It’s that time of year again – Shark Week on the Discovery Channel and the premiere of Sharknado 2. The shark phenomenon seems to be here to stay. Another shark show, Shark Tank will be back this fall. Beyond the bickering, goofy gadgets and celebrity sharks, there are true takeaways from that show that can help job hunting hopefuls. If you look a little closer, you’ll see that nervous entrepreneurs share similarities to job seekers.
The entrepreneurs who end up getting a deal aren’t just the people with the best products; they also have the best pitches. Sink your teeth into these pointers to maximize your personal pitch.
There are some entrepreneurs who just “get it.” They’ve obviously studied the show, and know what the sharks want to hear. You need to do the same for your interview. You can never be too prepared. Know where the interview location is (a trial run is always a good idea), how long it takes to get there, what you’re going to wear and the questions you plan on asking. Being prepared also helps calm your nerves. Jitters are ok, but the more thoroughly you prepare, the more confident you will become.
At a recent Shark Tank casting call in Iowa, one of the producers was interviewed by the local paper. What can a Shark Tank wanna-be do to get his attention?
“I’m always most impressed with entrepreneurs that know their stuff. The entrepreneurs who know their numbers, their market and have a vision for the company.”
This sounds a lot like what job candidates should know. Competition for jobs is fierce. You’re going against hundreds of other hopefuls. If you haven’t perfected your personal pitch, you’re in trouble.
As a potential employee, you should go beyond knowing surface level facts about the company you want to join. With so much public information available online, there’s no excuse not to. You should also be able to speak knowledgeably about the industry you’re in (or going into). This is especially true if you’re changing professions. Do online research, informational interviews, and check out professional associations. Just like the entrepreneurs, you need to be ready for any question that comes your way.
Do you think the entrepreneurs go out there and “wing it” when it comes time to present to the sharks? Absolutely not! They have practiced their pitch dozens of times. You can do the same before your big interview. Go over potential interview questions with a friend or family member. Mock interviews are a great way to get feedback on any nervous habits, including distracting verbal or physical habits.
Manners matter. You can be friendly, but remember – you’re there to make a great impression, not to make new friends. On Shark Tank, the sharks may laugh and joke, but they always get to the tough questions, including the basics about the inventor’s business. No matter how clever or creative the sales pitch was, if the entrepreneur can’t answer questions about their product’s sales, wholesale and retail costs, they’re out. And, as anyone who has ever watched the show knows, it never pays to be rude, defensive or arrogant. When you are presenting yourself at an interview, the same thing holds true. This is the time for your best behavior and A-game, no matter what oddball questions or behavior is thrown your way.
Imagine the moment an entrepreneur walks through the doors to meet the sharks for the first time. It’s a mixture of excitement and apprehension. At the same time, they know that it’s their only shot. Adopt the same mentality. This is your one chance to be in the spotlight and make your best impression. You need to remain confident and composed during the interview, from the second you walk in the door.
Think about what it takes to land a coveted spot on the show. You have to apply, pitch in front of the producers and then advance to the next round. You do all of that BEFORE you even get to appear on TV! In addition, many of these entrepreneurs have learned how to handle rejection. They’ve heard “no” many times before. They pick themselves up and keep persevering, often at huge costs. We’re not asking you to get a second mortgage or live in your car (like many of the hungry entrepreneurs have done); however, we can all learn from their drive and passion. They only need one “yes,” and so do you.
Even though the sharks are millionaires, they’re not going to just write a check to anyone. The same holds true for your future employer. Prove to them that you’re worth every penny by convincing them that you have the energy, knowledge, skills and experience to get the job done. What you say, the way you say it and how you present yourself in the interview can be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.
Shark tank wanna-be entrepreneurs need to show that their invention or service is the next big thing. Job seekers need to show employers that THEY are the next big thing. With perseverance and attention to the points above, you should be well on your way to a successful interview.
Until next time, catch you in the tank!
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* This guest post originally appeared on LinkedIn.
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