HOW TO HANDLE THE ‘SELL ME A PEN’ QUESTION IN AN INTERVIEW
You’re in a job interview for a sales position, and things are going well. Then the interviewer presents the challenge that you knew to expect (yet were still dreading): “Sell me this pen.”
Fortunately, like any other type of job interview question, a little preparation and practice can help you knock your response out of the park. So what do you need to know to effectively answer a “sell me something” interview question?
Remember, the primary reason your interviewer is asking this is to gauge how well you respond when you feel pressured or caught off guard.
Even if you don’t have a perfectly polished sales spiel to whip out at a moment’s notice, do your best to display a level of confidence as you work your way through your answer.
Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and smile. Those nonverbal cues will go a long way in making you seem poised and self-assured—regardless of the actual content of your sales pitch.
Highlight a Need
In a famous scene in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character tells a salesperson, “Sell me this pen.” The salesperson immediately takes the pen from DiCaprio and then asks him to write his name down—which is impossible to do without any sort of writing utensil.
“The purpose is to prove that he needs the pen.
Emphasize the Features and Benefits
In addition to connecting your sales pitch to specific needs, it’s also helpful to call attention to the features or benefits of whatever you’ve been asked to sell. This is all about setting up a distinct value proposition for that item.
“For example, does your pen write with very smooth ink? How will that benefit them? Maybe it can help them write faster or more effortlessly. Does your pen have red ink? Red ink will help their markups stand out on a page.
When you’re on the hunt for any sort of sales position, you need to be prepared to answer some variation of the “sell me this pen” interview question.
The good news is that interviewers don’t expect that you’ll have a completely polished sales pitch ready to go—they’re mostly trying to discern how you respond in high-pressure situations.
So take a deep breath, calm your nerves, and then use these tips to pull together a response that not only makes that interviewer want to buy that pen—but also give you the job.