Best Way to Conduct Indirect Selling in Screening Interviews

Especially in screening interviews, much of the selling that goes on from the interviewer’s standpoint is indirect sell­ing—the interviewer selling himself. In choosing a company m which they think they will feel comfortable, candidates judge their comfort level primarily from the way they react to the interviewers they meet. Indeed, to a student inter­viewing on campus, the interviewer is the company. Employ­ers who find that notion a somewhat sobering thought may want to reconsider who they send as interviewers.

Conducting a good interview sells. Therefore all of the elements that go into making a good interview—being prepared, being courteous and sensitive to the other person’s feelings, and showing interest in the other party as a person—also help to sell.

Screening Interviews Best Way to Conduct Indirect Selling in Screening Interviews

And selling indirectly may have long-term impact. Here is the way one interviewee I spoke to almost twenty years ago described our interview:

“Late in the fall of 1976 I went to a motel room in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to see a man I had never met. He was small and balding and wore a bow tie, and he spent most of the time we were together on the telephone, trying to comfort a client by explaining that the person who had been left in charge of the client’s affairs was exceptionally able and had, in fact, just been made a partner. The man on the phone was Arnold B. Kanter, hiring partner at a prominent Chicago law firm; I was a second-year law student at Harvard, come to check on a possible summer job for which the weekly salary would exceed by half what I had made in my last term as a college teacher, the work I had done before going to law school.

“When Arnie put down the phone I found him so cheer­fully direct about the vagaries of the hiring process and the difficulty of being charming to thirty-some different law stu­dents over the course of two days in a warm hotel room that I confessed what I might not have—I was not all that serious about the job Arnie might have had available. My own anxie­ties with the summer-job scene had led me to make commit­ments—mental ones at least—about my plans. Nevertheless, I could not resist showing up to introduce myself. Arnie s firm was one of Chicago’s powerhouses, and like most law students, I was confused enough about the future that I wanted to keep all options open. Arnie and I resolved to stay in touch; we had lunch over the summer, but we never did any of the further steps of the hiring waltz.”

Despite the fact that we did not complete the waltz, some twelve years after our interview, the interviewee joined the law firm where I was a partner. His name is Scott Turow.

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