The Selling Factory

Flip the Conversation: How to Differentiate Entry-Level Candidates

Written by Adam Grossman

An ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development, he is a cofounder and the Chief Development Officer at The Selling Factory.

 

Interviewing hundreds of college students and soon-to-be graduates, there is one common mistake that 99% of interviewees make –  they tell rather than sell. This manifests in interviews when most students wait for interview questions then immediately talk about themselves. Working to include how some personal experiences might fit the role, rarely do they seek more information, beyond a job description, to learn how to frame their experiences as beneficial to the interviewer and the company. 

The Difference Between Selling and Telling

Selling focuses on learning about the interviewer, understanding what the position entails, and what characteristics would ensure the most success. To do this, the interviewee needs to flip the script and start an interview by asking questions. This simple shift can help the interviewee determine how they best fit the role, frame themselves when the interviewer starts asking questions, and provide a game plan for the candidate to share why they will benefit the company and are the best fit for the team. 

When individuals hear the word “sell” or “sales,” many conjure up negative images. Words such as pushy, aggressive, shady, scammer, churn and burn might come to mind. While there are bad salespeople out there, sales, at its core, centers upon building transformational relationships rather than mere transactions. To sell oneself most effectively, it is essential to understand the difference between telling and selling.  

Telling centers the conversation only on oneself. This only describes one’s features, strengths, or characteristics. While many speak eloquently when “telling” someone about themselves, our features do not explain why someone should listen to, invest in, and hire them. Selling, on the other hand, shows others why these characteristics matter to them. It shifts the conversation to the person being addressed. Most importantly, selling reveals why and how a person adds value to the interviewer. 

How to Stand Out in a Job Interview

It is easier to list one’s features. However, to distinguish oneself in the job market, it is vital to uncover your true value to job recruiters. This is what motivates interviewers to believe that the candidate will benefit their team. To “sell” yourself, focus on these three interview tips: 

  1. Collect Information – To best represent oneself in an interview, it is vital to learn about the interviewer and the company. This provides a foundation to best represent oneself. Start with interview questions for managers that get them talking. Look around the room or virtual background to gain inspiration or simply begin by expressing “I am excited by this opportunity and would enjoy learning more about you. Where are you from originally, and what was your path to this company?” Even if the interviewer jumps directly into asking questions, after answering the first question, flip the conversation by saying “I appreciate you asking about me, I would enjoy learning more about you,” then ask some information-gathering questions. Follow up with “while I have read the job description, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about the role” with additional interview questions to ask the employer such as “what are you most passionate about in your position,” “what is the most essential characteristic to have in this position,” “what is the most important thing to know about this position.” 

  2. Listening Empathetically – After asking these interview questions for managers, it is important to actively listen to their responses. Each question will provide insights into the interviewer – the characteristics they find important, the features they value in a hire, and/or tidbits that resonate. This information will help to determine how to position one’s features and experiences as a benefit to them. Have a small notebook and a pen to write things down when meaningful things are said in interview answers. Not only can this help to focus on the important pieces of the conversation, but also shows the interviewer that their thoughts are worthwhile. 

  3. Finding Mutual Benefit – When an interviewer finishes answering a question, respond to them by summarizing what was heard and understood. Then frame a response that showcases which of one’s features can benefit them based on their needs. Practice with the following formula “I hear that (what was important) is what you are looking for, and I understand how important this is for the team and the company. In my experience as an (experience you had), I found (what was important) instrumental in (what you did using that feature).” While seemingly counter-intuitive, by framing the conversation on their needs, as opposed to one’s own, leaving an impression is more likely. 

Understanding sales and these three interview tips will help to separate oneself in searching for a job. What’s important to know is that selling is not an art form or just for those born with the gift of gab. It is a science that anyone can learn to do and can get better at. Being able to sell rather than tell will ensure that the focus is on the interviewer and what they say and how one can benefit the interviewer and the company. Through this framework, one will better distinguish oneself from their peers and help one to land one’s dream job.

 

Kira Baker

Campaign Manager

Kira recently graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!

kira@thesellingfactory.com

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

jared@thesellingfactory.com

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

ian@thesellingfactory.com

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

damien@thesellingfactory.com

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

brendan@thesellingfactory.com

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

savannah@thesellingfactory.com

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

zack@thesellingfactory.com

Josiah Blakemore

Campaign Manager

Josiah has over 8 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

josiah@thesellingfactory.com

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she led a psychology research lab on goal achievement and life satisfaction and took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. Through her creative and methodical vision, she engages both students and entrepreneurs to help them find their version of success.

sueming@thesellingfactory.com

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led Slingshotfund.org to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

adam@thesellingfactory.com

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.

brad@thesellingfactory.com