By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman
Your education, skills and project experience may get you an interview, but it’s your performance during the interview that will get you a contract engineering assignment.
To impress the engineering manager and earn his trust, you’ll need to convince him beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re the best person for the job. If you’re worried about coming across as arrogant or boastful, you have to change your thinking. A modern sales process revolves around problem identification, tailored solutions and the relationship between you and the manager. If you don’t find a way to meet the manager’s needs, someone else will.
Here’s how to sell yourself in a professional and persuasive way during an interview.
Be the Solution
Engineering managers aren’t just looking for an extra set of hands. They hire contractors to help solve their problems. Take a consultant’s approach by treating your interview like a case study. This method is ideal because it provides a framework to showcase your analytical and problem-solving skills.
Research the firm, the manager and study the scope of work before your meeting so you’re ready to ask pertinent questions and analyze the issues. Then, be ready to propose and discuss some possible solutions. A collaborative effort demonstrates that you are willing to build a mutually beneficial relationship and a joint commitment. After all, the issues are probably not unique to a specific firm, client or project.
Sell Benefits, Not Features
This is the golden rule in sales and it applies to interviews as well. Don’t simply describe your engineering skills or experience. Paint a picture by talking about how you’ve used your expertise to create value. This is often referred to as solution selling, which is more refined and engaging than its counterpart, transactional selling.
Did you help design a better artificial knee, solar greenhouse or industrial robot? How did you go about it and who benefitted from your work? How will you use your expertise to create a competitive advantage for the engineering manager and her firm? Connecting the dots between your strengths and the manager’s needs shortens the path to an offer.
Broad, sweeping statements aren’t convincing. Support your accomplishments with facts and data, often called proof statements in the sales world. Highlight increases in revenue, efficiencies or cost savings. Providing a portfolio, code samples and copies of certifications, awards or letters of recommendation is a professional way to validate your work, eliminate doubts and persuade the manager. Don’t overdo it, but clearly sprinkle your conversation with relevant information.
Genuine self-confidence is invigorating and contagious. Using a positive tone, effective gestures, authoritative body language and active listening are just some of the things that convey confidence during interviews and on the job. You don’t need to overstate your abilities or qualifications. Simply being comfortable in your own skin conveys strength and authenticity.
Summarize and Close
Briefly summarize your attributes at the end of the interview then close with dignity and class. Here are three ways to ask for feedback and express interest in the job in a professional manner.
“Our discussion has made me even more excited about tackling this challenging project. Do you need anything else from me before you make a decision?”
“Based upon our discussion, I think my skills and experience are a great fit for this project. How do you feel about it?”
“Thank you for taking the time to review the scope of work with me. I have all the information I need. What are the next steps in the hiring process?”
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