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Guidelines for “Business Interview” Primary Knowledge, Business Psychology and Tactfulness.

Business Interview

For any successful business interview, it is necessary to have four chief requirements. These are: a sound common sense; a psychological grasp of minds of various types of men and women; proper dress; and an impressive manner of speech and a balanced and well thought out approach.

Preliminary Knowledge

A sound preliminary knowledge of the essentials of the work to be undertaken is an essential prerequisite of any successful career as a representative of some business house. In order to win a larger clientele, a sales representative must be equipped with the following :

First, he should muster as much information as he can about the local conditions of supply and demand before setting out to interview people.

Second, he must know what exactly he is going to sell. This can only be possible by a careful study of the market, and of his own firm’s capacity to compete successfully in that field, lf, for instance, he is representing a printing house, when he interviews clients for business, it may be that he is told—not once, but often—that they can get a printing job done cheaper than it is done elsewhere, and in quality as good as anywhere else. He must welcome and invite more information about these things. He must inquire into every shape of difference in quality, quantity and price, and make a memorandum of these particulars, When he has got all this noted, he should not still feel that his interview has been either a success or a failure; as a matter of fact, it has so far been neither, The success of this first interview will depend largely on the perseverance of the interviewer, that is, the visiting representative.

Business Psychology

Suppose the interviewer happens to approach the head of a business house, whom he wants to canvass at the time when he is either too busy or apparently disinterested. The interviewer should adopt either of these two courses. In the former case, he should make a point of calling again at a more favourable time. In the latter case, the secret of success will rest in involving himself in the other’s interests and in what he is selling. This has two advantages: first, it will teach the interviewer a lot about the other man’s point of view; second, it will give him hints on the difficulties encountered in other’s business, from which he can draw his own conclusions.

It will be most suitable to allow the interviewee that is the man whose office it is, to do most of the talking. It is not wise to say too much about one’s own business, unless there is an immediate response from the other side. Here is an illustration. A is interviewing B to get orders for printing. B is the head of a big Insurance office. A wants him to place an order for the printing of insurance forms. B informs A that his insurance forms are printed abroad. A should not terminate the interview at this point of time. A will be advised to inquire into the nature of B’s insurance activities. B will open up freely in the belief that A will be a useful and potential recruit for insurance business. Likewise, A believes that B will before the end of the interview, reciprocate his warmth and possibly decide to place the order he had at first refused. In actual fact, this is what will happen. A will secure order while B will expect, with some hope, that if A insures at all, he will do so with B’s company. More than this, A’s memorandum should show his employers what are the difficulties there in the local business world so that they may gain by this first-hand information and adjust their policy accordingly. A will be considered by his firm a live wire representative and his position will doubtless be assured.

Common Sense

Next, the possession of a sound common sense ensures success in any business interview. But common sense is not so common as it sounds. Like other qualities, it also has to be cultivated. It is the result of natural endowments, of business acumen, coupled with a clear idea of what the other man in driving at. A business deal may be put through after a first interview. This will be all the more possible if the interviewer and his interviewee can see eye to eye. The former must rely on this common sense factor in meeting his opposite number half-way, or sometimes even in a totally different direction to what one set out in the beginning.

Take, for instance, the situation where B (the person interviewee) may not like to purchase red pencils. Very well A (the interviewer) does not pursue that line but, by the use of common sense, switches over to a deal in black pencils which the interviewee might be requiring, even if that deal might not be so remunerative.


While conversing, it is worth keeping in mind the famous epigram of Hazlitt, “One truth discovered, one pang of regret at not being able to express it, is worse than all the fluency in the world.” It is good to have the gift of fluency in speech, provided that what one says is the right thing at the right time. Light, flimsy talk, however fluent, is evidence of a want of balance. This is fatal to good results. The well-known preacher Spurge on observed: To keep chaff out of a bushel one must fill it with wheat.” This is so very true that the interviewer must not be merely a talker, but a thoughtful talker. Further, speech must not be halting, shy or retiring. When interviewing a prospective client, all modesty should be put aside. There must be no sign of an inferiority complex. A ringing confidence must be heard in every word spoken to dispel the mistrust of the other party. Without good speech all the other business qualities become negative. Everything in an interview must be made clear. Speech is the vehicle of great use. An Einstein may tell us that two and two do not always make four, but the art of making us see this depends on how the interviewer makes himself understood. If Einstein can be made clear, then no businessman has any excuse for failing in this respect.

Be Courteous

Lastly, your approach is the gateway to a successful business interview. A good golfer will say that it is not the club that he uses, nor so much his stance that matters, but more than anything, his judgment of the line of his ball and his approach to the green. So with the interviewer he may be the possessor of all the bag of tricks his business requires, and yet lack the fair understanding of how to approach his subject. Bluntness is fatal; aggressiveness is absurd; argumentativeness is irritating; but a sweet modesty and compromising outlook is most often convincing. It’s useless for A to tell B, “I know you require red pencils,” when B has refused to place an order for them. It is more than useless for A to say, 1 will show you why you must have this product” or “1 insist on your trying out this sample with you and I hope you will try it, May I look forward to receiving an order, if you are disposed to give us a trial ?” or any other such thing.


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