Welcome to this third module, focusing on ensuring that you feel able to sell yourself on a self employed basis at interviews, sales meetings and sales presentations

Tackle the module in bite size chunks, don’t feel the need to do everything in one go. Allow plenty of time to digest and apply the information covered

The module includes helpful ‘Activities’ for you to complete, it is strongly recommended that you undertake them to get the most out of the content and the key learning points

Allow yourself time to reflect and take on board the advice, key messages and suggested tasks in the programme to enable you to move forward with your self employed campaign

This module will enable you to

  • Prepare for the three main types of sales interaction when self employed

  • Interviews – e.g. when selling yourself to win an interim or contract assignment

  • Presentations – e.g. when formally selling a pre-prepared proposal or concept

  • Sales meetings – e.g. when selling your time or services to one or more buyer(s)

  • Understand key body language principles and how to apply them in 'selling' situations

  • Ultimately, to enable you to perform better than the competition to ‘seal the deal’

Key interview technique principles include

  • Fail to prepare, prepare to fail – structured preparation is key, don’t try to 'wing it'

  • You only get one chance to make a first impression – perform well right from the off

  • Listen carefully to questions – it is crucial to ensure you provide the right evidence

  • Stay in control of yourself in interviews – you are in charge of what you say and do

  • Use positive body language and eye contact – much info provided is non-verbal

  • Respond to questions, don’t answer them – like school maths, show your 'workings '

  • Respond to questions in the first 'golden' minute – when interviewers are most listening

 

 

  • After interviews, review what you have learnt and keep improving your performance

  • Understand, recognise and respond to the eight groups of interview questions

  • Using the STAR model to prepare your evidence – Situation, Task, Action, Result

 

 

Let's now have a look at some of these principles in a bit more detail

The STAR model provides a simple and effective way to prepare your evidence when responding to interview questions

Situation – spend as little time as possible providing the background to your evidence, just enough to provide context

Task – explain the task but don’t dwell on it, give enough info for the audience to understand what you did

Action – provide a clear visual picture overtly explaining what you did to make a difference and to make it happen

Result – ensure you articulate and demonstrate the qualitative, quantitative and other measures of your success

All questions fall into one of eight groups of questions

You only get one chance to make a first impression

These three groups of questions are core to the preparation of your evidence

Negative questions need a positive response

You are buying as well as selling, so you need to make an informed decision

You need to know what happens after the interview

Let's have a look at each group of questions and how to prepare for them

'Opening' questions

  • Are asked at the beginning of the interview, usually after the introductions

  • Are often asked to settle you in and relax you – in reality they’re a vital stage

  • Your response is your first impression – and you only get one chance to make it

  • Interviewers’ subsequent judgements are influenced by your first impression

  • Your preparation needs to highlight what you most want them to know about

  • Briefly mention a few key skills, strengths, experiences and qualifications

  • Focus on what is important to the listener and most likely to differentiate you

Example ‘Opening' questions include

  • Please summarise your career

  • Tell me a little bit about yourself?

  • Talk me through your CV

'Can you do it' questions

  • Are about providing strong evidence of your ability and expertise to clients/customers

  • Prepare STAR responses for every skill, strength or experience you are selling

  • Research information to identify their key needs and how you can meet them

  • Include academic and professional qualifications in your responses if relevant

  • Present evidence that proves you can get the task(s) done better than others

  • It’s a big exercise, but the most straightforward group of questions to prepare for

  • Your key message to the interviewer(s) – ‘I did it for them and now I can do it for you’

Example 'Can you do it' questions include

  • What evidence do you have that you can complete this project on time?

  • Describe a difficult assignment you have managed and how you made it a success

  • What has been your proudest achievement and why was it so?

'Will you do it' questions

  • Focus on motivators and drivers and also what de-motivates you too

  • Spend time identifying past motivators that have enthused you professionally

  • For each one, prepare STAR examples that give a clear visual picture

  • Identify past de-motivators and show how you have turned them around

  • Show energy and enthusiasm in your body language and vocal tone

Example 'Will you do it?' questions include

  • What is it about this project that particularly interests you?

  • Describe a time when you felt highly motivated and explain why it was so

  • What aspects of this assignment would you find difficult and why?

'Will you fit' questions

  • Look at personality, character, relationships and how you relate to people

  • Include preferred management style and your spectrum or range of styles

  • Use successful past relationships e.g. colleagues, bosses, customers, etc

  • Demonstrate how the relationship worked and will now work in the new opportunity

  • Prepare STAR examples that give a clear visual picture of how you will fit

  • When expressing values show how they fit with the organisation’s culture and values

Example 'Will you fit?' questions include

  • Describe, with examples, your management style

  • How do you ensure positive stakeholder relationships when managing a project?

  • How would you manage any difficult relationships while completing this assignment?

Your questions

  • Towards the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions

  • Prepare questions and listen during the interview for more questions to add

  • Ask questions that will help you to make an informed 'buying’ decision

  • Your questions are a 'double edged sword'

  • You need info to make your 'buying decision' if the opportunity is offered to you

  • What you ask and how you ask it must reinforce your other responses

  • Don’t ask if it contradicts your 'can you', 'will you' and 'will you fit' responses

  • If they’ve answered your questions, reinforce your key 'selling' messages

Negative questions

  • Designed to test self-awareness and seek evidence that you have learnt and changed

  • Sometimes used to test your reaction to pressure or hostility or aggression

  • With 'weaknesses' type questions, always respond in the singular as follows

  • Choose a past example that isn't in a critical or key area of the job on offer 

  • Explain how you overcame it e.g. training, coaching , self-help etc.

  • Confirm that it is no longer an issue

  • Then stop speaking!

Negotiation questions

  • The only group of questions where it’s OK to respond to a question with a question

  • If asked hourly/daily/fixed/etc type questions, it’s OK to bounce it back e.g.

  • 'Perhaps you could provide more details about the project content and duration?'

  • 'Do you have a range of rates for this type of assignment and, if so, what is it?'

  • If they persist, it’s OK to give yourself 'negotiating room to manoeuvre' e.g.

  • 'Depending on more project details, I’m looking for between X and Y'

  • 'The opportunity to complete the assignment the most important issue for me'

  • If needed, links and information on salaries can be found by CLICKING HERE

Before the interview finishes, you need to ask a few questions so that you understand

  • What the ongoing selection decision making process is for the assignment/project

  • What, if any, further selection stages there are and, if known, any timings for them

  • If there are no further stages in the selection process, you should

  • Ask for clarification, if you don't already know, of when a decision is likely

  • Check that they do not have any concerns about any of your responses

  • Take the opportunity, if appropriate, to reinforce your key messages

Before the interview, research the

  • Original project advert, project description, person specification (if any) and any other documents and double check your response preparation

  • Skills, strengths, experiences, attributes or values they are looking for and make sure that you have prepared a strong STAR response for each of them

  • Organisation offering the opportunity – particularly information about their financials, range of products/services, culture and values

  • Interviewer(s) – it is useful (if possible) to know something about their current role, career background/progression and qualifications via LinkedIn etc.

  • Logistics – the route to get to the interview, timing of your travel to the interview, ensuring you allow plenty of time for possible delays

After the interview

  • Thank the interviewer(s) for giving you the opportunity to meet

  • Make notes a.s.a.p. afterwards of any key info or learning points

  • If appropriate, send a follow up email to reinforce key messages

Appearance

  • A clean and pleasant personal appearance is key

  • Know the dress code and wear appropriately

  • Better to be slightly 'over' than 'under' dressed

  • Be congruent, don’t make a 'fashion statement’

Breathing

  • Arrive early to avoid breathlessness or exertion

  • Controlling your breathing will help enormously

  • Breathing releases energy and reduces stress

  • Take a few slow deep breaths before the start

  • Exhale slowly to calm your nerves if you need to

  • Focus on breathing out slowly, not gulping in air

Head

  • Frequent smiling at the right times is a good positive

  • Even a nervous looking smile is better than none

  • Ensure facial expressions are consistent with words

  • Nod to agree when pertinent, but don’t overdo it

  • Tilt the head when relevant to indicate interest

Eye contact

  • Essential that it is regular and comfortable

  • Being genuine and sincere doing it is key

  • Little or no eye contact is a huge negative

  • If you struggle, look at their ear instead

Upper body

  • Shake hands firmly, with appropriate eye contact

  • Use your hands sparingly to express yourself

  • Keep your hands at, or below, elbow level

  • Find a natural, relaxed position for your hands

  • Don’t cross your arms - it indicates negativity

  • Lean forward judiciously and only as applicable

Lower body

  • Choose a comfortable leg position e.g. a low ankle cross under the chair

  • Fidgeting legs indicates discomfort or unease, so stick with one position

  • Sit back in the chair, not on the edge of the seat and don’t slouch either

If you receive a rejection after an interview

  • Don’t be disheartened, it isn’t personal, it is just a process

  • Remember, it means you are one step closer to a job offer

  • Send another application out a.s.a.p. afterwards to replace it

  • The only bad experiences are the ones we don’t learn from

  • Ask for feedback, so that it becomes a learning experience

  • If you don’t learn from the experience you may repeat it

  • In the event of receiving negative feedback

  • Accept the feedback at face value and don’t be offended or defensive

  • Take the information with openness and as an opportunity to learn

  • Take time to reflect and fully digest the information

  • See the feedback as a learning and growing experience

  • Be led by your thinking response, not emotions, during feedback

  • Ask for specific examples in an open and non-defensive way

You will successfully differentiate yourself from your other competitors by

  • Being better prepared than the other interviewees

  • Feeling confident with your preparation and your evidence

  • Listening to questions and responding rather than answering

  • Articulating your skills, strengths and achievements effectively

  • Using the STAR model consistently to present your evidence

  • Demonstrating good eye contact and positive body language

  • Focusing on the three key questions in the interviewer’s mind

  • Can you do it?

  • Will you do it?

  • Will you fit?

Prepare yourself the same way using the STAR model and the eight question groups regardless of any 'label' that is attached to the interview e.g.

Reduce repetition by having a different STAR example for each skill, strength or ability

But don’t worry if you end up using the same example or evidence more than once

Don’t feel intimidated by panel interviews

  • Focus on the person asking each question

  • Include the other panelists with eye contact

Prepare for remote interviews (e.g. Skype, Zoom, MS Teams, etc.) with practise runs with somebody to get comfortable with the format and the technology

To help with your interview preparation, a list of potential interview questions can be accessed by CLICKING HERE 

Many of the interview technique principles we have already covered also apply when presenting during a sales process, the key additional points to emphasise being

  • Prepare and deliver from the audience’s perspective – through their eyes - not yours

  • Make sure you understand what they need and how you can satisfy their needs

  • Research the organisation, their issues and the opportunities for you

  • Produce professional hard/soft copy materials/slides as appropriate

  • Stick to any timing they have stipulated, don’t go over, it can be a major negative

  • Slow down your delivery, allow spaces and vary your pace as appropriate

  • Use eye contact, positive body language and strong voice projection

  • Keep watching for buying signals and respond to them positively

  • Similarly, look out for any negative signals and address them proactively

  • Have a clear plan about what you want to get out of the meeting

  • Slow down, allow spaces and vary your pace as appropriate

  • Bring your slides to life – don’t read them word for word

  • They will be relaxed and enjoy your presentation if you do too

When preparing the content of a sales presentation remember

 

  • Maximum one slide per two minutes – better still, fewer slides

  • Use as few words as you can to paint a clear visual picture

  • Use large easily readable fonts and simple key messages

  • Only use easy to understand and relevant diagrams and visuals

  • Be enjoyable and informative – entertain and impress

  • Mention features but focus on the benefits to the audience

  • Have a fifteen word core message – in case you get stuck

  • Invite them to ask question as you present or at specified stages

  • At the end of the presentation check

  • If there is anything that needs further explanation

  • If they have any concerns or issues and, if so, address them

  • That you know what will be the next decision making stage(s)

Most of the interview and sales presentation best practice principles we have already looked at also apply when attending sales meetings

To have generated a sales meeting, you will have had to put in quite a lot of effort and energy, so you need to make the most of the opportunity

In preparation for the sales meeting, it is imperative that you are clear about the key outcomes you want from the meeting

Prior to the meeting you need to gather as much information as you can about your target client/customer’s business and what their needs are

Spend as much time, particularly at the start of the meeting, asking lots of open questions and gaining a real understanding about what they want and are looking for

Use your very best listening, eye contact, body language and observation skills to make a connection with the client/customer 

Proactively build rapport and empathy, doing so will differentiate you from other, probably more transactional, competitors

Be clear and overt about your values and how they mean that the buyers can feel comfortable with you and trust you

Ultimately, it about building a picture and telling a story that makes you ‘the best option’ and then closing the deal

It is unusual for psychometric tests to be used in relation to self employed opportunities, however, just in case they do crop up, lets have a look at some of the key aspects

Tests can be a single activity or, alternatively, a series of activities - sometimes called an assessment centre. Either way, the most common test instruments used include

 

 

  • Personality tests – assess typical behaviours, preferences, thinking and judgement

  • Ability tests – measure general or specific skills, strengths, capabilities and acumen

  • Aptitude tests – examine potential capacity to learn or apply key capabilities

  • Specialist tests – explore particular areas e.g. motivation, leadership, strategy etc

  • Case studies or in-tray tests – look at analytical, organising, prioritising types skills

  • Group or team exercises – probe interpersonal, relationship and social abilities

Top tips for managing whatever tests you undertake include

 

  • Don’t panic – be calm, be methodical, be in control and don’t be afraid

  • Be clear – if possible, in advance, find out the test purpose and format

  • Be prepared – if they are using standard tests practice via online/books resources

  • Don’t rush in – on the day, allow time to acclimatise before 'diving in'

  • Follow the instructions – make sure you know the 'rules of the game'

  • Keep track of time – ensure you progress at a rate to complete the test

  • Pressure tests – be aware that some tests can’t be completed by design

  • Some tests – don’t have right/wrong answers, go with your 'gut reaction'

  • More information on psychometric tests and the opportunity to complete some sample tests can be found by CLICKING HERE

This module has enabled you to

  • Understand the key self employment best practice principles in relation to

 

  • Being interviewed

  • Delivering sales presentations

  • Conducting sales meetings

  • Prepare yourself and your sales evidence rigorously and thoroughly

  • Perform confidently in sales situations to maximise your conversion rate

  • Handle any psychometric testing that may be used in selection processes

Go to the next module by CLICKING HERE

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