not truly interested in your response. However, it is important to be prepared to ask questions that provoke thought from your interviewers. Think about asking one or two “reverse interview” questions that force the interviewer to divulge information they normally would not have. An example would be, “If I were to come into this position and absolutely knock it out of the park, what would I have done?” This is a much better way to ask “What are your expectations of me in this role?” It gets the same point across without sounding canned.
After you ask one or two questions you planned on asking, make sure you ask the interviewers about specific things they talked about during the interview. This shows your interest and attentiveness during your discussion.
Tip 6: Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Finally, it’s important to remember that whether you’re interviewing now or you were interviewing thirty years ago, a sales role is a sales role. Your responses and behavior should be indicative of such. Just because you are the new breed being ushered into the workforce, doesn’t mean it’s going to change what makes ones successful in sales. There are three “C’s” that everyone interviewing for a sales role should keep in mind; confident, comfortable, and charismatic.
You should be confident in yourself, comfortable in the environment, and charismatic with your audience. If you are able to demonstrate these three qualities, regardless of your age/generation/experience, your value will be clear and you will impress your interviewer.
Every interviewer’s experience is different, but identifying and embracing being a millennial is the best way to ensure success. Follow the six tips enumerated above, to give yourself a leg-up on your peers and fast track yourself to success in the sales world. For more information on how to grow your sales force with the help of a younger generation, check out this Sandler blog post.