New Research: The 10 Skills Interviewers Look For

what-interviewers-really-wantEveryone wants to know the specific skills interviewers look for—but has anyone actually asked them? Hult Labs stepped up to the plate. Commissioned by the Hult International Business School, these researchers answered a lot of common questions in their (very) recent study (March 2014).

The Study:

This study is based on interviews at least an hour long with 90 executives, managers and faculty members from across the globe. 51% of the interviews were with C-suite executives, 41% were with managers and 8% were with academic leaders. Interviews were conducted from August 2012 to February 2013 in locations around the world.

The Skills Interviewers Look For And Why This Information Is So Valuable:

skills-interviewers-look-for-2014Studies like these, while publicly available, are often dwarfed by the sheer number of bloggers giving interview tips based on their personal opinion. Luckily for you, by understanding the data behind what the those hiring are looking actually for, you can stand out in a crowded job market.

Sales In-Depth:

The study discusses each skill specifically, highlighting Sales as an increasingly attractive skill in today’s job market:

“Graduates need strong sales skills, including but not limited to the ability to persuade others. Students need to learn how to pitch, persuade, and obtain buy-in from internal and external stakeholders. Sales as a subject area is evolving, and it’s become a more valued competency for businesses internally and externally.

Whether you’re an old sales pro or just entering workforce, this is good news for you. Sales, the often misunderstood and underrated industry, is looking quite enticing in 2014. This finding is consistent with Accenture’s 2013 Sales Performance Optimization Study that found over one-half of CSOs are planning to increase the size of their sales force in the next year.

How To Use This Information To Land Your Ideal Sales Job:

Especially in entry-level sales roles, many candidates are unsure of which skills to highlight during an interview. To understand other side, most mangers aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for either—so you will need to make it easy for them. In the words of sales-expert Tom Hopkins, You must be able to sell yourself into a job.” 

You may be thinking, I’ve never sold a single thing and now I have to sell myself into a job? Don’t panic. It’s likely the other candidates have similar levels of experience and a good hiring manger knows “years of experience” is not a reliable sales performance indicator.

Use Hult Lab’s research to your advantage:

  • Identify the most relevant sales experience you have and explain the context—even if it is outside of a professional workplace. For example, selling girl scout cookies seems trivial, unless you sold 18,107 boxes in a seven-week sales period.
  • Explicitly state how that experience is related to the work of the company you are interviewing for, highlighting the similarities. For example, when you sold the cookies you were approaching potential customers you had no existing relationship with, very common in BDR roles.
  • Articulate that you are adaptable and genuinely interested in learning best practices and emerging sales strategies from them. Employers want to see you are willing to learn their sales process and start making them money, faster.

Good luck out there! Have a sales hiring question I didn’t answer? Don’t be afraid to reach out @kaylakozan

Not sure if sales is “for you”? Check out Why Millennials Make Top SalespeopleDoes Sales Experience Matter? The Tom Hopkins Story, and Can Geeks Be Salespeople Too? Looking for more sales hiring tips? Have a look at LinkedIn Profile Tips For Salespeople: What Shaq Got Wrong and How to Get Hired for a Job in Sales Without Experience.

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Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan

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