Posted: September 4th, 2013
As a law student, that sounds pretty crazy, right? Well, if you are suddenly in the interview stage of your law school track then you are going to be selling something important soon – yourself!
Listing out your outstanding accomplishments and achievements on your resume and cover letter won’t necessarily make the cut in the interview process. Sure, it’s great to give your possible employers an idea of what you’ve done academically; however, to become a cut above the rest, you have to sell yourself as if you were a valuable product sitting on a shelf in a quality department store.
Start to think like a salesperson. No, not the super pushy salesperson on the phone trying to get you to buy movie channels – the salesperson that talks to you like a respected colleague as you browse your favorite store. Likeability is important, even in sales people. If a salesperson is confident in their product and is friendly, maintains good eye contact, a strong handshake, and a smile, you would likely feel more inclined to buy from that person.
Listing out your resume bullet points again in your cover letter is like hearing that pushy salesperson drone on about how your cable bill will go down if you just sign on for another year. All you want to do is let them finish or even just hang up on them. (We’ve all done it!)
Try it again. But this time, get excited! Get your customer interested in you as a product. Talk about your great features and benefits. Mention that one of your features is your dedication, but then explain the benefits of that dedication. Perhaps you’re the first one in the office in the morning and the last one to leave. Or better yet, mention a time that your dedication created a tremendous result in a school project or during an internship. Focus on your other skills and factors that make you immediately productive. You wouldn’t want to wait 6 months to start enjoying your movie channel if you purchased the movie package. The same goes for employers who don’t want to wait for six months before you deliver benefits to them. Concentrate on what you can do for the company, not on what the company can do for you.
What about all those common interview questions that you keep hearing and possibly stumbling over? Treat those tricky questions like a sales call and as if your salary depended on making that sale. “Why should I hire you?” would be the same as “Why should I buy from you?” Well, why? Tell your interviewer that you will be getting more than just a product (you). They would also be getting quality work, dedication, drive, and intelligence. Developing a storytelling flair will also go further in an interview when faced with those questions. Everyone loves a good story. It doesn’t mean you need to become a chatterbox, but your interviewer was interested enough in you to interview you in the first place. Be sure to prepare short little true stories that support your claims of relevant skills and accomplishments.
Better yet, become your own leading salesperson by mastering a one-to-two-minute “commercial” about yourself. In sales, commercials are meant to intrigue the client when asked the standard, “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Almost certainly you will be asked to respond to some version of the “Tell me about yourself” question during an interview or even when you are out and about in networking groups. Memorize a short description of your background (education, experience, and skills) that matches your strengths to the job or any job in which you are seeking. Be sure to also add a sentence or two about your curiosity, commitment, and drive to move mountains above your already amazing skills base.
As with every new challenge you face, practice will make perfect. Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse these new tips or even try recording yourself and playing it back for you to review. Ask a friend, professor, or career advisor to go over some practice interview questions to get you to the point where you are truly comfortable. On-campus interviews are also available for your benefit, so take advantage of each bidding session. Soon, your ease and confidence will speak for themselves during your next interview (Spring 2014 for 1Ls) and you will soon make your first sale – you!