“We would like you to come in for an interview.” Those wonderful words are what every job hunter wants to hear. Kathy, 55, an HR Manager, called me immediately after she got off the phone with the recruiter. She said, “This job opportunity is ideal for me. I’ve been inside my company for the last 18 years. I haven’t had to interview as I just got promoted. I want to stand out and make a good impression, but I’m not sure how. Can you help?”
Kathy was pleased that her resume had gotten her this far. Next comes the difficult part of convincing the employer that you are the person to hire. The interview failure rate is between 75-80%. So how can you change that and dramatically improve your odds of being offered the job?
Answer: The 60 Second Sell.
In an interview coaching session, Kathy learned how to take control of the job interview immediately. We developed her 60 Second Sell, a job interview technique I created years ago and have been teaching to book readers, students, and career counseling clients. It is a tool that helps you target your skills to meet the employer’s needs. It allows you to summarize your most marketable strengths in a brief and concise manner. Successful job hunters have found that the 60 Second Sell is the most influential tool they used during the interview process. They praised this technique because it was very effective in capturing the employer’s attention.
Think of this as your 60-second verbal business card. It will summarize your best skills, accomplishments, and previous experience in a well-thought-out fashion that will immediately make the employer know why they should hire you. The 60 Second Sell is a proven shortcut to your success. Many career counseling clients have reported it was the best job-search technique they’d ever used. It’s easy to create and easy to implement. Once you’ve learned this technique, your interviews will be significantly improved because you will be able to do the most important thing necessary to land a job—get the employer to recall you and top your abilities.
The Formula: Creating Your Strategy
Examine your previous experience. Write out the key responsibilities for each job you’ve held. Note any significant accomplishments. Zero in on your essential work strengths—those abilities where you excel and are most productive. Use your network to get as much background as possible about the employer and the position’s needs. Many times, your contacts will point out the very aspects that you must stress. Other times, there will be little information available, and you will need to guess based on your general knowledge about performing the job.
After reviewing the employer’s and position’s needs, determine which of your abilities and which aspects of your experience will be most relevant to the employer. Then create your top five selling points, known as the 5 Point Agenda, and use each point to build a robust picture emphasizing how you can do the best job.
In Kathy’s case, the company wanted to find a progressive HR partner to lead its organization. They needed a strategic leader and a true business partner. Her 5 Point Agenda needed to stress her achievements. Here are the top five selling points she was going to emphasize.
Job opening: Human Resources Director – 5 Point Agenda
Point 1: Award-winning human resources leader.
Point 2: Provided strategic direction and led the company culture initiatives that resulted in the company recently being named a national best-places-to-work organization.
Point 3: Strong entrepreneurial drive was responsible for delivering new programs, HR systems, and significant policy enhancements.
Point 4: A strategic and operational business partner working closely with top executives.
Point 5: Exceeds goals and expectations.
Human Resources Director – 60 Second Sell
“I’ve been an award-winning human resources leader with fifteen years of experience providing strategic direction. I’m proud to share that my current employer was recently named a national best-places-to-work company. I am a global thinker who contributed to the company’s success as a strategic and operational business partner, and we have cut attrition by 60%. I display a strong entrepreneurial drive at work. I have been responsible for delivering new programs, HR systems, and major policy enhancements that have shaped our current work culture. My CEO has repeatedly recognized me for my innovative leadership that often exceeds goals and expectations.”
How to use it
Most interviews are over before they ever really get started. Most job hunters are shocked to learn that the interviewer is often distracted, thinking about previous candidates or other work that needs to be done. You need to immediately capture the employer’s attention and get him tuned in to you as a top-notch candidate. Open the interview using your 60 Second Sell. Typically the first question you are asked in an interview is Tell me about yourself. In one interview I conducted with the CEO, I got a twenty-minute answer. After the first minute or two, the prospect totally lost my attention. Had the person answered with a 60 Second Sell, he might have started the interview by grabbing my attention and keeping it. Questions such as Tell me about yourself require a brief summary noting your most marketable skills, not a life story.
Another question to which your 60 Second Sell is the perfect answer: Why should I hire you? This question is asking you to convince the employer to hire you. Other applicable inquiries include: What are your strengths? What makes you think you are qualified for this job? What makes you think you will succeed in this position? Why do you want this job? These questions offer you an excellent way to stress your 5 Point Agenda (your most marketable skills) using your 60 Second Sell.
The 60 Second Sell is effective because it immediately demonstrates your strengths and illustrates how you will fill the employer’s needs. It gets their attention quickly, makes you stand out, and keeps them interested. This technique is also an effective way to close the job interview too. Read about that here in this Forbes article: How To Close An Interview To Land The Job.
This article was originally published in Forbes.com.