Selling Yourself in Phone Interviews

“So…tell me again,” I said, “when in your career did you have full responsibility for the P&L of a business enterprise?”  This was the third time I had to ask the question of this accomplished Sales leader for a $50mm enterprise.  His resume spoke of leading sales teams, generating incredible gains in revenue, revamping sales regions, and building fantastic relationships with clients.  He did have full P&L responsibility now for his region, and had almost five years of responsibility for his region’s contributions to the company’s EBITDA and cash flow.  However, he seemed uncomfortable on the phone selling himself…as if he was not used to talking about it or seeing himself as a GM rather that the Sales guy!

This candidate for a GM role was used to selling himself as a Sales department leader, and now has to mentally adjust to presenting himself as a General Manager, and business unit head executive.  He has to speak in terms of full P&L, expense management, profit margins, EBITDA, and increases in net cash flow, and not just revenue. Even in a Shared Services environment, a GM has influence over all expense management and the people on the team, directly or indirectly.

Many casualties are claimed during phone interviews, so here are a few tips on how to sell yourself so you can thrive where others have fallen:

  1. Make it easy for the listener to qualify you “in” for a new role, if that is your desire.
  2. Reflect on what the hiring company wants and needs…and make it simple both in your mind and in your responses to the recruiter’s questions.
  3. Use the language that is often found in job descriptions for the role you desire.
  4. Express technical skills, interpersonal skills and enthusiasm.

Later that same day I spoke with another candidate who easily expressed his experience in leading both revenue and expense, building teams, and optimizing market share, free cash flow, and EBITDA for his investors. He used the jargon and backed it up with quick examples.  Then…he laughed and stated “I’ve loved every job, enjoy work, and I’m having a blast!”

Which candidate do you think I will be presenting on my final slate on Friday?

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