Hired: How to close the sale during an interview

Tell me about yourself. What's your greatest strength and weakness? Where do you see yourself in five years?

If interview questions like the above don't quite have you jumping for joy, you need a pep talk from international sales expert Michael McIntyre. President and CEO of Benefits America, he's also author of the new book, "The Authentic Salesman: Mastering the Art of Transforming Real Objections into Real Transactions" (Brown Books). For more information, see www.theauthenticsalesman.com.

During his 27 years in the sales industry, McIntyre has generated over $3 billion in sales with the company he started. He has recruited and trained more than 20,000 sales agents and opened offices in more than 40 states.

Not only can the man sell ice to Eskimos, he also can sell you -- yes, you -- to any interviewer with tried-and-true tips that incorporate his signature Five-Point Close:

1. The interviewer is always right. Always reply with "that's a very good question," "excellent question," "thank you for asking," "I'm glad you brought that up," etc. Your interviewer wants validation even if she/he doesn't realize it.

2. Overcome the "Why should I hire you?" objection. Differentiate yourself from the get-go by looking, smelling, walking, and talking better than the competition. Do your homework. (Hint: If you went back fewer than 12 pages on Google, you didn't do your homework.)

3. Provide the selling point. The worst thing you can do is not have a question at the interview's end. Also, be sure to have a firm handshake; it matters more than how you look. Look your interviewer squarely in the eye. Don't shift around in your seat. (Bonus: Never ask about benefits or salary at the initial interview.)

4. Create a sense of urgency. It's a tough economy. Sell your interviewers on how you will partner with team members to get them to the goal line faster. Hiring you now makes them better in both the short and long term.

5. Ask for the order: "So, when do I start?"

Mr. McIntyre would agree with me that you must always do what others fail to do.

(Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach. Contact him at mwalberg(at)bellsouth.net, marvinwalberg.blogspot.com, or P.O. Box 43056, Birmingham, AL 35243.)