Nailing the Job Interview with Lessons from Toyota
Now you’re probably wondering what Toyota has to do with your job interview. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that. But first I want to talk about the mind set you need for being successful during an interview.
A job interview is nothing more than a sales meeting. And what you are selling is YOU. To nail the job interview, you must first understand the real purpose of the meeting. And if selling is the reason for the interview, why not learn to sell from one of the top marketers in the auto industry…Toyota. Let’s take a look at some lessons from Toyota that will help us nail that job interview.
Do your research. Before Toyota puts a new car on the lot, they first do a significant amount of research in preparation to build that car; but not just research on how to improve the mileage or unclutter the instrument panel. Toyota wants to know what car buyers are looking for. Toyota has a research department in Torrence, California with more than 100 people dedicated to learning what the customer wants.
When you prepare to sell yourself to a new employer, you need to do your research. Learn about the company. What do they value? And learn about the job. What are they looking for? You want to know the employer the way that Toyota knows the car buyer. To sell yourself, you need to understand the employer’s needs so you can demonstrate how you will meet those needs.
Put the polished product front and center. When Hooters advertises their hot wings or shrimp, they seem to focus more on the women in citrus colored shorts than the food. But Toyota give their product the lead role. When you see an ad for the Toyota Camry, it’s the shiny new car that gets all the attention.
To sell yourself at the interview, you must present yourself, and your talents, in the best possible light. This starts with your appearance. Of course, you want to dress professionally and be properly groomed for every job interview. But the real sparkle for the product of YOU comes from your personality. Sell yourself with a smile and an upbeat personality. Employers read your energy level as a sign of motivation and enthusiasm. Present yourself as professional and motivated. Your appearance means a lot.
Sell the results, not the methods. When’s the last time you saw a Toyota commercial that took a close look at the engine and examined the details of the rack-and-pinion steering? Well, you probably haven’t seen one at all. But I’m sure you’ve seen the RAV4 hauling friends to the beach or the Tundra truck carrying a 10,000 pound load. Toyota sells the excitement and utility of owning their vehicles by showing you what they can do. They sell the end result, even though it’s the engine that really gets you there.
Selling yourself in the interview requires the same marketing strategy. Sure you could talk all day about the skills you have and the knowledge you’ve acquired. But what the interviewer really wants to know is how you can make this company better. Sell the results of your talents. Tell how you can improve systems and speed up productivity through effective management skills. Explain how your networking experience can help the product developers collaborate with the research department. And your research before the interview will help you know what outcomes the employers is looking for. So sell those outcomes, don’t just show them the engine.
Focus on reliable and productive over glitz and glamor. Ford shined with the Mustang and GM sparkled with the ‘vette. But Toyota has not build it’s success on trying to create the next hot thing. Instead, Toyota has earned it’s place by selling reliable vehicles with the features and appearance desired by the driving public.
The same should be true of the sales pitch you make during the job interview. Don’t try to wow the employer with one-time successes and talents that will be little used on the job. Focus your presentation on those things the employer wants most.
Don’t give up when faced with failure. Toyota ventured onto the American market in 1957 with the Toyopet Crown family car. But after three years, a variety of problems and less then flattering sales, Toyota was forced to pull the Crown off the market. But it was not the end of Toyota in North America. After half a century, Toyota has proven it’s worth with a nearly 16% market share, ahead of Chrysler and about to overtake Ford.
When interviewing for a new career, or just a change of jobs, you will likely be faced with some failures. But one employers decision to not hire you, does not mean your search must end. Even the best interview will not always win the job. So continue your search, do your research and prepare for the next interview. And remember the lessons you’ve learned from Toyota.
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