Have you ever been talked into buying something you were a little hesitant to purchase, at first?  Or to buy a different product than the one you were initially considering?  Or to pull the trigger on an item (a house, car, etc.) that might not have been able to offer every feature you were looking for, but had other characteristics or attributes that were just too compelling or attractive to resist?

If so, you’ve witnessed the power of “salesmanship” in action.

I mention this point because I come across fewer and fewer professionals today who seem ready, willing, and able to go to bat for themselves in the job hunting and interviewing process, anticipating adversity and embracing responsibility for winning the job at hand.  Instead, it seems as if most people are approaching the process from a fairly passive and defensive standpoint, responding to employer requests with little initiative and expecting (it appears) that they’ll be hired strictly based on the facts of their resume alone, versus needing to actively convince an employer to hire them.

But that’s the whole key.  In the professional sales world, there are the folks who have truly mastered the art of closing the deal, versus mere “order takers” who simply answer customer questions, process paperwork, and serve an administrative function.  And if you’re on the hunt for a new opportunity, it’s no surprise that you want to emulate the former camp.  Instead of just going through the motions and trying to give safe, non-objectionable answers in interviews, make it your goal to respond with the confidence, strength, and conviction that signals to the employer “you’d be a fool not to hire me.”  Consider stepping up your game and using more assertive language like “I can ace this job if given the chance” or “here’s how I can improve the bottom line” or “now that I understand your expectations, let me explain exactly why I think I can knock them out of the park.”

Again, I just don’t see individuals doing this as much as in years past for whatever reason — and given the high level of competition out there and continued risk-averse mindset that many employers seem to be displaying, in these post-recessionary times, a little sales grease might be just what you need to tip the scales and push your candidacy over the hump.

At the end of the day, hiring managers are wired with the same psychology as the rest of us.  They can be charmed.  They can be persuaded.  They can be coaxed.  They can be talked into changing their mind about a candidate or convinced to overlook certain deficiencies on an individual’s resume, just as long as they’re given clear and convincing reasons to do so.  And while I know the deck may seem stacked at times, remember, the jury is almost always still out when the interviewing process gets underway.  If the company already knew exactly who there were going to hire, it’s likely they’d just “anoint” the chosen one and save themselves hours of wasted time asking people to come in and present their qualifications.  You’ve got a shot.  And even if you don’t match all of the job’s stated qualifications heading into an interview, your credentials were obviously good enough to get you into the race, so seize the chance to rise above the competition and convince the employer beyond the shadow of a doubt that you’re the one for the job.

Might this require some uncharacteristic boldness on your part?  Or some extra preparation so that you can be prepared to respond to whatever tough questions the hiring manager might throw at you?  Absolutely.  But that’s the nature of selling and what you’ll see top sales professionals do, day after day.  They’re chomping at the bit to discuss their product’s strengths, they’re equally well-prepared to address any potential liabilities, and they realize that how the interviewer/customer feels about them — and the level of confidence and conviction they display — is every bit as important as whether they have XYZ certification or a few extra years of experience under their belt.

So while I realize I may be preaching to the choir in terms of some of you out there, I just wanted to share a few thoughts on this score and get you thinking about whether you’re truly acknowledging the power of selling yourself — and the degree to which you might able to control your destiny in interviews — or whether you’re instead functioning as a mere order-taker, going through the motions and hoping that the customer will just hire you due the lack of any better options.  Call me crazy, but I’m suspecting that most of you would rather be in the former camp…

Years ago, in fact, I had somebody suggest that every job seeker should immediately start reading some classic sales books, versus typical career advice books, as such publications would likely be much more useful in helping them get ahead in the workplace.  You know what?  I tend to agree.  And if any of you might want to give this advice a shot, here’s one list you could peruse for ideas!